Explainers

In Briefs

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

In Brief Filters and Cards

Japan
How Japan Is Upgrading Its Military
Prime Minister Suga will keep working to upgrade Japan’s military amid increasing pressures from China, North Korea, and Russia.
United States
Can the State Department Bring More Diversity to the U.S. Diplomatic Corps?
President Biden has vowed to diversify the top ranks of government agencies. The small and shrinking number of senior Black diplomats, in particular, could undermine U.S. foreign policy goals.
United States
Migrants at the U.S. Border: How Biden’s Approach Differs From Trump’s
President Biden is adopting a different approach than his predecessor to an increasing number of migrants who are arriving at the southern border after fleeing hardship in their home countries.
United States
Breaking Down Biden’s Immigration Actions Through Abbreviations
Abbreviations are a fixture of U.S. immigration policy. CFR explains some of the most commonly referenced agencies, policies, and programs, and what President Biden is doing about them.
Ethiopia
The Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region: What to Know
The military campaign has resulted in a humanitarian crisis and fears of regional instability. A path forward will require international cooperation, careful diplomacy, and an inclusive political process that restores confidence among the country’s diverse population.
Digital Policy
Social Media and Online Speech: How Should Countries Regulate Tech Giants?
Social media has been blamed for spreading disinformation and contributing to violence around the world. What are companies and governments doing about it?
Afghanistan
U.S. Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan: What Are Biden’s Options?
U.S. troops are supposed to leave by May 1, according to a U.S.-Taliban agreement. But a complete withdrawal could be disastrous.
Middle East and North Africa
How Severe Is Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis?
Yemen was suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Then the pandemic struck. Now famine is looming, and signals of changing U.S. policy are being closely watched for how that could affect essential aid.
Transition 2021
Countering Violent Extremism: Three Moves Biden Should Make Now
The United States should implement a broad-based strategy to counter the growing threat of violent extremism at home and abroad. Here are three items the Biden administration can focus on.
Coronavirus
What Is the Defense Production Act?
Presidents Trump and Biden have turned to the Defense Production Act to deal with a shortage of critical medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic. What does the law do?
North Korea
What Kind of North Korea Will Biden Face?
North Korea will likely continue to develop its nuclear program, but Kim Jong-un could return to negotiations if the United States makes concessions.
Russia
Putin vs. Navalny: Can Russia’s Protesters Prevail?
The Putin regime remains strong, but nationwide protests in support of Alexei Navalny are the most serious challenge to it in years.
Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines
What to Know About the Global COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout So Far
Several countries stand out for their success in delivering coronavirus vaccinations, while most of the world is struggling to figure out how to get immunizations into more arms.
Transition 2021
Biden’s First Foreign Policy Move: Reentering International Agreements
Biden has moved to rejoin the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization. They likely won’t be the last international agreements and institutions that the United States reenters.
Transition 2021
The Biden-Harris Inauguration: A Tense Tableau
The inauguration of President Joe Biden was unlike any U.S. power transition in modern times, providing stark imagery of a country at a crossroads.