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

Russia
Does Putin’s Gamble Make Russia’s War in Ukraine More Dangerous?
Russia’s moves to mobilize thousands more troops and to annex more of Ukraine’s territory signal a new, potentially more dangerous phase of the war.
United Kingdom
What Will King Charles III Mean for the British Monarchy Overseas?
The succession from Queen Elizabeth II to Charles could accelerate anti-monarchy movements in countries where the Crown is still head of state.
Health
U.S. Life Expectancy Is in Decline. Why Aren’t Other Countries Suffering the Same Problem?
COVID-19 is contributing to a dramatic decline in the average lifespan of Americans. The drop-off is canceling out decades of public health gains and stretching the gap between the United States and its peers.
Middle East and North Africa
Egypt Is Hosting COP27. Can It Become Africa’s Climate Champion?
As host of the UN climate talks, Egypt is trying to attract financial support for the continent’s climate actions. But its record of repression and reliance on fossil fuels threaten to undercut that effort.
Middle East and North Africa
How Inter-Shia Strife Is Threatening Iraqi Security
Violence between rival Shiite factions has raised concerns that Iraq’s weak government is facing prolonged political upheaval.
Brazil
Deforestation of Brazil’s Amazon Has Reached a Record High. What’s Being Done?
Scientists say the rain forest is approaching a critical tipping point at which the damage is irreversible.
United States
How Does U.S. Voter Turnout Compare to the Rest of the World’s?
The debate over how to address persistently low voter turnout is heating up ahead of the midterm elections.
Middle East and North Africa
How Israel and Turkey Benefit From Restoring Relations
The reopening of diplomatic ties with Israel is the latest move in Turkey’s regional rapprochement. With it, Ankara aims to bolster national security and its wavering economy.
Climate Change
What the Historic U.S. Climate Bill Gets Right and Gets Wrong
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.  
Climate Change
Why the UN Is Taking on Plastic Pollution
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.
Afghanistan
The U.S. Holds Limited Influence in the Taliban’s Afghanistan
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.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
Do Targeted Killings Weaken Terrorist Groups?
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.
Terrorism and Counterterrorism
What Zawahiri’s Killing Means for al-Qaeda
Ayman al-Zawahiri leaves behind a robust network of strategically aligned but tactically independent al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
United States
The Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling Will Delay U.S. Climate Action
The Supreme Court’s decision on the EPA also undermines Biden’s leadership in the global fight against climate change.
NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
NATO Countries Signal Resolve at Summit: What Does It Mean for Russia?
The Madrid summit paved the way for Finland and Sweden to join and underscored that Russia is NATO’s chief security threat. But the alliance’s new defensive efforts aren’t likely to change Putin’s strategy in Ukraine.