International Diplomacy

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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.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Commentary

    Rocky Road Ahead Likely for U.S.-China Relations

    Apr 11, 2017

    The first summit with President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping downplayed contentious issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea. But the differences run deep, and frustration is palpable on both sides. Moreover, the competition for international leadership continues.

  • People fleeing violence in ISIS-controlled al-Bab, Syria arrive in the town's rebel-held outskirts, February 3, 2017, photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

    Report

    Finding a Way Forward in Syria

    Feb 8, 2017

    After six years of fighting in Syria, the odds of removing the Assad regime are worse than ever. But the new U.S. administration could help de-escalate the conflict by focusing on a realistic outcome: a decentralized Syria with agreed regional zones backed by external powers.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to people attending a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017.

    Commentary

    China's Role in Dissuading North Korea from a Chemical Weapons Attack

    North Korea's brash pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and disregard for chemical weapons norms are enormously troubling. China's engagement will be essential in convincing Kim Jong Un that the use of chemical weapons is a red line that cannot be crossed.

    Apr 24, 2017

  • Locals read promotional boards about planned economic zones along the China-North Korea border in Nanping, China, March 27, 2017

    Commentary

    Despite Promising Signs, China's North Korea Policy Unchanged

    Official statements and public discussions on China's willingness to punish or otherwise influence North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a direction favorable to U.S. interests have been optimistic lately. But China's continued support of the North should temper expectations.

    Apr 24, 2017

  • Dalia Dassa Kaye speaks at a RAND Policy Circle event at RAND's headquarters campus in Santa Monica, California, September 19, 2016

    Q&A

    What to Expect in the Middle East: Q&A with Dalia Dassa Kaye

    Dalia Dassa Kaye explains why there's more to the Middle East than what appears in daily headlines, how RAND is working to help people in the region, and more.

    Apr 24, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem (back to camera) attend a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 29, 2015.

    Commentary

    How the West Can Press Putin to Keep Assad in Order

    Moscow has achieved tactical successes in Syria, but without Western and regional help, its long-term strategic interests could be at risk. Denying strong evidence that the regime of Bashar al-Assad attacked civilians with sarin gas makes it harder for Moscow to obtain the Western and regional help it needs to secure its interests there.

    Apr 24, 2017

  • Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech to Conservative Party members to launch their election campaign in Walmsley Parish Hall, Bolton, Britain April 19, 2017

    Commentary

    The Snap Election, What's in It for Theresa May?

    Why would Theresa May take the risk of a national election, which otherwise wouldn't be needed until 2020, and what does she expect to gain from it? Calling an election now enables May to take decisive control of her party and should strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations.

    Apr 23, 2017

  • The guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a Tomahawk land attack missile April 7, 2017

    Commentary

    (Withholding) Judgment of the U.S. Missile Strike on Syria

    Any feeling person would welcome the Syrian regime being constrained from future chemical weapons use against its own people. However, it is unclear whether the U.S. missile strike will achieve that outcome. It could invite unintended consequences.

    Apr 19, 2017

  • Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with his Ukrainian counterpart Pavlo Klimkin during talks on the crisis in eastern Ukraine, in Minsk, Belarus, November 29, 2016.

    Commentary

    The Ukraine Crisis: Why Everyone Loses

    The Ukraine conflict has left every major actor involved worse off than it was before, and a resolution seems as elusive as ever. An inclusive dialogue on the regional order could be the first step toward defusing the conflict.

    Apr 19, 2017

  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley prepares to speak at a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, April 12, 2017

    Commentary

    The Limits of Going It Alone in Syria

    Very little on the ground in Syria has changed since the U.S. missile strikes against the Assad regime. To translate this military action into policy gains, it will be necessary to follow up with increased diplomatic coordination with international partners and institutions.

    Apr 18, 2017

  • A battle damage assessment image of Shayrat Airfield, Syria, following U.S. missile strikes, April 6, 2017

    Commentary

    The Need for a Strategy from the Trump Administration

    The Trump administration's strategy toward Syria, Russia, and its campaign to counter the Islamic State group needs to be guided by a clear sense of priorities and realism regarding the stakes for the U.S. Its standing in the Middle East and the world could depend on how skillfully this crisis is handled.

    Apr 10, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with China's President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 7, 2017

    Commentary

    Five Dead-Ends — and One Risky Opportunity — When Trump and Xi Talk North Korea

    Among President Trump's options, proposing a deal that gives the North Korean elite an alternative to its murderous and unstable leader could be the safest and most realistic way to sheath North Korean nuclear weapons and safeguard the American people.

    Apr 10, 2017

  • An American flag behind a chess board

    Commentary

    A Three-Menu Path for Trump Foreign Policy

    The Trump administration would benefit from a comprehensive strategic orientation — a basic set of operating principles backed by a set of actions and realistic budget — to guide the innumerable tactical decisions of U.S. foreign policy.

    Apr 10, 2017

  • Gibraltar profile with Euro flag

    Commentary

    This Latest Gibraltar Dispute Is a Sign of Things to Come

    In many ways, Gibraltar is the first Brexit issue where both the UK and EU find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. How this diplomatic problem is resolved now could help set the tone for Brexit negotiations during the next two years.

    Apr 5, 2017

  • Law enforcement officers walk during a gathering denouncing the new tax on those not in full-time employment in Minsk, Belarus, March 25, 2017

    Commentary

    Belarus: Between Russia and the West

    Public demonstrations in Minsk and across Russia hint that winds of political change and disillusionment with stagnation and corruption may be reaching both countries. Their leaders will blame the West, try to ride out the protests and, despite differences, will likely stick together.

    Mar 29, 2017

  • British Prime Minister Theresa May signs the official letter invoking Article 50 and the UK's intention to leave the EU, March 28, 2017, London

    Commentary

    Brexit and the Politics of Raising Barriers

    A lot is known about bringing new members into alliances and trade relationships. Not much is known about dismantling these bonds peaceably. Since Brexit will be more about adding barriers than taking them down, it will be a leap into the dark.

    Mar 29, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence attend a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss trade deals at the White House in Washington, February 2, 2017

    Commentary

    Strategic Consequences of U.S. Withdrawal from TPP

    America's withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership has exacerbated doubts about U.S. international leadership and America's role in Asia. Future trade agreements could face similar fates until they do a better job outlining how domestic workers can prosper.

    Mar 27, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference in Moscow, December 23, 2016

    Commentary

    What Americans Need to Know if Russia Intervenes in Libya's Civil War

    Indications that Russia could intervene militarily in Libya's civil war are growing. If it does, the Trump White House will face a tangle of unpleasant choices with far-reaching consequences.

    Mar 26, 2017

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA

    Commentary

    Murder, Missiles, and Messages from North Korea

    Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile on February 12 — one day before Kim Jong Nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was murdered in Malaysia — and four more on March 6. What would lead North Korea to carry out these provocations?

    Mar 24, 2017

  • Soldiers drive a CM33 Clouded Leopard infantry fighting vehicle during the annual Han Kuang military drill simulating the PLA invading the island, in southern Taiwan, August 25, 2016

    Commentary

    Why China Will Not Unify with Taiwan by 2020

    The prospects for peaceful unification of China and Taiwan continue to dim. Nothing Beijing has tried to woo or coerce Taiwan has worked. For those determined to compel Taiwan's unification, military subjugation remains a last option. But it would only worsen China's security environment.

    Mar 21, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference in Moscow, March 10, 2017

    Commentary

    How Putin Ensnares

    President Vladimir Putin is Russia's charmer-in-chief, with years of experience in high-level diplomacy. As part of Russia's influence operations, Putin may seek to entice or suborn Western leaders. How might he try to win them over?

    Mar 18, 2017