International Affairs

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RAND's international affairs research comprises a range of cross-cutting issues, including global economies and trade, space and maritime security, diplomacy, global health and education, nation building, and regional security and stability. RAND also analyzes the policies and effectiveness of international organizations such as the UN, NATO, European Union, and ASEAN.

  • A world map puzzle with a piece on top, photo by Yuriy Panyukov/Adobe Stock

    Report

    A U.S. Grand Strategy of Restraint

    Jan 21, 2021

    Some U.S. policymakers have expressed interest in a realist grand strategy of restraint. Under this approach, the United States would cooperate more with other powers, reduce its forward military presence, and end or renegotiate some security commitments. What are the policy implications of embarking down this path?

  • Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Ethan Clabaugh stands watch on the amphibious assault ship USS America in Okinawa, Japan, January 16, 2021, photo by MCSN Matthew Cavenaile/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Why Biden's Japan Agenda Matters

    Jan 26, 2021

    Efforts to mend America's political wounds, combating COVID-19, and the continuing deterioration of U.S.-China relations may dominate the Biden agenda. But quick wins with Japan are possible and could be necessary to ensure that the alliance begins on a positive footing so it can tackle difficult challenges in the years ahead.

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  • A worker stands next to the shipment of 600,000 doses COVID-19 vaccines donated by China at the Phnom Penh International Airport, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 7, 2021, photo by Cindy Liu/Reuters

    Commentary

    Equal, Rapid Access to Vaccines Is More Important Than Ever as New COVID-19 Variants Emerge

    Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic and lead to preventable deaths. If some countries don't receive timely access to vaccines, then the virus will continue to spread in some populations, mutate further, and potentially render existing vaccines less effective.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Myanmar Army armored vehicles drive along a street after they seized power in a coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, February 2, 2021, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Myanmar Coup: First Foreign Policy Test for President Biden

    Shortly after dawn on February 1, Myanmar's military staged a coup against the nation's fledgling civilian government. There are no easy solutions, and how the Biden administration responds will be widely seen as a template for other thorny situations in the future.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan: Give Peace a Chance

    The timetable set out in the Afghan peace agreement was always unrealistically ambitious. If the Biden administration postpones the May withdrawal of U.S. troops, then this could provide the two Afghan sides more time to address core issues that must be resolved if any settlement is to stick.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Digital world map, photo by kontekbrothers/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Humility and Limits

    When it spurns global institutions and norms and throws its considerable military weight around, the United States destroys its greatest competitive advantage—the prized role as the hub of a predominant network of global power.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Abstract world map with polygons, photo by imaginima/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Lead from Behind

    Support for a reformed rules-based order may be the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. But the word “reformed” is crucial in that statement. The U.S. approach to strengthening global order will have to change in ways that will sit uneasily with the expectations and habits of the world's leading power.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, July 30, 2020, photo by Frank Michaux/NASA

    Commentary

    Navigating Norms for the New Space Era

    To make better progress on global norms for responsible behavior in space, the U.S. defense and intelligence communities might first consider reaching a consensus among themselves on what these norms should be. Until they reconcile their differences the United States will be less likely be in a position to play a leadership role.

    Feb 8, 2021

  • U.S. Navy sailors pull a line affixed to a combat rubber raiding craft with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment soldiers in the Pacific Ocean, February 6, 2020, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Natalie M. Byers/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    The United States and Japan Should Prepare for War With China

    The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the East China Sea region. Those benefits come through a shared commitment to provide robust responses from peacetime to contingencies. But is the alliance equipped, postured, and authorized to do what will need to be done in a conflict?

    Feb 5, 2021

  • An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter takes off from the flight deck of the USS Mustin in the Taiwan Strait, August 18, 2020, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody Beam/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Biden Doubles Down on Trump's Taiwan Policy, but Will It Last?

    It's an open secret that Taiwan welcomed the Trump administration's policy to significantly strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations, and it was jittery about the transition to the Biden administration. Early indications, however, are that the Biden team appears poised to opt for a stronger relationship with Taiwan as set forth under the Trump administration.

    Feb 5, 2021

  • Two Air Force F-22 Raptors fly over Syria, February 2, 2018, while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, photo by Staff Sgt. Colton Elliott/Air National Guard

    Report

    Airpower Was Indispensable to Defeating ISIS

    Some argue that airpower could have been applied more vigorously in Operation Inherent Resolve to have more quickly defeated ISIS. Airpower was essential, but ground forces led by Iraqi and Syrian partners were needed to destroy the Islamic State as a territorial entity.

    Feb 5, 2021

  • Will U.S.-Iran Relations Improve?

    Multimedia

    Under the Biden Administration: Will U.S.-Iran Relations Improve?

    RAND senior international/defense policy researcher Heather Williams discusses the current landscape for improving the strained relationship between the United States and Iran.

    Feb 4, 2021

  • National guard block the street during a protest against the detention of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia, January 31, 2021, photo by Sergei Mikhailichenko/SOPA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Alexei Navalny Has Become a Profile in Courage. This Puts the Kremlin in a Quandary

    Prolonging Alexei Navalny's imprisonment, attempting to murder him—or actually succeeding—would only galvanize his supporters. And releasing him could be viewed as a victory for the opposition, making the Kremlin look weak.

    Feb 2, 2021

  • An Indian fighter plane flies over a mountain range in Leh, in the Ladakh region, India, September 15, 2020, photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

    Commentary

    Stabilizing China-India Relations in 2021: Is This Possible?

    China-India relations seem to be at their lowest point in decades. The Ladakh confrontation is fraught with the risk of escalation. But both countries have much to gain from a compromise. Leadership on both sides could help by focusing on the long-term gains in a spirit of give-and-take.

    Feb 2, 2021

  • A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago January 17, 2013, photo by Quang Le/Reuters

    Commentary

    How U.S.-Vietnam Ties Might Go Off the Rails

    Although there are valid reasons to question the trajectory of U.S.-Vietnam relations in the coming years, the overwhelming momentum is positive and is likely to stay that way. Any frictions that arise will probably be handled diplomatically to avoid greater damage to the relationship. But of course, nothing is guaranteed.

    Feb 1, 2021

  • Blog

    Prescription Drug Prices, Transgender Troops, Space Diplomacy: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on America's high prescription drug prices, allowing transgender troops in the military, food insecurity in Black neighborhoods, and more.

    Jan 29, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    The Demand for Responsiveness in Past U.S. Military Operations

    The Department of Defense argues that it must maintain a high level of readiness across the joint force to remain highly responsive. The author conducts a historical analysis to identify the demand for responsiveness in past U.S. military operations.

    Jan 28, 2021

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani wait prior to signing the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020, photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

    Commentary

    Implementing Arab Gulf Reconciliation

    As the Arab Gulf states prepare to engage with a new U.S. administration, their recent reconciliation announcement offers an opportunity to advance their interests as well as mutual interests with the United States. But the Gulf states' intent to end their feud will very likely not be sufficient unless the agreement is deepened through confidence-building measures and expanded by reaching a parallel understanding with Turkey.

    Jan 27, 2021

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Future Threats and Some Considerations for the Next U.S. National Defense Strategy

    In this article, the authors offer a U.S. perspective on the evolution of threats from the recent past, and posit several considerations for the next National Defense Strategy.

    Jan 26, 2021

  • Allied troops cross Neman River during NATO exercise Saber Strike in Kulautuva, Lithuania, June 13, 2018, photo by Andrius Sytas/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Great Wall

    China built a wall to protect against foreign invaders, but Russia is erecting a barrier that could weaken its position. Moscow's pressure on neighbors has spurred NATO to bolster its presence in Russia's immediate vicinity.

    Jan 25, 2021

  • European Council President Charles Michel, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Emmanuel Macron attend the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 15, 2020, photo by Yves Herman/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Welcoming a Stronger European Defense

    Washington has bristled at the notion of a Europe capable of strategic autonomy in the past. But the Biden administration might do better to take seriously the prospect of Europe as a (potentially great) power, and welcome it.

    Jan 22, 2021