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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.

  • Illustration of a world map, photos by Kanok-orn/Adobe Stock and j-mel/Adobe Stock

    Report

    Competing for the International System

    The United States should view emerging strategic rivalries with China and Russia in systemic terms. That means maintaining predominant influence over the international system and also taking actions designed to shape system outcomes rather than to achieve case-specific wins.

    Nov 10, 2022

  • Excavators are seen at a nickel ore mining area at Kolonedalle village near Morowali, Indonesia's Sulawesi island, January 14, 2014, photo by Yusuf Ahmad/Reuters

    Report

    China's Role in the Global Development of Critical Resources

    China's extensive foreign investments in energy infrastructure and critical minerals have raised concerns. Case studies in coal power, electricity transmission, and seabed mining examine China's behaviors and suggest ways to build capacity among host nations to minimize the potential effects of an overreliance on China.

    Nov 7, 2022

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  • A Japan Ground Self Defense Force soldier (left) and a U.S. Army soldier (right) salute the Japanese and U.S. flags during the opening ceremony of Rising Thunder 2021 at Yakima Training Center, Washington, December 1, 2021, photo by Spc. Dean Johnson/U.S. Army

    Report

    Economic Benefits of U.S. Alliances and Military Engagement

    Decisions about alliances and forward military presence should be based on a range of factors beyond potential economic benefits. But there is evidence that military engagement has historically helped the U.S. economy by promoting international commerce.

    Sep 1, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks regarding the East Jerusalem Hospital Network at Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem, July 15, 2022, photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

    Commentary

    Middle East Peace: The Biden Administration's Approach

    The primary goal of President Biden's July trip to the Middle East was clearly to reassert U.S. leadership with traditional allies in the Arab world. There are a few points worth highlighting from the Israel/Palestine portion that may be important to keep an eye on.

    Aug 31, 2022

  • Signing of Treaty on Outer Space in May, 1964, photo by United Nations/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    Commentary

    Reduce Friction in Space by Amending the 1967 Outer Space Treaty

    Space has the potential to be a domain in which current great-power competitions and frictions can be mediated. The international community might consider updating the existing space legal regime to ensure it meets current political, economic, social, and technical challenges.

    Aug 26, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Diversity in the Military, Telemedicine Abortion, China and Taiwan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the benefits of increasing and maintaining diversity in the armed forces, the challenges of telemedicine abortion, whether Indo-Pacific countries are backing China or Taiwan, and more.

    Aug 26, 2022

  • U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, August 3, 2022, photo courtesy of Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Indo-Pacific Mostly Backs 'One China,' but Taiwan Gets Some Love, Too

    Almost the entire Indo-Pacific region backs China over Taiwan. But U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August trip to Taiwan made it clear that key U.S. allies strongly support Taiwan's cause, particularly in the face of a potential war over the island. This suggests that Beijing's assertive behavior is steadily alienating nations that otherwise may have minded their own business.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Russian service members stand guard at the Nagurskoye military base in Alexandra Land on the Arctic islands of Franz Josef Land, Russia, March 29, 2017, photo by Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

    Commentary

    How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine May Impact the Arctic

    The United States and its Arctic partners suspended cooperation with Russia at the Arctic Council in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The prospect of returning to the council's business as usual seems very far away.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Enrique Tarrio and the Proud Boys demonstrate near Freedom Plaza during the Million Maga March protest regarding election results, in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2020, photo by MediaPunch Inc/Alamy

    Research Brief

    A U.S. National Strategy Is Needed to Counter Violent Extremism

    Users in the United States are overwhelmingly responsible for racially and ethnically motivated violent extremism (REMVE) discourse online. Strategies that focus on organizations or individuals likely will not work to counter REMVE because the movement is diffuse and leaderless.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Homelessness in L.A., Russia's Military Woes, Educator Morale: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on breaking the cycle of incarceration and homelessness, Russia’s ongoing military struggles, NATO expansion, and more.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • Russian service members ride an armoured vehicle in the Russian-held part of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, July 23, 2022, photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Understanding Russia's Motivations, and Using Them

    The concept of ontological security could help explain Putin's war on Ukraine and his regime's reasoning. It's about maintaining a continuous sense of self, and in this case, of state identity. Putin may have deemed the invasion necessary to maintain a sense of continuity and order, where order is Russia's continued adversarial relationship with the West.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • Workers make parts for pneumatic guns at one of the eight manufacturers licensed by the Ministry of Public Security in Qingliu county, Fujian province, China, May 26, 2022, photo by Hu Guolin/FeatureChina via AP Images, Workers make parts for pneumatic guns at one of the eight manufa

    Tool

    Where Has China Sent Weapons and Security Contractors?

    China exported weapons to 38 countries from 2018 to 2021. It also exported private security contractors to protect and secure its interests in other countries, such as mining facilities and ports. A map of the exports shows China's expansive influence across Asia and Africa and into Latin America.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • A Ukrainian army officer looks at a destroyed SS-24 missile silo near the town of Pervomaisk, Ukraine, October 30, 2001, photo by Gleb Garanich CVI/CLH//Reuters

    Commentary

    How Russia's Nuclear Double Cross of Ukraine Teaches Dangerous Lessons

    Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the West's support for Kyiv has been tempered by an ace up Vladimir Putin's sleeve: the potential use of nuclear weapons. But other countries are taking notice, which could imperil world stability even further.

    Aug 16, 2022

  • A suspected missile is fired, in this image released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 22, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Multimedia

    North Korean Sanctions Evasion

    The United Nations imposed increasingly restrictive sanctions on North Korea after each of the six nuclear weapons tests that it conducted between 2009 and 2016. In this film, experts discuss the threats posed by North Korean proliferation and the importance of enforcing sanctions.

    Aug 15, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter and Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. Mikko Hautala, signs documents endorsing Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO, at the White House, in Washington, D.C., August 9, 2022, photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

    Commentary

    Finnish and Swedish NATO Membership: Toward a Larger, Stronger, Smarter Alliance

    Finland and Sweden are poised to become full NATO members in the near future. The Nordic pair's entry into NATO means that alliance leaders and planners confront new challenges, and just as many opportunities.

    Aug 12, 2022

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    Blog

    Politicized Topics in School, the War in Ukraine, Post-Quantum Cryptography: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the intrusion of politicized topics in America's schools, where the war in Ukraine may be headed, post-quantum cryptography, and more.

    Aug 12, 2022

  • The round table at the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, June 30, 2022, photo by Yves Herman/Reuters

    Commentary

    A New Era? NATO's Prioritisation of Human Security in an Insecure World

    Human security and NATO's role and responsibility to protect civilians during conflict saw new prioritization in the alliance's 2022 Strategic Concept. While much progress has been made, more could be done to ensure the alliance can deliver on these commitments.

    Aug 10, 2022

  • China's PLA released footage on August 8, 2022, showing training exercises conducted by the Navy's 2nd Type 075 amphibious assault ship, the Guangxi, photo by EyePress via Reuters

    Report

    Hypothetical Scenarios of U.S.-China Conflict

    The prospect of China overtaking the United States to attain global primacy appears unlikely, but it is not impossible. An analysis of two conflict scenarios—one low-intensity and one high-intensity—illuminates how a U.S.-China war of power transition might unfold.

    Aug 10, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Our New CEO, Algorithmic Bias, Equity in the Workplace: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on what RAND’s new president and CEO envisions for the future, addressing bias in health care algorithms, creating equitable change in the workplace, and more.

    Aug 5, 2022

  • The International Space Station, November 25, 2009, photo by NASA

    Commentary

    Russia's Withdrawal from the ISS: Another Sign of Its Space Decline?

    Russia's threatened exit from the International Space Station could simply be more bluster from Moscow at a time of heightened tension between Russia and the West over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But it also appears to be another signal that Russia's profile in space is in decline, a trend that is likely to continue and that the United States could be preparing for now.

    Aug 4, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau shake hands during a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, January 6, 2020, photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/Reuters

    Testimony

    China's Gambit in the Pacific

    The geostrategic dynamics between China, the Pacific Island countries, and the United States and its allies and partners have evolved over the years. What are China's strategic goals for the region? And how could the United States improve its profile as China continues to try to enhance its own?

    Aug 3, 2022