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

  • French President Emmanuel Macron rides in a helicopter as he visits French troops in Africa's Sahel region in Gao, northern Mali, 19 May 2017.

    Commentary

    The U.S.-France Dustup Over Counterterrorism in the Sahel

    It's time for Paris and Washington to get together with the G5 nations of the Sahel and draft a strategy for achieving shared objectives. The French cannot do it alone or even with the support of the G5 nations. The U.S. would be penny wise but pound foolish to stay aloof or even just uphold the status quo.

    Jun 23, 2017

  • Report

    Enhancing Next-Generation Diplomacy Through Best Practices in Lessons Learned

    To help the Department of State mature its enterprisewide lessons-learned capabilities, this report explores best practices across fields of organizational theory and within both public and private organizations.

    Jun 21, 2017

  • News Release

    Senior RAND Fellow Reflects on 50 Years of U.S. Diplomacy

    From Vietnam in the 1960s to the Afghanistan of this decade, James Dobbins has been on the frontlines of American diplomacy, working to advance U.S. national interests in some of the world's most difficult and troubled situations. His new book provides a thoughtful insider's account.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • James Dobbins with Hamid Karzai in the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 2001

    Commercial Book

    An Insider's Look at 50 Years of American Diplomacy

    RAND's James Dobbins spent five decades on the frontlines of U.S. diplomacy. Now he takes readers behind the scenes of the Vietnam peace talks, the Cold War, German reunification, the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, and more.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • Report

    NATO's Northeastern Flank: Emerging Opportunities for Engagement

    This report examines the impact of renewed tension between NATO and Russia on key allies and partners in central and northeastern Europe to identify how changes in their interests, strategies, and capabilities affect U.S. partnering in the region.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a Security Council meeting on the situation in North Korea at the United Nations, New York City, April 28, 2017

    Commentary

    How China Could Truly Rein in North Korea

    China has key pressure points at its disposal to help deter North Korea from nuclear activities. It could cut off oil supplies or limit other trade, or crack down on illicit finance networks as many of the banks laundering money for the regime are in China. It could also stop shielding Pyongyang at the UN.

    Jun 20, 2017

  • A row of flags from various countries

    Commentary

    America's Biggest Edge: The International Order

    Evidence shows that many countries consider themselves part of an emerging global community. This represents America's most potent competitive advantage. U.S. strategy is stronger when it works to reflect and build such a community.

    Jun 14, 2017

  • Multimedia

    China and North Korea

    Overview of testimony presented by Andrew Scobell before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission on June 8, 2017.

    Jun 8, 2017

  • A man sits between binoculars that he offers to tourists to watch the North Korean side of the Yalu River in Dandong, China, April 1, 2017

    Testimony

    A Close Look at China's Relationship with North Korea

    North Korea has been a near-constant headache for China since the early 1990s. In light of Pyongyang's recent provocations, what are Beijing's interests on the Korean Peninsula? And what is the potential for U.S.-China cooperation on the issue?

    Jun 8, 2017

  • War veterans and commanding officers in a military parade celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the truce of the Korean War, in Pyongyang, August 3, 2013

    Commentary

    End the Korean War, Finally

    The North Koreans want a declaration of peace as reassurance that they won't be attacked and as recognition that their country is a sovereign state and legitimate power. A peace agreement is most likely a necessary element to any resolution of the North Korean nuclear challenge.

    Jun 8, 2017

  • Coalition Forces commanders and Combined Air Operations Center members attend a Bastille Day ceremony at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Time for Quiet Diplomacy, Not Taking Sides

    Disputes within the Gulf Cooperation Council are inevitable given differing threat perceptions and political interests, but there is no reason for the U.S. to pursue policies that aggravate the differences and risk fueling greater instability. Instead, Washington could assure both sides that it will support any agreement they reach.

    Jun 7, 2017

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the test of a new-type anti-aircraft guided weapon system organized by the Academy of National Defence Science, May 2017

    Commentary

    Is Moon Ready to Reunite Korea? Is Kim Jong Un?

    President Moon Jae-in is focused on South Korean domestic issues and internal unification. But he needs to prepare for unification with North Korea. He will face challenges whether unification is brought on by peaceful coexistence or as the result of sudden change.

    Jun 2, 2017

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    Security Tensions in Northeast Asia

    In this Events @ RAND podcast, RAND's Bruce Bennett, an expert in Northeast Asian military issues, discusses efforts by the U.S., its allies, and China to defuse the current situation and halt North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.

    Jun 1, 2017

  • Georgia's President Georgy Margvelashvili walks after addressing the first session of the newly elected parliament in Kutaisi, Georgia, November 18, 2016.

    Commentary

    Georgia Wants Reassurance That America Will Help Deter Russia

    Georgia is an emerging democracy in a difficult region with mainly authoritarian regimes nearby. To overcome severe challenges from Russian military occupation and economic weakness, it deserves sustained Western support.

    May 25, 2017

  • Supporters of Iran's President Hassan Rouhani celebrate his victory in the election, in Tehran, Iran, May 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Why Trump's Pressures on Iran Won't Benefit America

    The Trump administration has demonstrated a renewed policy of pressure against Iran. In doing so, it risks losing the ability to leverage the greatest potential source of change in Iran: millions of Iranians who want a better country at peace with the world.

    May 25, 2017

  • Ice Camp Sargo in the Arctic Circle was the main stage for ICEX 2016, an exercise designed to research, test, and evaluate operational capabilities in the region

    Commentary

    What Does 'America First' Look Like in the Arctic?

    The shift in U.S. climate policy away from greenhouse gas reduction is significant for the Arctic, which is experiencing global warming at an accelerated rate. And a recent executive order will pave the way for expanded oil and gas drilling. How will these changes shape the Arctic in years to come?

    May 25, 2017

  • Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) shakes hands with U.S President Donald Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, May 16, 2017

    Commentary

    A Turning Point in U.S-Turkish Relations?

    While Turkish President Erdoğan and U.S. President Trump emphasized the positive aspects of bilateral relations after their meeting, there remain points of contention. The stakes at this meeting and its outcome are high for both Turkey and the United States, and could mark a major milestone in the relationship.

    May 21, 2017

  • News Release

    Russia Perceives U.S.-Led International Order as a Threat to Its Security and Interests, but Also Seeks Cooperation

    Russia sees the international order as dominated by the United States and as a threat to its interests. While U.S. and Russian interests overlap and cooperation is feasible in some areas like counterterrorism, others conflict, such as U.S. support for liberal democracy and the expansion of NATO. What are U.S. policy options?

    May 18, 2017

  • The Kremlin appears on top of a map of the Mediterranean region

    Report

    How Does Russia View the International Order?

    Russia sees the U.S.-led international order as a threat to its interests. U.S. and Russian interests overlap in some areas, such as counterterrorism. But they are directly opposed in others. What are America's policy options?

    May 18, 2017

  • People pass a large picture of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the late leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini during a ceremony marking the 37th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, in Tehran, February 11, 2016

    Report

    Iranian Domestic Issues Could Challenge the Nuclear Deal

    The Iran nuclear agreement has proven successful so far, but challenges from within Iran may emerge. The deal could be affected by factional divisions in Iran, the death of the supreme leader, or heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran.

    May 10, 2017