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.
  • 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.
  • Presidents Biden and Yoon pledged to deepen and broaden the scope of the U.S.-South Korea alliance, but their success could depend on how China, Japan, and North Korea respond.
  • Hezbollah and its allies suffered serious losses in May’s parliamentary elections, and a divided Parliament will likely struggle to agree on a path out of Lebanon’s current crisis.
  • Colombia’s election could deliver the country’s first left-wing president, an outcome with the potential to transform Bogota’s approaches to economic policy, peace negotiations, and foreign relations.
  • 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.