Explainers

In Briefs

Succinct rundowns on the world’s most important developments, produced by CFR’s scholars and editorial team. 

In Brief Filters and Cards

Climate Change
COP27 Didn’t Make Enough Progress to Prevent Climate Catastrophe
The UN climate summit delivered on a loss and damage fund, but it fell short on goals to reduce emissions and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Iran
Do Iran’s Women Protesters Have the Power to Topple the Regime?
Despite limits to their political and social power, Iranian women are leading protests that could jeopardize the regime.
COVID-19
When Will COVID-19 Become Endemic?
Government leaders are optimistic that COVID-19 is becoming endemic, meaning more predictable and manageable. But many scientists say it’s too soon to behave like the pandemic is over.
Germany
Germany’s China Policy: Has It Learned From Its Dependency on Russia?
The German economy remains heavily dependent on China, its largest trading partner, despite mounting geopolitical tensions between the West and Beijing.
Venezuela
Do U.S. Sanctions on Venezuela Work?
Given Venezuela’s urgent humanitarian needs and the global energy crunch, Washington is considering easing sanctions on Caracas in exchange for democratic reforms.
North Korea
North Korea Has Escalated Its Military Provocations. Here’s Why.
North Korea seeks to exploit major-power rivalries and weaken U.S.-South Korea ties with its ramped-up missile testing. Already, it has ratcheted up nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula to their highest level in years.
Climate Change
COP27 Climate Summit in Egypt: What to Expect
Countries made big pledges at last year’s UN climate conference, but greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. This year’s event in Sharm el-Sheikh will focus on translating those commitments into action.
Russia
Can Iranian Drones Turn Russia’s Fortunes in the Ukraine War?
Russia is targeting Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure with Iranian-made loitering munitions. Are these weapons effective in shaping the war? 
Brazil
Bolsonaro vs. Lula: What’s at Stake in Brazil’s 2022 Election
Brazil’s presidential election is down to two polarizing candidates, and experts say the runoff will be a major test for one of the world’s largest democracies.
China
Politics Will Determine China’s Economic Future During Xi’s Third Term
Xi Jinping received a rare third term as head of the Chinese Communist Party and elevated his loyalists to its top leadership body. Here’s what that means for China’s economy.
Middle East and North Africa
How Much Influence Does Iran Have in Iraq?
Iran has built considerable political clout in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Its wide sphere of influence could be expanding, raising domestic tensions and alarming U.S. policymakers.
Germany
On the Ukraine War, Germany Has a Leadership Problem. Here’s Why.
Germany is providing critical weapon systems to Ukraine in the grinding war with Russia, but it remains reluctant to lead on European security.
Russia
Who Are Russia’s War Hawks, and Do They Matter?
The evolving views of hard-liners within Russia’s paramilitary, media, and national security establishments offer important clues as to the direction Putin will take the war in Ukraine.
Energy and Environment
The U.S. Needs to Prepare for More Billion-Dollar Climate Disasters Like Hurricane Ian
Billion-dollar disasters such as Hurricane Ian are on the rise in the United States. Officials should take swift action to reduce the damage and protect Americans.
Iran
Iran’s Protests, Raisi’s UN Speech, and Nuclear Deal Talks: What to Know
The death of Mahsa Amini has sparked large-scale protests in Iran. But President Raisi’s speech at the UN General Assembly signals that the regime is not likely to soften its stance toward the Iranian people nor toward the West.