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

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?  
Middle East and North Africa
What’s the Fallout From the Killing of a Top Iranian Nuclear Scientist?
The assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh will intensify debate in Tehran over whether to reengage in the nuclear deal with the Biden administration.
Coronavirus
Home for Thanksgiving: How Holidays May Present a Public Health Threat
COVID-19 cases are surging across the United States, forcing Americans to weigh the risks of gathering for the Thanksgiving holiday. How have other countries handled holidays amid the pandemic?
Europe and Eurasia
Has Russia Ended the War Between Armenia and Azerbaijan?
Azerbaijan’s success in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh means Putin’s peace deal is likely to last. It also rules out further diplomacy.
Peru
Peru’s Democratic Crisis
President Martin Vizcarra’s ouster has caused turmoil and a leadership vacuum, amid economic turbulence and severe pandemic strains. Why has Peru endured so much political upheaval?
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.