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 Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, September 4, 2016, photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters

    Commentary

    Taking Stock of the U.S. Rebalance and the Contest for Influence in Asia

    Jan 19, 2017

    Since 2011, the U.S. has carried out measures designed to bolster its influence in Asia, a region that is projected to play a central role in driving global economic growth. Despite steady progress, with increased diplomatic outreach to China and its neighbors, doubts about the U.S. pivot to Asia have persisted.

  • A globe and marbles balancing, illustration by Dori Walker/RAND Corporation

    Report

    U.S. Interests Abroad Face Steep Challenges

    Oct 19, 2016

    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.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference in Moscow, Russia, 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

  • Richard Solomon speaking to the RAND Board of Trustees, November 2014

    Announcement

    Richard H. Solomon, RAND Policy Analyst and Former Diplomat, Dies at 79

    Richard H. Solomon, a senior fellow at RAND, a China scholar, and a seasoned diplomat who helped direct U.S. policy toward East Asia under President George H.W. Bush, has died.

    Mar 14, 2017

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (right) greets Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, February 28, 2017

    Commentary

    What Are the Chances of the U.S. and China Going to War?

    War between the United States and China seems far-fetched. But complacency would be a mistake. Washington and Beijing should keep a direct channel open between their defense ministers to defuse any potential crises or escalation.

    Mar 14, 2017

  • Philippine Coast Guard's Special Operations Group secures mock pirates during a rescue drill exercise with Japan's Coast Guard off Manila Bay, Philippines, July 13, 2016

    Commentary

    The Era of Coast Guards in the Asia-Pacific Is Upon Us

    Coast guards, not navies, are the new asset of choice in East and Southeast Asia to assert sovereignty over disputed waters. China has been expanding its coast guard fleet and many states, like Vietnam and the Philippines, lack the funds to match it.

    Mar 8, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Moscow, Russia February 23, 2017

    Commentary

    How to Partner With Putin

    Improving relations with Russia is a worthy goal. President Donald Trump could seek to partner with Moscow on some issues, like North Korea, while keeping up heat on others, such as aggression in Ukraine.

    Mar 4, 2017

  • China's President Xi Jinping and Vietnam's Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong shake hands at the Central Communist Party Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, November 5, 2015

    Commentary

    China Tolerating Vietnam's South China Sea Activities, for Now

    China has probably tolerated Vietnam's South China Sea construction activities because it feels confident in its military position in the region. Chinese leaders might change their stance if they believe Vietnam is trying to enlist the support of the U.S. or other partners to settle bilateral disputes.

    Mar 3, 2017

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, February 3, 2017

    Commentary

    U.S.-Japan Defense Relations Under Trump

    U.S.–Japan relations appear to be stabilizing after a successful visit by Defense Secretary James Mattis to Tokyo that reaffirmed the alliance, followed by an equally successful visit by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the U.S. Next, will the Trump administration articulate goals for the region?

    Mar 3, 2017

  • A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria, July 14, 2015

    Commentary

    Sticking with the Complicated U.S.-Iran Relationship

    The United States and Iran differ on many issues, but they signed what has so far been a successful nuclear agreement and both seek to defeat the Islamic State. The U.S. would have more to gain by sticking with the relationship than by pursuing a policy of “regime change.”

    Mar 2, 2017

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2ndR) at the start of a meeting at the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany, February 16, 2017

    Commentary

    U.S. Should Test Russia on Islamic State

    The United States should consider accepting Russia's offer to help on ISIS, especially if the Trump administration is considering sending more troops or establishing safe zones in Syria.

    Feb 28, 2017

  • U.S. Marines were among 4,000 soldiers from 11 NATO countries who participated in Exercise Iron Sword 16 in Lithuania

    Commentary

    America's NATO Partners Should Engage Trump in Brussels

    At May's NATO summit in Brussels, President Trump will be looking for a symbolic victory rather than a confrontation with 27 other national leaders. Therefore, Europe needs to create a positive outcome for him in advance.

    Feb 27, 2017

  • Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen waves during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2016

    Commentary

    Why China Should Feel Good About Taiwan

    Chinese leaders should seek to engage in good-faith discussions with Taiwanese counterparts. Beijing should also recognize that Tsai's tentativeness about the new U.S. administration could change if cross-Strait military tensions escalate.

    Feb 22, 2017

  • China's President Xi Jinping watches during a gift handover ceremony at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2017

    Commentary

    China's Opportunity—and Ours

    A pivotal moment could be nearing for China's global role and its relationship with the United States. And America may be able to seize a historic opportunity to test Beijing's willingness to act as the co-sponsor of a stable world order.

    Feb 19, 2017

  • Report

    Improving Implementation of the Department of Defense Leahy Law

    The Leahy laws prohibit U.S. assistance to foreign security forces that have committed gross violations of human rights. This report analyzes the vetting process that helps the Department of Defense implement these laws and recommends improvements.

    Feb 17, 2017

  • Taiwanese Coast Guard patrol ship, Kaohsiung (CG 129), during a rescue drill near the coast of Itu Aba in the South China Sea, November 29, 2016

    Commentary

    History and Current Developments Regarding Taiwan's Coast Guard

    As Asia-Pacific countries develop policies to regulate maritime zones of jurisdiction, the importance of coast guards as instruments of state policy has been growing. Taiwan's Coast Guard is an increasingly effective force facilitating the protection and regulation of Taiwanese maritime rights and interests in the East and South China Sea.

    Feb 15, 2017

  • Report

    The Concert of Europe and Great-Power Governance Today: What Can the Order of 19th-Century Europe Teach Policymakers About International Order in the 21st Century?

    This Perspective describes the key principles of the Concert of Europe, analyzes its effects, and draws implications for future U.S. policy toward the international order.

    Feb 13, 2017

  • People fleeing violence in ISIS-controlled al-Bab, Syria arrive in the town's rebel-held outskirts, February 3, 2017

    Report

    Finding a Way Forward in Syria

    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.

    Feb 8, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a news conference following the talks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest, Hungary, February 2, 2017

    Commentary

    Dealing with a Revanchist Russia

    The deployment of additional U.S. forces and other NATO units to Poland, Norway, the Baltics, and other states symbolically reinforces the West's commitment to the alliance. But countering Russia's influence will require a fundamental reformulation of EU and U.S. political strategy.

    Feb 8, 2017