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. And 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

Israel
What to Know About the Arab Citizens of Israel
Arabs represent one-fifth of Israel’s population. Systemic discrimination, outbreaks of communal violence, and the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict continue to strain their ties with Israel’s Jewish majority.
Middle East and North Africa
Yemen’s Tragedy: War, Stalemate, and Suffering
Yemen’s internal divisions and a Saudi-led military intervention have spawned an intractable political, military, and humanitarian crisis.
United States
Is Rising Student Debt Harming the U.S. Economy?
Higher education provides students many socioeconomic benefits and increases the global competitiveness of the United States, but mounting student loan debt has sparked a debate over federal lending policies.
Americas
The Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is an important forum for regional diplomacy and has become more assertive in promoting the rule of law, human rights, and fair elections as some states face domestic upheaval.
United States
U.S. Disaster Relief at Home and Abroad
The U.S. government responds to scores of disasters each year, coordinating closely with state, local, and foreign partners. However, more frequent and severe storms, fires, and floods are straining resources.
Ukraine
Ukraine: Conflict at the Crossroads of Europe and Russia
Ukraine’s Westward drift since independence has been countered by the sometimes violent tug of Russia, felt most recently with Putin’s 2022 invasion.
China
The Chinese Communist Party
Under the command of Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party faces a host of domestic and international challenges as it aims to bolster China’s great-power status.
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 COVID-19 pandemic, migration, and government mismanagement.
China
China’s Repression of Uyghurs 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 Uyghurs.
Brazil
Brazil’s Global Ambitions
Brazil has long sought a greater role on the world stage, but political upheaval and other enduring challenges have complicated its efforts.
United Nations
The Role of the UN Secretary-General
The United Nations’ top leadership position has broad authority to steer the organization’s agenda, but its impact has varied widely since 1946.
Haiti
Haiti’s Troubled Path to Development
Hobbled by foreign interventions, political instability, and natural disasters, the former French colony has long suffered from underdevelopment.
Mexico
Mexico’s Long War: Drugs, Crime, and the Cartels
Violence continues to rage more than a decade after the Mexican government launched a war against drug cartels.
United Nations
The Role of the UN General Assembly
The UN General Assembly hosts a much-watched debate of world leaders each year but has struggled to make its work more substantive.
Middle East and North Africa
Turkey’s Growing Foreign Policy Ambitions
Turkey’s geography and membership in NATO have long given the country an influential voice in foreign policy, but the assertive policies of President Erdogan have complicated its role.