Explainers

Timelines

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

Timelines Filters and Cards

Olympics
Politics and Protest at the Olympics
The International Olympic Committee says the games are not meant to be political. But governments and athletes have frequently used the Olympics to make statements through boycotts and protests.
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 brought the world to a near halt in 2020 and has killed nearly seven million people, underscores the urgency.
Japan
Last Days of Imperial Japan
Japan experienced unparalleled destruction by U.S. military forces during World War II, resulting in its complete capitulation. Washington played a decisive role in Tokyo’s postwar transition and reconstruction, but the legacy of Japan’s imperial wartime actions continues to be a source of tension with its Asia-Pacific neighbors.
Border and Port Security
U.S.-Mexico Relations
Over the course of two hundred years, the United States and Mexico have developed rich diplomatic, economic, and cultural ties but at times clashed over borders, migration, trade, and an escalating drug war.
Energy and Environment
Oil Dependence and U.S. Foreign Policy
The United States’ dependence on oil has long influenced its foreign policy. U.S. oil development spans three major periods: the rise of oil as a commodity, beginning in 1850; the post–World War II age of geopolitical competition; and the post–Cold War era of deregulation and diversification. Most recently, Russia’s war with Ukraine has aggravated geopolitical tensions and revived the debate about U.S. energy independence.
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.
Financial Markets
The U.S. Financial Crisis
The financial meltdown that started with the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble had worldwide economic repercussions, including recessions, far-reaching regulations, and deep-seated political discontent. Track its buildup and aftermath.
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.
Somalia
Al-Shabaab in East Africa
With brazen terrorist attacks at home and abroad, the Somalia-based Islamist insurgent group has proved resilient despite strategic setbacks in recent years.
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.
United States
U.S. Postwar Immigration Policy
Immigration has been an important element of U.S. economic and cultural vitality since the country’s founding. This interactive timeline outlines the evolution of U.S. immigration policy after World War II.
Ukraine
Ukraine’s Struggle for Independence in Russia’s Shadow
Ukraine has been dogged by corruption scandals, economic mismanagement, and Russian interference since it achieved independence in 1991. Russian threats have intensified as Ukraine's ties with the United States and Europe have improved in recent years.
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.
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.