Diplomacy, the practice of international relations, is an area in which RAND has significant research experience. Among RAND's many experts are former ambassadors whose research and commentary on both long-term efforts and current events shed light on how diplomatic ventures can be integral to national security goals and activities, including traditional military interventions, nuclear arms control, and nation-building efforts.
The lesson here is not that countries should act for the sake of maintaining credibility but that they should act when they believe it serves their interests and might make a difference, writes Dalia Dassa Kaye.
Obviously it will not always be possible to avoid the use of force and the risk of escalation. But the US and its allies cannot take the possibility of military responses against nuclear regional adversaries off the table without limiting its own strategic options, eroding its influence, and threatening its security.
Tehran views Syria as a strategic gateway to the Arab world, a bulwark against American and Israeli power, and, perhaps most importantly, a crucial link to Lebanese Hezbollah, writes Alireza Nader.
To preserve and protect the peace and freedom that has seen Asia develop into a third engine of the global economy, the United States and South Korea should take steps to deepen their security cooperation in three areas: bilateral alliance management, defense force modernization, and improved regional diplomatic coordination.
Three major areas appear to have been the focus of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's recent summit: managing expectations about the relationship; expanding bilateral trade in energy and arms; and cooperation on international security affairs.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are working hard to repair relations between Turkey and Israel and deserve credit for their efforts. But much has changed for both countries since they cooperated in the 1990s, and progress toward rapprochement will likely be slow.
Syria is looking more like a collapsed state every day. Nearly a million people have now fled Syria for safety abroad. Meanwhile, the influence of extremist groups, such as the al Nusrah Front, continues to grow as these groups slip into the areas vacated by the Syrian state, writes Christopher Chivvis.
Even if Japan and China ease the tensions in their dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyus islands, the United States should gird itself for further uncomfortable contingencies in the coming years, writes David Shlapak.
With the leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) now apparently ready to try to peacefully resolve differences with Turkey, the prospects that the uprising will come to an end have improved, writes F. Stephen Larrabee.
Unless he can convince allies like Turkey as well as skeptics like Russia that the United States is serious about altering the trajectory of the conflict, Kerry might as well skip the Syria talking points and focus on other issues.
To make this meeting successful, Washington and Tokyo will need to gain greater clarity on three broad areas: security, trade, and common values, writes Scott Harold.
Unless the Obama administration can design a strategy that can engage the Russians despite their preconceptions, which have been consistently stated in diplomatic encounters over the past two years, Russia is unlikely to agree to an informal agreement on further reductions, writes Lowell Schwartz.
Khamenei's mounting pressures may compel him to be more flexible on the nuclear program, writes Alireza Nader. Otherwise, he will face greater sanctions, more internal political opposition, and, possibly, the wrath of his own people.
If Obama's election didn't change Tehran's view of U.S. policy, it's hard to see how Hagel's nomination could. After all, America's war-weariness is no secret, and it's hardly limited to Vietnam veterans such as Hagel, writes Alireza Nader.
Iran is still willing to give diplomacy a chance after a seven-month hiatus, as demonstrated by the announcement of new talks. But Tehran wants the P5+1 to make the first move, writes Alireza Nader.
The Islamic Republic faces the potential of stronger economic sanctions and even a military strike because of its intransigence in complying with U.N. resolutions on its nuclear program. It also must deal with twin domestic challenges—deepening malaise among the young and increasing tensions among the political elite, writes Alireza Nader.
Like it or not, the United States counts among its allies a number of authoritarian Arab countries, and they are essential partners in protecting its interests, writes Seth G. Jones. The normative hope that liberal democracy may flourish in the future must be balanced by the need to work with governments and societies as they exist today.
There's been no meaningful sign that the Russians are willing to withdraw valuable political, military, and economic support for Assad, says Andrew Weiss. We should not be surprised if Moscow's obstinance on Syria proves rather durable.
Perhaps the best way to avoid confrontation is to cooperate on shared external threats, most notably nuclear proliferation, global climate change, and Islamic extremism. But getting to 2030 without a major confrontation will be a major achievement, writes Harold Brown.
Specific areas of focus for President Obama's visit are likely to include expanding trade and investment opportunities for U.S. businesses in Southeast Asia, increasing defense cooperation with Thailand, and offers of disaster recovery assistance to Burma in the wake of its recent earthquake, writes Scott Harold.