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

Transition 2021
How Can Corporate Leaders Do More to Defend Democracy?
In the wake of the assault on the U.S. Capitol, corporate leaders have taken a strong stand for democratic institutions. How does this fit into trends of corporate activism, and what comes next?
United States
After Trump, Is American Democracy Doomed by Populism?
The Trump presidency has demonstrated the appeal of populist authoritarianism to many Americans. The way the country responds to the attack on the U.S. Capitol will indicate how long this movement lasts.
Transition 2021
After Trump: What Will Biden Do on Trade?
President Trump disrupted U.S. trade policy in the name of better deals. President-Elect Biden proposes a combination of stronger domestic investment and better coordination with allies.
Coronavirus
How Dangerous Are New COVID-19 Strains?
The global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is underway, but the emergence of new coronavirus strains threatens to make the pandemic far worse before it gets better.
United States
Domestic Terrorism Strikes U.S. Capitol, and Democracy
The breaching of the U.S. Capitol and disruption of the presidential succession by a pro-Trump mob has inflicted lasting damage on the nation’s image as a bastion of democracy. The country should now dedicate itself to rebuilding civil discourse.
Nigeria
What’s Behind the Recent Student Abductions in Nigeria?
Abductions of hundreds of students in northwestern Nigeria are the latest examples of a common tactic among criminal and jihadi groups, underscoring that Boko Haram is far from the government’s only problem in the north.
Transition 2021
What’s Next for Foreign Aid Under Biden?
The Trump administration sought to reframe foreign aid around competition with China and Russia, but shrinking budgets and inconsistent policies undermined the effort. How will President-Elect Joe Biden proceed?
European Union
What’s in the EU-UK Brexit Deal?
The European Union and the United Kingdom came to a last-minute trade deal on Christmas Eve, narrowly averting the hardest of all potential Brexits. But major uncertainty remains.
Pharmaceuticals and Vaccines
COVID-19: Why Vaccination 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.
Energy and Climate Policy
What’s Next for Fracking Under Biden?
President-Elect Joe Biden has walked a fine line on fracking, seeking to allow the practice while proposing restrictions to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. How have other countries approached fracking?
United States
The Challenge of Hurricane Response Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
In 2020, U.S. struggles to manage a record-breaking hurricane season were exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. Intensifying storms reveal faults in infrastructure and disaster response that experts say must be addressed.
United Kingdom
What Would a No-Deal Brexit Look Like?
The United Kingdom and the European Union have been unable to reach a deal to define their post-Brexit relationship after nearly a year of talks. A severe disruption to trade between them looks increasingly likely.
Middle East and North Africa
What Morocco’s Agreement With Israel Means for the Wider Middle East
With six Arab states having established relations with Israel, a new Middle East is taking shape. But the diplomatic progress, facilitated by the Trump administration’s compensation to those states, has its limits.
Climate Change
Biden’s Climate Change Policy: Why His Special Envoy Role Matters
President-Elect Joe Biden’s appointment of John Kerry to a newly created climate envoy position shows that he is committed to returning the United States to its status as a global leader on climate change.
Censorship and Freedom of Expression
Trump and Section 230: What to Know
President Trump has threatened to veto a major defense funding bill over a law that protects social media companies from liability for what their users post. Why is it controversial?