Explainers

  • In the wake of President Trump’s combative approach to trade, and with major negotiations stalled, the future of global trade rules is in doubt.  
  • International efforts, such as the Paris Agreement, aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say countries aren’t doing enough to limit dangerous global warming.
  • Communist Cuba has long been a major foreign policy challenge for the United States. President Biden is the latest U.S. leader to grapple with how to balance democracy promotion with the desire for a better bilateral relationship.
  • The Group of Twenty, an informal gathering of many of the world’s largest economies, is the premier global forum for discussing economic issues. But it has faced divisions over trade and the response to climate change.
  • The Biden administration has unveiled plans to dramatically ramp up the nation’s offshore wind industry to help fulfill U.S. climate pledges. How realistic is the roadmap?
  • The Chinese government has used a variety of tactics to silence its critics. Could international attention on tennis player Peng Shuai’s case push Beijing to change?
  • Neither the military nor pro-democracy forces are backing down after last month’s coup. The stakes are high not only for Sudan, but also for fragile democracies across Africa.
  • Fears of a Russian military offensive against Ukraine are back. NATO should bolster support for Kyiv and the United States should signal new efforts to thwart a controversial Russian energy pipeline.
  • As the focus on environmental and social justice issues has increased, green parties have grown in influence across many countries. Here’s how they’re reshaping today’s political landscape.
  • A handful of countries including China and Russia are breaking new ground in developing space weapons. Does that mean the world is headed for an arms race in space?
  • There were 2.8 million Afghan refugees in 2020, half of whom were living in Pakistan. Here are the countries that could host many of the Afghans fleeing the country after the Taliban’s takeover.
  • Only eight out of nearly fifty sub-Saharan countries are considered free. Here’s why democracy is declining across the region.
  • 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 United States' dependence on oil has long influenced its foreign policy. This three-part timeline traces the story of U.S. oil development, and the resulting geopolitical competition and environmental concerns, in more than forty milestones. The three major periods include the rise of oil as a commodity, beginning in 1850; the post-WWII age of geopolitical competition; and the current era of deregulation and diversification.
  • 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.
  • The Taliban surged back to power two decades after U.S.-led forces toppled its regime in what led to the United States’ longest war.