Explainers

  • Experts say big investments are needed to protect the U.S. energy grid from the growing threats of climate change and cyberattacks.
  • Communist Cuba was a major foreign policy challenge for the United States during the Cold War. The bilateral relationship thawed considerably under President Obama, but the Trump administration reimposed restrictions.  
  • The U.S. census, one of the few in the world to directly count every resident, is used to distribute political power and federal funding. The 2020 count has faced pandemic-related complications and a suite of controversies.
  • 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.
  • Tensions over Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Jerusalem have spurred the worst violence between the two sides in years, but the eruption seems unlikely to prompt a strong international reaction.
  • The victory of pro-independence parties in Scotland’s elections means that another referendum is on the agenda. What’s at stake, and what comes next?
  • As COVID-19 continues to ravage countries including Brazil and India, scientists warn that cases and deaths are being undercounted. Without accurate tallies, government responses won’t be enough to defeat outbreaks.
  • Restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have increased threats to press freedom in the region, raising questions over how to respond.   
  • Tens of thousands of migrants from a region known as the Northern Triangle are arriving at the U.S. southern border. Here’s why they’re making the arduous journey.
  • Three years ago, Abiy Ahmed came to power with promises of peace. Now, jarring reports of killings and sexual violence have come out of Tigray, Ethiopia’s northernmost region. Here’s what to know about the unfolding humanitarian crisis.
  • 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the Council on Foreign Relations. Since its inception in 1921, the Council has been guided by an unwavering set of core principles: independence, nonpartisanship, and a commitment to producing quality, policy-relevant scholarship. The CFR’s mission, to provide the analysis and context necessary to inform America’s foreign policy choices and to increase public understanding of the world and why it matters, remains as urgent today as at any time in the past century.
  • A global pandemic, elections, civil unrest, and much more. The year 2020 was like no other. Take a look back at how the Council on Foreign Relations brought together renowned experts and leaders to unpack one of the most challenging times for the United States and the world.
  • Since Fidel Castro’s ascent to power in 1959, U.S.-Cuba ties have endured a nuclear crisis, a long U.S. economic embargo, and political hostilities. The diplomatic relationship remained frozen well beyond the end of the Cold War but moved toward normalization during the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, whose policies were largely rolled back under President Donald Trump.
  • Since 1945, many regime leaders and key figures have been brought before domestic and international courts to answer to charges including genocide and crimes against humanity, amid a larger struggle to promote and enforce the rule of law worldwide.
  • Onetime allies, the United States and Iran have seen tensions escalate repeatedly in the four decades since the Islamic Revolution.
  • The Taliban insurgency remains resilient nearly two decades after U.S.-led forces toppled its regime in what led to the United States’ longest war.