Explainers

Backgrounders

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

Taiwan

Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense

Differences over Taiwan’s status have fueled rising tensions between the island and the mainland. Taiwan has the potential to be a flash point in U.S.-China relations.

Energy and Environment

How the U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Works

The United States is the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. Its decision to either continue at this pace or curb production to achieve its climate goals will have global consequences.

Explainers Video Filters and Cards

Haiti
Haiti’s Troubled Path to Development
Hobbled by foreign interventions, political instability, and natural disasters, the former French colony is paralyzed by multiple crises.
United Nations
Funding the United Nations: How Much Does the U.S. Pay?
Many UN agencies, programs, and missions receive crucial funding from the United States. The Trump administration sharply reduced funding to some UN agencies, but President Biden has largely reversed those cuts.
India
India’s Muslims: An Increasingly Marginalized Population
India’s Muslim communities have faced decades of discrimination, which experts say has worsened under the Hindu nationalist BJP’s government.
Palestinian Territories
Who Governs the Palestinians?
Power in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the so-called Palestinian territories, has been divided among three entities: a governing body called the Palestinian Authority, the militant group Hamas, and the state of Israel. But as Israel now seeks to destroy Hamas, it is unclear who would administer Gaza instead.
United Nations
The UN Security Council
The UN Security Council is the premier global body for maintaining international peace and security, but it faces steady calls for reform to better meet twenty-first-century challenges.
United Kingdom
Moving Past the Troubles: The Future of Northern Ireland Peace
The Good Friday Agreement has dampened sectarian conflict and brought stability to Northern Ireland, but the peace deal has been challenged by Brexit-related border tensions that have thrown the region’s hard-won gains into doubt.
United States
The U.S. Vice President and Foreign Policy
Modern vice presidents can trace much of their political influence to the broad reforms that Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale made to the second-highest elected office in the late 1970s.
Taiwan
Why China-Taiwan Relations Are So Tense
Differences over Taiwan’s status have fueled rising tensions between the island and the mainland. Taiwan has the potential to be a flash point in U.S.-China relations.
United States
Seeking Protection: How the U.S. Asylum Process Works
Record numbers of migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border are challenging the Joe Biden administration’s attempts to restore asylum protections. Here’s how the asylum process works.
Argentina
Argentina’s Struggle for Stability
Argentina has struggled with political dysfunction and financial crises for decades. What could firebrand President Javier Milei mean for Argentina’s economy and role in the world?
Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s Freedoms: What China Promised and How It’s Cracking Down
Beijing has tightened its grip on Hong Kong in recent years, dimming hopes that the financial center will ever become a full democracy.
Somalia
Somaliland: The Horn of Africa’s Breakaway State
The would-be independent state strikes a contrast with Somalia as a place of relative stability, and despite its lack of international recognition, Somaliland continues to push its own foreign policy.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
What Is NATO?
The alliance is bolstering its military deterrent in Europe amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and is expanding to include Finland and Sweden.
Technology and Innovation
The Crypto Question: Bitcoin, Digital Dollars, and the Future of Money
The dizzying rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has created new challenges for governments and central banks. Increasing popularity and high levels of market volatility have raised the stakes of the digital asset experiment.
Iran
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards
Conceived as the principal defenders of the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has evolved into an institution with vast political, economic, and military power.