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.

  • Military parade in Pyongyang, October 2015, photo by Uwe Brodrecht/CC BY SA 2.0

    Essay

    Understanding North Korea

    Aug 18, 2017

    How should the U.S. respond to North Korea's provocative behavior? Even the best military options could be cataclysmically bad, but there are nonmilitary options to convince Kim Jong Un that the costs of his provocations outweigh any benefits.

  • Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, photo by luxiangjian4711/Getty Images

    Report

    Measuring the Health of the International Order

    Sep 5, 2017

    The liberal international order that has been in place since 1945 is relatively stable but is threatened by geopolitical and domestic socioeconomic trends that call into question the order's assumptions. U.S. support and engagement over the coming decade will be essential.

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  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Multimedia

    Tipping Points in the Arctic

    In this Events @ RAND podcast, a panel of experts discuss several potential economic, environmental, and political "game changers" that could affect strategic decisions in the Arctic region.

    Mar 2, 2017

  • The sun sets on Ice Camp Sargo during Ice Exercise 2016 at the Arctic Circle, March 8, 2016

    Report

    How to Maintain Arctic Cooperation with Russia

    Despite tensions between Russia and the West, Arctic cooperation has remained intact. But America should prepare for changes that may alter Moscow's incentives. These include rising interest in Arctic resources and greater maritime access due to climate 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

  • Journal Article

    Evaluating a Complex Research Capacity-Building Intervention: Reflections on an Evaluation of the African Institutions Initiative

    This article shares learning from the experience of conducting a participatory, real-time, ‘theory driven’ evaluation of the African Institutions Initiative, a Wellcome Trust-funded programme that aimed to build sustainable health research capacity in Africa at institutional and network levels, across seven research consortia.

    Feb 13, 2017

  • New shoe and old shoe side by side.

    Commentary

    Trends in Inequality and the World's Eight Richest Men

    While Oxfam reports have done a good job of bringing attention to the problem of inequality, they may give the false impression that global inequality has been rising instead of falling. Global inequality has actually been on the decline while inequality within the developed world is increasing.

    Feb 10, 2017

  • Displaced people who fled ISIS arrive at a military checkpoint before being transported to camps in eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 25, 2017

    Commentary

    Stabilizing Mosul After the Battle Against ISIS

    U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have retaken the east bank of Mosul and are planning to take the west soon. The military operations that oust ISIS are crucial to the city's liberation but failing to get the civilian response right risks a widening civil war.

    Feb 9, 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

  • 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

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis (left) meets with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn in Seoul, February 2, 2017

    Commentary

    Mattis' Mission in Asia

    U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis made his first overseas trip this week, visiting Japan and South Korea. He reassured them that U.S. alliances in East Asia will remain strong, while also clarifying Washington's expectations.

    Feb 6, 2017

  • Project

    Developing a Protocol for the Evaluation of ECDC Disease Programmes

    The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is planning a future evaluation of its seven ECDC Disease Programmes and has asked RAND Europe to establish a common protocol for the evaluation.

    Feb 1, 2017