Explainers

  • The Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan in 2021, twenty years after their ouster by U.S. troops. Under their harsh rule, they have cracked down on women’s rights and neglected basic services.
  • The United States is the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. Its decision to either continue at this pace or curb production to achieve its climate goals will have global consequences.
  • Differences over Taiwan’s status have fueled rising tensions between the island and the mainland. And Taiwan has the potential to be a flash point in U.S.-China relations.
  • Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Congress for years, moving controversial policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government.
  • The Inflation Reduction Act promises the largest investment in climate action in U.S. history—$370 billion—and could lead to significant emissions reductions over the next decade.  
  • The United Nations is fast-tracking discussions that aim to forge an international agreement to curb plastic waste, one of the most pervasive and hazardous environmental pollutants.
  • A year after the U.S. withdrawal, half of Afghanistan’s population faces a food emergency, and the Taliban regime acts with cruelty and indifference.
  • Targeted operations by U.S. forces have eliminated notorious leaders of armed extremist groups, al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri the latest among them. But how much they disrupt these terrorist organizations is questionable.
  • Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan senior fellow for Russian and Eurasian studies at CFR and Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis professor of international diplomacy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the current course of the war in Ukraine and the potential for a diplomatic settlement to end the fighting.
  • In this special episode of The World Next Week, Heather A. Conley, president of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, joins James M. Lindsay and Robert McMahon to discuss the books they recommend reading, the books they’re looking forward to reading, and the podcasts they’re listening to for fun this summer. (This is a rebroadcast.) Read more about Jim, Bob, and Heather’s picks on Jim’s blog, The Water’s Edge.
  • James M. Lindsay sits down with Ali Wyne, senior analyst of Global Macro-Geopolitics at Eurasia Group, to discuss great power competition and the growing rivalry between the United States and China, and Russia.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In 2022, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates seventy years on the throne. With Barbados the latest country to sever its ties to the British Crown, debate over whether to stay in the Commonwealth is spreading across the Caribbean. Why are countries choosing to leave, and what could that mean for the future of the monarchy?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The International Olympic Committee says the games are not meant to be political. But governments and athletes have frequently used the Olympics to make statements through boycotts and protests.
  • For more than a century, countries have wrestled with how to improve international cooperation in the face of major outbreaks of infectious diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the world to a near halt in 2020 and has killed more than six million people, underscores the urgency.