Explainers

  • 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.
  • 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 has long sought a greater role on the world stage, but political upheaval and other enduring challenges have complicated its efforts.
  • The United Nations’ top leadership position has broad authority to steer the organization’s agenda, but its impact has varied widely since 1946.
  • European leaders investigate the sudden leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines, suspecting sabotage; Brazil holds its presidential election amid strong partisan tensions; and Iranians continue their anti-government protests over the death of Mahsa Amini. 
  • The U.S.-Saudi relationship is fraught with complications. Saudi Arabia has the largest oil reserves in the world, giving it influence over what Americans pay at the gas pump. At the same time, the kingdom’s human rights abuses are at odds with the United States’ stated democratic values. Who holds the power in this partnership? And what compromises are being made so the countries can work together?
  • Suzanne Nossel, the Chief Executive Officer of PEN America, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss growing threats around the world to free expression and how the fight to protect human rights needs to adapt to succeed in a world of great power competition.
  • 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 tracker shows how the Belt and Road Initiative changed countries’ bilateral economic relationships with China over time.
  • As King Charles III ascends to the British throne after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, Commonwealth countries are debating whether to follow Barbados, which broke ties with the Crown in 2021. Why are countries choosing to leave the monarchy, and what could that mean for its future?
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led European governments to propose bans on Russian oil and gas, but rising energy costs and a lack of alternatives are undermining the effort. Here’s how Europe has been challenged by Russia’s leverage in the energy market.
  • The debate over gun laws has raged in Washington for decades, often reigniting after high-profile mass shootings. In mid-2022, Congress passed a rare, compromise gun control bill, but critics say it still leaves the United States with some of the loosest gun laws in the world. Here’s how the United States and some other advanced democracies have responded to gun violence.
  • After the British government handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997, Beijing promised to let the city keep its capitalist economy and some of its democratic freedoms under the “one country, two systems” approach. However, Hong Kong’s future looks grim as Beijing increasingly cracks down on protests, free press, and dissent.
  • The Taliban surged back to power two decades after U.S.-led forces toppled their regime in what led to the United States’ longest war.
  • Disputes over overlapping exclusive economic zones in the South China Sea have intensified in recent decades, while the territorial row over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea dates back to the nineteenth century.
  • Onetime allies, the United States and Iran have seen tensions escalate repeatedly in the four decades since the Islamic Revolution.
  • 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.