Explainers

  • Differences over Taiwan’s status have fueled rising tensions between the island and the mainland. Conflict over Taiwan also has the potential to be a flash point in U.S.-China relations.
  • Military experience gained from fighting in Syria’s civil war and decades of clashes with Israel have made the Iran-backed group stronger than ever, but the biggest threat it faces may be upheaval in its own backyard.
  • Beijing has tightened its grip on Hong Kong in recent years, dimming hopes that the financial center will ever become a full democracy.
  • 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.
  • With the United States hosting the regional meeting for the first time since 1994, all eyes are on how President Biden will navigate growing divisions over democracy, migration, and other issues.
  • The leaders of the United States, Australia, India, and Japan held their fourth Quad meeting in May. After a year dedicated to fighting the pandemic, here’s what they pledged to take on next.
  • The Biden administration’s freshly announced China strategy offers a welcome change in tone but few new policies.
  • Ukraine has rejected recent calls by the West for it to settle its war with Russia. Ukrainian leaders believe they have a chance to reclaim territory lost in the early fighting—and that they can do so before serious negotiations begin.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken unveils the Biden administration’s China strategy, Colombians go to the polls for a presidential election, and Foreign Affairs magazine debuts its first podcast.
  • Hip-hop is a phenomenon that has captured hearts around the world. Its musical form ranges from party anthems to critical social commentary. But the genre plays another role: it is an influential soft-power tool for the United States. Like its predecessors jazz and rock, hip-hop is utilized by the U.S. State Department to connect with young minds, and its unique ability to inspire goodwill toward the United States offers a significant advantage over adversaries such as China and Russia. How did hip-hop become a go-to diplomatic instrument?  
  • Heidi Crebo-Rediker, adjunct senior fellow at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to assess the Biden administration’s “worker-centric” foreign economic policies.
  • As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, CFR celebrates a decade of hosting the annual Conference on Diversity in International Affairs (CDIA) in collaboration with the Global Access Pipeline and the International Career Advancement Program.
  • Since the creation of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program in 1980, more than three million refugees have been accepted into the country. Until recently, the United States was the world’s top country for taking in refugees. However, bans on refugees from certain countries significantly curtailed admissions during the Donald Trump administration and reignited a debate over the program’s national security implications. Now, President Joe Biden has pledged to restore the program as crises worsen in places such as Afghanistan and Ukraine.
  • Since it went into effect seventy-five years ago, Japan’s constitution has prevented the country from engaging in combat. But China’s growing military power and North Korea’s increasing threats raised concerns about the strength of Japan’s defenses. Some Japanese politicians have called for a revised constitution so the country can effectively confront twenty-first century challenges. Already, Japan’s defense spending is steadily rising, and the Japanese military is now allowed to work with other militaries, including the United States’. Still, some Japanese people are wary of constitutional change, which has protected them from conflict. Can Japan maintain its pacifist constitution?
  • Russian forces have been accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine, including an apparent massacre in the city of Bucha and the bombing of a maternity hospital in Mariupol. What’s the difference between these types of grave crimes, and who has the authority to prosecute them?
  • Since 1992, when the United Nations recognized climate change as a serious issue, negotiations among countries have produced notable accords, such as the Paris Agreement. But leaders have struggled to maintain momentum and failed to slow global temperature rise.
  • The nuclear arms race was perhaps the most alarming feature of the Cold War competition between the United States and Soviet Union. Over the decades, the two sides signed various arms control agreements as a means to manage their rivalry and limit the risk of nuclear war. However, deep fissures have reemerged in the U.S.-Russia relationship in recent years, raising once again the specter of a nuclear arms race.
  • With brazen terrorist attacks at home and abroad, the Somalia-based Islamist insurgent group has proved resilient despite strategic setbacks in recent years.
  • Over the two centuries since Colombia’s independence, the relationship between Washington and Bogota has evolved into a close economic and security partnership. But it has at times been strained by U.S. intervention, Cold War geopolitics, and the war on drugs.