Timelines

Chronologies of major foreign policy and security developments, both in the United States and globally.

Timelines Filters and Cards

Climate Change
UN Climate Talks
Since 1992, when the United Nations recognized climate change as a serious issue, negotiations among countries have produced notable accords, such as the Paris Agreement. But leaders have struggled to maintain momentum and failed to slow global temperature rise.
Energy and Environment
Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy
The United States' dependence on oil has long influenced its foreign policy. This three-part timeline traces the story of U.S. oil development, and the resulting geopolitical competition and environmental concerns, in more than forty milestones. The three major periods include the rise of oil as a commodity, beginning in 1850; the post-WWII age of geopolitical competition; and the current era of deregulation and diversification.
Colombia
U.S.-Colombia Relations
Over the two centuries since Colombia’s independence, the relationship between Washington and Bogota has evolved into a close economic and security partnership. But it has at times been strained by U.S. intervention, Cold War geopolitics, and the war on drugs.
Afghanistan War
The U.S. War in Afghanistan
The Taliban surged back to power two decades after U.S.-led forces toppled its regime in what led to the United States’ longest war.
9/11
How 9/11 Reshaped Foreign Policy
The events of September 11, 2001, set in motion sweeping changes to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism practices, launched two major wars, and altered Americans’ daily routines. This timeline traces three pivotal years whose reverberations continue today.
Middle East and North Africa
Modern Sunni-Shia Tensions
Iran’s Islamic revolution, which brought Shias to power in 1979, and the Sunni backlash have fueled a competition for regional dominance. This timeline highlights Sunni-Shia tensions in recent decades.
Energy and Environment
Ecological Disasters
Industrial disasters around the world, many involving multinational corporations, have caused significant health, environmental, and economic damages. Such tragedies have also led to lengthy legal challenges and prompted new global regulations.  
Cuba
U.S.-Cuba Relations
Since Fidel Castro’s ascent to power in 1959, U.S.-Cuba ties have endured a nuclear crisis, a long U.S. economic embargo, and political hostilities. The diplomatic relationship remained frozen well beyond the end of the Cold War but moved toward normalization during the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, whose policies were largely rolled back under President Donald Trump.
Courts and Tribunals
Leaders Facing Justice
Since 1945, many regime leaders and key figures have been brought before domestic and international courts to answer to charges including genocide and crimes against humanity, amid a larger struggle to promote and enforce the rule of law worldwide.
Middle East and North Africa
U.S. Relations With Iran, 1953–2021
Onetime allies, the United States and Iran have seen tensions escalate repeatedly in the four decades since the Islamic Revolution.
China
U.S. Relations With China
Since 1949, U.S.-China relations have evolved from tense standoffs to a complex mix of intensifying diplomacy, growing international rivalry, and increasingly intertwined economies.
Public Health Threats and Pandemics
Major Epidemics of the Modern Era
For more than a century, countries have wrestled with how to improve international cooperation in the face of major outbreaks of infectious diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic, which killed more than 2.5 million people and brought the world to a near halt in 2020, underscores the urgency.
United States
U.S.-Russia Nuclear Arms Control
The nuclear arms race was perhaps the most alarming feature of the Cold War competition between the United States and Soviet Union. Over the decades, the two sides signed various arms control agreements as a means to manage their rivalry and limit the risk of nuclear war. However, deep fissures have reemerged in the U.S.-Russia relationship in recent years, raising once again the specter of a nuclear arms race.
Kurds
The Kurds’ Quest for Independence
The Kurds are one of the world’s largest peoples without a state, making up sizable minorities in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Their century-old quest for independence is marked by marginalization and persecution.
United States
Trump’s Foreign Policy Moments
Donald J. Trump’s presidency marked a profound departure from U.S. leadership in areas such as trade and diplomacy, as well as an across-the-board toughening of immigration policies.