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

Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines
COVID-19: Why Vaccine Coverage Is Important
Vaccines are a major public health success story, but the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the many challenges involved in getting a vaccine to everyone who needs it.
Bolivia
Understanding Bolivia’s Election
Exit polls indicate socialist candidate Luis Arce will become Bolivia’s next president. The peaceful vote signaled an end to a year of electoral uncertainty, but the victor will now confront social upheaval and economic hardship intensified by the coronavirus pandemic. 
Election 2020
How Will U.S. Elections Be Judged by Other Democracies?
The 2020 U.S. election is threatened by pandemic-related disruptions as well as long-standing weaknesses that could undermine its legitimacy. How will international election observers judge the process?
Middle East and North Africa
Iran-Backed Militias in Iraq Poised to Expand Influence
Any sharp drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq grants Iran a golden opportunity to expand its influence there and threatens to inflame sectarian tensions.
Election 2020
Right-Wing Extremists: A Looming Threat to the U.S. Election
Heavily armed, right-wing groups are poised to rebel against the election if President Trump loses, an extraordinary danger to U.S. democracy.
United Kingdom
What’s Going On With Brexit?
The United Kingdom and European Union are engaged in another bout of Brexit brinkmanship, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson pushing a bill that would undo their previous agreement. Here’s what to know.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
How Is the U.S. Military Pivoting in Europe?
The U.S. military is considering some major shifts to its posture in Europe, including a large withdrawal from bases in Germany, that are raising security concerns on the continent.
Climate Change
Why U.S. Wildfires Will Only Get Worse
Fires in California and Oregon have been more devastating than ever before, but climate change means the worst is yet to come. Here’s how officials can prepare.
Middle East and North Africa
Is Lebanon a Failed State? Here’s What the Numbers Say.
The August explosions in Beirut were the latest in a series of man-made disasters that have led some experts to say Lebanon is becoming a failed state.
Afghanistan
Peace Talks Have Begun in Afghanistan, Major Pitfalls Await
Although negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government are historic, they are unlikely to result in a quick breakthrough.
China
How China Ramped Up Disinformation Efforts During the Pandemic
Beijing has increased its manipulation of information as well as disinformation efforts around COVID-19 to damage democracies and boost itself, but its strategies have had mixed results.
Demonstrations and Protests
Tear Gas and the Politics of Protest Policing
Tear gas is banned in international warfare, and its health risks are well-documented. Still, it remains a crowd-control agent of choice for police worldwide.
China
Does Chinese State Media Pose a Threat to the United States?
The White House has taken a tough approach to Chinese state media, but its actions may prove counterproductive.
Belarus
Putin and Belarus: Five Reasons Not to Save Lukashenko
Vladimir Putin is no fan of democracy movements in Russia’s neighborhood, but trying to turn off the protests in Belarus will be risky.
Middle East and North Africa
What’s Behind the New Israel-UAE Peace Deal?
The United Arab Emirates has agreed to normalize relations with Israel, paving the way for other Arab nations to do the same but angering the Palestinians.