Explainers

  • China’s colossal infrastructure investments may usher in a new era of trade and growth for economies in Asia and beyond. But skeptics worry that China is laying a debt trap for borrowing governments.
  • As the U.S. government grapples with another deadline to increase its debt limit, economists warn that a possible default could have disastrous economic consequences. 
  • The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, twenty years after their ouster by U.S. troops. Under their harsh rule, they have cracked down on women’s rights and neglected basic services.
  • The Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the world’s largest stockpile of emergency crude oil, has helped shield the United States from energy supply crunches, but debate persists over its management.
  • The Center for Preventive Action’s Global Conflict Tracker is an interactive guide to ongoing conflicts around the world of concern to the United States.
  • Most countries still have laws that make it harder for women to work than men. This inequality shortchanges not only women but also entire economies.
  • Japan's constitutional debate is about not simply the document's past but also the nation's ability to respond to twenty-first-century challenges.
  • This interactive examines how nationwide bans on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, as proposed by the Biden administration on April 28, 2022, could help shrink the racial gap on U.S. lung cancer death rates.
  • After years of tension, relations between the United States and Venezuela appear to be headed in a new direction. The Joe Biden administration has temporarily rolled back some U.S. sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry in an effort to curb energy prices as well as help the Venezuelan people. But the extent of this détente hinges on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. What’s in store for bilateral relations?
  • It was a year marked by political tumult, spiking major-power tensions, economic challenges, a waning pandemic, and a war that echoed worldwide.
  • More than a year after President Jovenel Moïse’s assassination, Haiti remains embroiled in a humanitarian crisis. Economic and political instability persist, and a surge in gang-related violence in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, has displaced tens of thousands of people. World leaders are now debating whether to send troops to help restore basic governance in the country. What does the future hold for Haiti?
  • With the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, it’s up to states to decide their own abortion laws. Watch to see what has changed so far in the United States and how it compares with other countries on abortion access.  
  • Negotiations between the United States and North Korea have proceeded in fits and starts for decades. But they have failed to halt the advance of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
  • Since India’s independence, ties with the United States have weathered Cold War–era distrust and estrangement over India’s nuclear program. Relations have warmed in recent years and cooperation has strengthened across a range of economic and political areas.
  • The Kurds are one of the world’s largest peoples without a state, making up sizable minorities in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Their century-old fight for rights, autonomy, and even an independent Kurdistan has been marked by marginalization and persecution.
  • In March 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. When WMD intelligence proved illusory and a violent insurgency arose, the war lost public support. Saddam was captured, tried, and hanged and democratic elections were held. In the years since, there have been over 4,700 U.S. and allied troop deaths, and more than one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed. Meanwhile, questions linger over Iraq's fractious political situation.