Explainers

Backgrounders

Authoritative, accessible, and regularly updated primers on hundreds of foreign policy topics.
Backgrounders

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines

What Is the World Doing to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines?

Governments and researchers have been working with an extremely ambitious timetable to provide billions of people with immunity to the new coronavirus. Now, the first vaccines are being distributed, spurring hope that the pandemic’s end is in sight.

Middle East and North Africa

What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?

The United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining U.S. interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, hurt the chances of a peace deal.

Explainers Video Filters and Cards

Venezuela
Venezuela: The Rise and Fall of a Petrostate
Venezuela’s descent into economic and political chaos in recent years is a cautionary tale of the dangerous influence that resource wealth can have on developing countries.
China
China’s Repression of Uighurs in Xinjiang
More than a million Muslims have been arbitrarily detained in China’s Xinjiang region. The reeducation camps are just one part of the government’s crackdown on Uighurs.  
United States
A Unique Military Force: The U.S. National Guard
The National Guard is a special part of the U.S. military that answers to both state governors and the president. In some instances, how leaders have used the Guard has generated controversy, particularly when responding to civil unrest.
State and Local Governments
How COVID-19 Is Harming State and City Budgets
The coronavirus pandemic is placing enormous budget pressure on state and local governments, threatening deep and potentially lasting cuts to education, infrastructure, and other important investments.  
Iran Nuclear Agreement
What Is the Iran Nuclear Deal?
The United States’ withdrawal from the arms control agreement has heightened tensions and left the remaining signatories scrambling to keep the deal alive.
Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines
What Is the World Doing to Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines?
Governments and researchers have been working with an extremely ambitious timetable to provide billions of people with immunity to the new coronavirus. Now, the first vaccines are being distributed, spurring hope that the pandemic’s end is in sight.
Middle East and North Africa
What Is U.S. Policy on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
The United States has long tried to negotiate a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but several factors, including deep divisions between and within the parties and declining U.S. interest in carrying out its traditional honest-broker role, hurt the chances of a peace deal.
Health
What Does the CDC Do?
The federal agency has a broad mandate to protect Americans’ health and an expansive global reach. But the COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as one of its most daunting challenges.
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
What Is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
Though President Trump withdrew from the TPP, the remaining members of the trade pact have forged ahead with a new version, leaving the U.S. role in the Asia-Pacific in question.
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico: A U.S. Territory in Crisis
The Caribbean island, which shares a close yet fraught relationship with the rest of the United States, faces a multilayered economic and social crisis, rooted in long-standing policy and compounded by natural disasters, the coronavirus pandemic, migration, and government mismanagement.
Southeast Asia
What Is ASEAN?
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization that brings together disparate neighbors to address economic, security, and political issues, but the group’s impact remains limited.
Middle East and North Africa
What Is the Kafala System?
The kafala system regulates the lives of tens of millions of migrant laborers in the Middle East, but growing outrage over human rights abuses, racism, and gender discrimination has fueled calls for reform.
United States
Space Exploration and U.S. Competitiveness
U.S. space exploration inspired a generation of students and innovators, but NASA’s role has diminished, and the number of global space competitors is growing.
North Korea
North Korea’s Military Capabilities
North Korea has embarked on an accelerated buildup of weapons of mass destruction and the modernization of its already large conventional force.
World Trade Organization (WTO)
What’s Next for the WTO?
With President Trump skeptical of the WTO’s usefulness and Doha negotiations stalled, the future of global trade rules is in doubt.