Explainers

  • Venezuela’s descent into economic and political chaos in recent years is a cautionary tale of the dangerous influence that resource wealth can have on developing countries.
  • 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.
  • With its comparatively open and well-regulated immigration system, Canada remains a top destination for immigrants and refugees.
  • President Joe Biden has tapped the nation’s emergency reserves several times over the past year. The Strategic National Stockpile is just one of the reserves that the United States maintains for economic and strategic purposes.
  • The Biden administration’s proposed immigration policy aims to curb migrant flows to the United States amid record border crossings. What will it do, and how does it compare to the Trump years?
  • The two-year-old military junta in Myanmar wants to hold elections this year to legitimize its rule, but steady losses in its spreading civil war have put its own existence in peril and could make a vote nearly impossible.
  • A year after Russia’s invasion, Ukraine is suffering a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. The outflow of millions of refugees has placed a strain on neighboring countries.
  • The United States and its allies have imposed harsh economic penalties on Russia over its war in Ukraine. One year after the invasion began, here’s what they have achieved and where critics say they’ve fallen short.
  • The UN Security Council decides whether to renew the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan; on its twentieth anniversary, Americans and Iraqis take stock of the U.S. invasion of Iraq; and the future of the Ukraine-Russia Black Sea Grain Initiative, a vital food export agreement, is decided.
  • The world is entering a new era of great-power competition. As U.S. policymakers look ahead, it pays to know what global threats to anticipate. Every January, the Council on Foreign Relations publishes a survey that analyzes the conflicts most likely to occur in the twelve months ahead and rates their potential impact on the United States. But can the country prepare itself for mass immigration, cyberwarfare, and nuclear tensions while still cooperating with adversaries on global issues such as climate change?
  • Shannon K. O’Neil, vice president, deputy director of Studies, and Nelson and David Rockefeller senior fellow for Latin America Studies at CFR, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss Mexico’s new electoral law and other developments that may be eroding the country’s democratic governance.
  • 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.
  • China’s political system is complicated, and there’s a lot of contradictory information out there. Is China a communist country? Is it democratic, as its own government insists? And what does “freedom” mean to Chinese citizens? Ian Johnson, CFR’s senior fellow for China studies, answers these questions and more.
  • Since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, cryptocurrencies have exploded in popularity and accrued over $1 trillion in collective value. But market volatility in 2022 threatened the crypto ecosystem—after peaking at over $68,000 in November 2021, the price of Bitcoin fell to under $17,000 twelve months later. This instability has brought new scrutiny to the industry and the countries that have embraced Bitcoin as currency: El Salvador and the Central African Republic. Financial regulators are now calling for more crypto oversight, but global efforts to regulate the industry have stalled. Given this simultaneous rise in global popularity and concern, what lies ahead for digital currency and the future of finance?
  • The world is running out of time to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. With the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries set a goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) compared to 150 years ago. However, the planet is on track to pass 1.5°C by the end of this decade, which would lead to higher sea levels, hotter heat waves, and deadlier natural disasters. But countries can work to prevent those and even worse dangers by sticking to their climate pledges and limiting just how much the world overshoots its Paris Agreement goal.
  • 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?
  • The United States and China have one of the world’s most important and complex bilateral relationships. Since 1949, the countries have experienced periods of both tension and cooperation over issues including trade, climate change, and Taiwan.
  • 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.