Explainers

  • A global surge in avian flu outbreaks in birds and some mammals is worrying poultry farmers, scientists, and health experts. The trend is provoking questions about the future of the disease and global public health.
  • The National Guard is a special part of the U.S. military that answers to both state governors and the president. While it began as a “strategic reserve,” the guard has come to play an important role in domestic and overseas operations.
  • With its comparatively open and well-regulated immigration system, Canada remains a top destination for immigrants and refugees.
  • The United States has long been a safe haven for refugees from around the world. President Biden is working to expand the country’s resettlement program after the Trump administration made sharp cuts.
  • After the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the country has made tremendous strides toward peace and development. But critics say these have come at the cost of political freedoms.   
  • The leading UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees is engulfed in allegations that twelve of its employees were involved in the Hamas attacks on southern Israel. The agency faces severe funding cutbacks, with huge consequences for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. 
  • The mass casualty theater attack in Moscow was a reminder that affiliates of the Islamic State have reorganized and infiltrated even powerful states.
  • Iranian support has boosted the military prowess of Yemen’s Houthis, helping them project force into the Red Sea. In return, the group has extended the reach of Iran’s anti-West axis of resistance.
  • Congress returns from recess and grapples with contentious agenda items, including reauthorization of a section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and a Ukraine aid package; Sudan enters a second year of civil war with more than half of the country’s population in need of aid and millions more displaced; and Ecuadorian police breach international law by raiding the Mexican embassy in Quito to arrest former Ecuadorian Vice President Jorge Glas. 
  • Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?
  • Michael Kimmage, a history professor at the Catholic University of America and a senior associate with the Europe, Russia, and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the origins of Russia’s war in Ukraine and its repercussion for the global order.
  • 2023 was a tumultuous year, marked by violent conflicts, democratic erosion, and record-high temperatures. This year, experts at the Council on Foreign Relations, along with visiting world leaders and thinkers, unpacked these issues and more. Join CFR’s director of studies, Jim Lindsay, in looking back at his list of the ten most impactful events of the year.  
  • Taiwan's relationship with the United States, China, and the rest of the world has a complex history that informs why the island is so consequential to today's geopolitics. To better understand these dynamics, David Sacks, CFR's fellow for Asia studies, answers questions about Taiwan's history and its significance to diplomacy in East Asia. For more on the relationship between the United States, China, and Taiwan, check out the Council on Foreign Relations–sponsored Independent Task Force, "U.S.-Taiwan Relations in a New Era". cfr.org/us-taiwan
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) could transform economies, politics, and everyday life. Some experts believe this increasingly powerful technology could lead to amazing advances and prosperity. Yet, many tech and industry leaders are warning that AI poses substantial risks, and they are calling for a moratorium on AI research so that safety measures can be established. But amid mounting great-power competition, it’s unclear whether national governments will be able to coordinate on regulating this technology that offers so many economic and strategic opportunities.
  • Since the end of World War II, nuclear weapons have threatened international relations. The Cold War produced stalemates that seemed to reduce the threat of nuclear conflict, but several countries’ more recent acquisitions of nuclear weapons have brought the world into a dangerous new era of nuclear uncertainty. With nuclear tensions on the rise once again, what lies ahead for nuclear diplomacy?