International Diplomacy


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.

  • Boys help members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent unload parcels of medical and humanitarian aid in Damascus, Syria, July 23, 2015, photo by Bassam Khabieh/Reuters


    A Peace Plan for Syria

    Dec 17, 2015

    The best chance for peace in Syria is for external parties to persuade stakeholders to accept a ceasefire, with further negotiations on a political settlement to follow later. The alternative is the indefinite continuation or even escalation of a devastating war.

  • A Chinese Coast Guard vessel in the South China Sea maneuvers to block a Philippine supply ship with members of the media aboard, March 29, 2014, photo by Erik De Castro/Reuters


    China's Island-Building Stirs Fears, but Creates Openings for the United States

    May 18, 2015

    News of proposed Navy patrols nearby disputed islands claimed by China suggests that the United States is toughening its response to Beijing's assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (center) poses for photo with numerous Asian leaders before the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, September 8, 2016


    The Legacy Obama Leaves His Successor in Asia

    The U.S. pivot to the Indo-Pacific has improved U.S. popularity and influence, and positioned it for gains in regional economic, diplomatic, and military cooperation. The incoming administration would be wise to embrace these gains and build on them to preserve and further develop U.S. interests and influence in the region.

    Oct 26, 2016

  • News Release

    U.S. Interests Abroad Face Steep Challenges

    The United States' interests abroad are facing challenges because the alliances, economic institutions, and political relationships that have made up the international order since the end of World War II are under threat from global upheaval.

    Oct 19, 2016

  • Globes on Chicago Museum Campus


    Building a Sustainable International Order

    Experts are assessing challenges to the post-war international order and how U.S. strategy might adapt to today's changing world.

    Oct 19, 2016

  • A globe and marbles balancing


    U.S. Interests Abroad Face Steep Challenges

    Global upheaval is threatening the alliances, economic institutions, and political relationships that have made up the international order since 1945. This is creating challenges for U.S. interests.

    Oct 19, 2016

  • Report

    Building a Sustainable International Order: Summary of the First Workshop in the International Order Project Series

    This conference summary reflects key insights from a January 2016 workshop discussion that informed the next stages of a project titled "Building a Sustainable International Order."

    Oct 19, 2016

  • Report

    American Grand Strategy and the Liberal Order: Continuity, Change, and Options for the Future

    This Perspective examines continuity and change in U.S. engagement with the liberal international order over time, outlines four alternatives for a future U.S. approach to grand strategy, and proposes criteria for choosing among these options.

    Oct 19, 2016

  • Supporters of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah take down a large portrait of Afghan President Hamid Karzai before a gathering in Kabul July 8, 2014


    Book Review: 'A Kingdom of Their Own: The Family Karzai and the Afghan Disaster'

    Foreign observers of Afghanistan tend to think of former President Hamid Karzai's government as a clan of corrupt thugs, led by a feckless, petulant whiner. Joshua Partlow's book tells the story and explores the question of how much the Karzais were responsible for the deterioration of U.S.-Afghan ties.

    Oct 15, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama gives a thumbs up after his speech at the Rota naval airbase, near Cadiz, Spain, July 10, 2016


    Transatlantic Relations After Obama

    The Obama era will be remembered as the time when America's leadership role in Europe began to shift. Europeans got more freedom of action, but could no longer outsource their foreign and military responsibilities to Washington. Whether Clinton or Trump is elected president, Europe will have to do more.

    Oct 14, 2016

  • Sailors and civilians assigned to Arctic Submarine Lab haul ice to be used for potable water during an exercise, March 15, 2016


    Will the Breakdown in U.S.-Russia Cooperation Reach the Arctic?

    Over the last few decades, the U.S. and Russia have often found common ground on Arctic affairs, at least in such areas as search and rescue and environmental integrity. The Arctic has the potential to remain resistant to tensions building elsewhere.

    Oct 12, 2016

  • An Indian army soldier keeps guard from a bunker near the border with Pakistan in Abdullian, southwest of Jammu, September 30, 2016


    Could the Kashmir Standoff Trigger Nuclear War?

    Militants trained in Pakistan have been raiding the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir for over a quarter of a century, but the recent attack was the deadliest in years. A short-term return to peace remains uncertain and the longer term is even harder to predict.

    Oct 10, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama chairs the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit, focusing on the Counter-ISIL campaign, in Washington, April 1, 2016


    Protect Nuclear Nonproliferation Norms

    Strong and viable global nuclear nonproliferation norms should remain a cornerstone of U.S. security now and into the future. Friends and allies must continue to have confidence in the U.S. strategic nuclear guarantees.

    Oct 9, 2016

  • The White House Situation Room in the basement of the West Wing of the White House is seen during a tour in Washington, DC, May 18, 2007


    National Security Primers for the Next Administration

    The next U.S. administration will face security threats from China, Russia, ISIL, North Korea, and cyberspace. How can officials turn these challenges into opportunities?

    Oct 6, 2016

  • The sun sets over Aleppo, Syria as seen from the rebel-held part of the city, October 5, 2016


    Only the U.S. Can Save Syrians

    Washington must act soon to raise the costs of Syrian and Russian killing in Aleppo. Otherwise, the quarter-million people who live there could be in danger, and the Kremlin might think that it can mount further challenges to the West.

    Oct 6, 2016

  • Young Chinese faithful shelter from the sun as Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican, May 22, 2016


    Taiwan Should Not Worry About the Vatican

    Concerns are growing in Taipei over whether the Holy See intends to switch its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China. Beijing could be entertaining Vatican requests not out of genuine interest in reestablishing relations, but to put Taiwan on edge.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • President Richard M. Nixon meeting in the Oval Office with Vice President Gerald R. Ford, Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, and Chief of Staff Alexander Haig, 1973


    The World Has Passed the Old Grand Strategies By

    The international order is in the midst of an epochal shift, and a new administration will have to rethink basic organizing concepts for America's role in the world. The truth about grand strategy today is that the United States badly needs new options.

    Oct 5, 2016

  • Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirts of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq, March 25, 2016


    How to Roll Back ISIL and Other Terrorist Threats

    ISIL is the most active group among Salafi-jihadists, waging a wide campaign. Defeating the group will require moving it from a quasi-state to an insurgency to a suppressed movement that controls little or no territory or population.

    Sep 30, 2016

  • An image of the China Scorecard, a ranking of U.S. and Chinese military capabilities


    America and China: Rivalry and Partnership

    Under President Xi Jinping, China is modernizing its military and growing more assertive both regionally and globally. But while Chinese leaders will not shy away from confrontation with the United States or its regional neighbors, they also believe that to maintain stability and prosperity, they have no choice but to get along with the United States. Thus, the United States faces an acute strategic dilemma: a U.S.-China relationship characterized by a complex mix of competition and cooperation & and plagued by mutual suspicion and distrust. For example, how should the nation react to Chinese maritime territorial claims? Over-reaction risks escalation while under-reaction risks emboldening China, which could mistake U.S. moderation for weakness or declining commitment to the Asia-Pacific.

    Sep 30, 2016

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks at a news conference near the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, September 22, 2016


    Whoever Wins the Presidency, the Next Big International Crisis Will Come from Iran

    The next U.S. president is likely to meet many international crises after taking office, and Iran may be one of the most challenging. The continuing climate of repression, the next Iranian presidential election, and Khamenei's eventual demise may provide some important opportunities for him or her.

    Sep 29, 2016

  • Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen waves during her inauguration ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan, May 20, 2016


    A Bumpy Road Ahead for China-Taiwan Relations

    Taiwanese President Tsai has issued numerous political overtures to Beijing, yet Chinese President Xi has demonstrated a clear reluctance to accept her as a credible partner. Instead, he has turned up the heat on Tsai in an attempt to undermine her administration.

    Sep 22, 2016

  • Wargaming shows Russian attack in the Baltics would get to Riga and Tallinn in at most 60 hours


    A New Era in Relations with Russia

    In the last decade, Russia has revamped its military, invaded two neighboring countries, intervened on behalf of President Bashar al Assad in Syria, and threatened NATO with nuclear saber rattling, aerial incursions, and military exercises.

    Sep 21, 2016