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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.

  • Red Square in Moscow, Russia, photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Ways the United States Could Overextend and Unbalance Russia

    Apr 24, 2019

    Despite its vulnerabilities and anxieties, Russia remains a formidable opponent in a few key domains. What non-violent, cost-imposing measures could the United States pursue to stress Russia's economy, its military, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad?

  • U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Trump Reset U.S.–North Korea Relations

    Jul 2, 2019

    The meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the DMZ may lead to follow-on talks. But the success of future negotiations depends on Kim actually taking action to denuclearize.

Explore International Affairs

  • Report

    Opportunities for European collaboration in armoured vehicles

    RAND Europe examined the scope for collaboration between European states in armoured vehicles (tracked, wheeled and protected transport vehicles) throughout their life-cycle, in support of the European Defence Agency (EDA).

    Jan 23, 2019

  • Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence hold a bilateral meeting in Singapore, November 14, 2018

    Commentary

    Vietnam's Defense Policy of 'No' Quietly Saves Room for 'Yes'

    U.S.-China tensions are rising in the South China Sea. Washington should take solace in the fact that Vietnam's “Three Nos” policy actually offers significant breathing room for defense cooperation.

    Jan 21, 2019

  • Fred Pardee attending a Pardee RAND Graduate School Board of Governors meeting on March 28, 2014

    Content

    Fred Pardee: Making a Difference

    Fred Pardee grew up in the shadow of World War II and has spent his life supporting the cause of human dignity and development around the world. He has given more than $22 million over his lifetime to RAND and the Pardee RAND Graduate School to support research on some of the world's most pressing problems.

    Jan 18, 2019

  • Supporters of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gesture as they hold Hezbollah flags in Marjayoun, Lebanon, May 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Helping Lebanon Succeed Is More Than About Countering Iran

    As tensions increase on the Israeli-Lebanese border the possibility is growing that a confrontation with Iran may move from Syria to Lebanon. For the United States, turning its back on this small but strategically critical country and conflating U.S. interests in Lebanon solely with countering Iran could be short-sighted, and a missed opportunity at a time when the region has few.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • A U.S. flag is seen at a post in Deh Bala district, Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, after U.S. and Afghan forces cleared Islamic State fighters from the area, July 7, 2018

    Report

    Likely Effects of a Precipitous U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

    Winning may not be an option in Afghanistan, but an early departure of U.S. forces without a peace settlement will mean choosing to lose. The result will be the weakening of deterrence and the value of American reassurance elsewhere, an increased terrorist threat, and the possibility of having to return there under worse conditions.

    Jan 16, 2019

  • Accountability in Cyberspace: The Problem of Attribution

    Multimedia

    How to Achieve Accountability in Cyberspace

    Identifying the responsible party behind malicious cyber incidents is necessary for holding bad actors accountable. But there are many challenges that accompany cyber attribution. Creating an independent, global organization that investigates and publicly assigns blame for major hacks could help.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • News Release

    Middle Eastern Communities Can Resist Sectarianism

    Middle Eastern communities are generally resilient to the worst sectarian impulses and even communities that experience sectarian strife can recover from it. Indeed, at least at the local level, communities can resist the slide toward sectarianism and promote resilience and cross-sectarian cooperation.

    Jan 14, 2019

  • Beirut Madinati candidates and delegates cheer

    Research Brief

    Middle Eastern Communities Can Resist Sectarianism

    Sectarian violence in the Middle East has been destructive, but it is still the exception rather than the norm. Communities are generally resilient to the worst sectarian impulses. Lessons from Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, and Iraq show that there are a range of actions that can curb sectarianism.

    Jan 13, 2019

  • Beirut Madinati candidates and activists after announcing their list of candidates for the municipality elections in Beirut, Lebanon, April 22, 2016

    Report

    Countering Sectarianism in the Middle East

    Scholars and policymakers have sought to understand what drives sectarianism in the Middle East and its relationship to multiple conflicts. Far less attention has been focused on how communities inoculate themselves from sectarianism or recover from it.

    Jan 13, 2019

  • Syrian Democratic Forces and U.S. troops are seen during a patrol near Turkish border in Hasakah, Syria, November 4, 2018

    Commentary

    America's Absence Could Be Syria's New Nightmare

    President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria reverses his administration's recent policy of retaining them as long as Iranian troops stay. U.S. withdrawal would give Bashar al-Assad, Iran, and Russia freer rein to subdue opposition forces. And Assad could feel emboldened to act with greater impunity and brutality.

    Jan 10, 2019

  • Chessboard map with U.S. and China flag chess pieces

    Commentary

    Questioning the Presumption of a U.S.-China Power Transition

    The United States occupies the central role in a world order that, while under growing duress, remains a central organizing framework in world affairs. There are many trajectories along which U.S.-China relations might evolve if China aims to displace the United States for global pre-eminence.

    Jan 9, 2019

  • A soldier stands guard near a poster of Syria's President Bashar al Assad and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Rastan, Syria, June 6, 2018

    Commentary

    Confusion Over the U.S. Withdrawal from Syria

    Washington's strategy in Syria has been to impose costs on the Syrian government by diplomatic ostracism and economic sanctions. This punitive approach is morally satisfying and politically expedient, but as a practical matter it just helps perpetuate the conflict and sustain Assad's dependency on Iran.

    Jan 9, 2019

  • Popular Mobilisation Forces fighters ride in a tank near the Iraqi-Syrian border in al-Qaim, Iraq, November 26, 2018

    Commentary

    Withdrawing from Syria Leaves a Vacuum That Iran Will Fill

    President Trump's decision to withdraw American troops from Syria may be unintentionally signaling that the United States is unwilling to compete in critical geopolitical hotspots. Such a message could embolden powerful states—including Iran—to expand their presence.

    Jan 8, 2019

  • U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2018

    Commentary

    The End of the End of History?

    The Trump administration has taken steps that represent a significant retreat from the norm-based, world order that the United States has championed since 1945. If this shift continues, what might be the impact?

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Crossing Interagency Lines: Enhancing Navy-Coast Guard Cooperation to Combat Gray Zone Conflicts of East Asia

    Using the region of East Asia as a case study, paper proposes that greater coordination and interoperability between navies and coast guards should be pursued among States in the region as one prescription to address gray zone challenges.

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Two people shaking hands over a table with flags

    Commentary

    Economic Officers for the Future

    Economic officers must be, first of all, accomplished political officers. They should also have all the reporting, public speaking, and representational skills of any political or public diplomacy officer, coupled with a strong understanding of economic issues.

    Jan 7, 2019

  • A Turkish-backed Syrian rebel rides on a truck with a mounted weapon at Manbij countryside, Syria, December 28, 2018

    Commentary

    The United States Can't Rely on Turkey to Defeat ISIS

    Relying on Turkey to shoulder the burden of countering the Islamic State will provide the terrorist group with an opportunity to revive itself at a critical stage in the fight. Turkey's main focus is on the Kurds and Erdogan's opposition. Eradicating the Islamic State is a secondary priority that has often been ignored.

    Jan 2, 2019

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping meets former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Engagement vs. Competition: The China Policy Debate

    There is a consensus that the U.S. is engaged in an intensifying strategic competition with China. It's less clear what relationship the U.S. should seek and can plausibly achieve with its competitor. An inability to classify China along the ally-to-adversary continuum limits, if not precludes, America's ability to formulate a coherent strategy.

    Dec 31, 2018

  • Journal Article

    Armed Conflict and Child Mortality in Africa: A Geospatial Analysis

    Armed conflict substantially increases infant mortality in Africa, on a scale equivalent to and several times greater than estimates of deaths from conflict.

    Dec 27, 2018

  • U.S. Soldiers surveil the area during a combined joint patrol in Manbij, Syria, November 1, 2018

    Commentary

    Trump's Syria Withdrawal: Right Idea, Wrong Way, Wrong Time

    President Trump's desire to withdraw from Syria is consistent with his and his predecessor's national strategies, but the manner in which the decision has been taken is highly counterproductive. Unless modified it could have disastrous consequences, says James Dobbins.

    Dec 26, 2018