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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  • Metal tooth wheel mechanism concept of inequality and equality

    Commentary

    Curbing Globalization Won't Halt the Rise of Inequality

    Globalization may be one of many factors driving inequality. But ending trade agreements and throwing up trade barriers is unlikely to stop this trend.

    Dec 14, 2016

  • Japan's Self Defence Force holds an opening ceremony of a new military base on the island of Yonaguni in the Okinawa prefecture, March 28, 2016

    Commentary

    The Risks of an Accelerating Rivalry Between China and Japan

    China and Japan have a long history of antagonism but their competition for influence in Asia has recently expanded in the economic, diplomatic, and security domains. The U.S., although a staunch ally of Japan, has served as a mediator. Weakening the U.S. role could aggravate Sino-Japanese tensions to a destabilizing degree.

    Dec 12, 2016

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army march in a parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, in Beijing, September 3, 2015

    Report

    Understanding China's Strategy

    Beijing's perceptions and assessments aren't static. They evolve as China's standing in the world increases and its interests grow. U.S. leaders should focus on understanding and managing competition with China on a global scale.

    Dec 6, 2016

  • News Release

    China Invests Warily in Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to become more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 1, 2016

    Commentary

    Can Trump Make a Deal with Putin?

    If executed properly, President-elect Trump's diplomacy could help reverse a destabilizing downward spiral in U.S.-Russian relations and create a vision of what normal relations might entail.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and UAE's deputy commander-in-chief of the armed forces, meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, December 14, 2015

    Report

    China Invests Warily in the Middle East

    China endeavors to protect its expanding interests in the Middle East by not taking sides in conflicts and controversies. The United States should encourage China to get more involved in efforts to improve regional stability while reassuring partners of its own commitment to the region.

    Dec 5, 2016

  • Afghan National Army soldiers inspect passengers at a checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan, June 29, 2015, after Islamic State fighters had seized territory from rival Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan for the first time

    Commentary

    The Islamic State-Taliban Rivalry in Afghanistan

    The weakening of the Islamic State is a positive step. But Taliban successes against the group have strengthened the Taliban's power, bolstered its reputation, and complicated U.S. and Afghan government efforts to wind down the Afghan war.

    Nov 28, 2016

  • The blast furnaces at the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill remain standing in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 22, 2016

    Commentary

    America's Shifting Labor Market in a Technology-Driven World

    Making America competitive in a transitioning market will require examining future labor market requirements. Workforce development programs that target building labor capacity for a new economy will be essential.

    Nov 25, 2016

  • Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan meet to sign a bilateral agreement on construction of the TurkStream undersea gas pipeline in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016

    Commentary

    The Turkish-Russian Rapprochement: How Real? How Durable?

    The recent strengthening of ties between Turkey and Russia may represent more of an economic marriage of convenience than a deeply rooted political alliance. On a number of important issues, particularly the Syrian conflict, the two nations have very different interests and priorities.

    Nov 21, 2016

  • Donald Trump arrives at his election night rally at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan, November 9, 2016

    Commentary

    Can Trump Really Do Deals with Putin?

    Russia is a declining economic power whose foreign policy has led to isolation and criticism. But Putin may have an inflated sense of Russia's importance and expect one-sided U.S. concessions. If so, diplomacy could run into headwinds early in the Trump administration.

    Nov 21, 2016

  • Two U.S. Air Force pilots use night vision goggles during an exercise above Yokota Air Base, Japan, August 24, 2015

    Report

    Political Challenges to the U.S. Overseas Military Presence

    The U.S. military depends on access to overseas bases to project power around the world. Political challenges to access have been common, but the threat has often been overstated.

    Nov 21, 2016

  • News Release

    An Independent Kurdistan Would Impact Its Neighbors

    If the Kurdish region of northern Iraq were to become an independent nation the move would create important political and economic problems for the neighboring nations of Turkey and Iran, as well as for the Iraqi central government.

    Nov 14, 2016

  • A worker reads a freshly printed newspaper with the headline reading "We will tremble" at a printer of the local daily Norte in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, November 9, 2016.

    Commentary

    Is the U.S. Abandoning the World Order It Created?

    In the 20th century the United States created and expanded a world order that has provided security and prosperity—and it has borne much of the cost for sustaining it. Can that liberal global order be updated rather than jettisoned?

    Nov 14, 2016

  • Antoine van Agtmael, Lawrence Ingrassia, and Randal Quarles at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016

    Blog

    Who Wins Globalization?

    While more needs to be done for those who once worked in industries such as furniture manufacturing, where essentially all activity has moved to lower-cost nations, the U.S. is starting to see an increase in manufacturing activity because of new types of technological advances.

    Nov 14, 2016

  • Kurdish Peshmerga troops are deployed in the area near the northern Iraqi border with Syria, August 6, 2012

    Report

    How an Independent Kurdistan Might Impact Its Neighbors

    The Kurds make up the fourth-largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but they have never formed a permanent nation state. If the Kurdish region of northern Iraq were to declare its independence, the move would create political and economic problems for Turkey, Iran, and the Iraqi central government.

    Nov 14, 2016

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken at RAND's Politics Aside event in Santa Monica, November 12, 2016

    Blog

    Pulling Up the Drawbridge 'Is Fundamentally Flawed'

    Turning inward in response to rapid global change overstates the costs of doing so and downplays the benefits of facing outward.

    Nov 13, 2016

  • Would-be emigrants launch a makeshift boat into the Straits of Florida towards the U.S., on the last day of the 1994 Cuban Exodus in Havana, September 13, 1994.

    Commentary

    A Changing Cuba May Create Risks for Maritime Border Security

    A changing Cuba may contribute to less secure maritime borders for the United States. The U.S. should plan accordingly to stop mass movements of both drugs and people.

    Nov 5, 2016

  • Delegates protest the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 25, 2016

    Commentary

    If Not Free Trade, Then What?

    It may not be unrealistic to hope that the next U.S. president could define and implement a concept of fair trade that is not antitrade.

    Nov 4, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (right) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during an arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington, September 25, 2015

    Commentary

    China's Actions Are Causing U.S. 'Militarization' of the Pacific

    Beijing's aggression in the Asia-Pacific is threatening key U.S. allies, causing America to respond. Any change in U.S. policy must be based on changes in Chinese behavior.

    Nov 3, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (left) meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013

    Commentary

    Righting Relations With Russia

    Russia's current anti-Western stridency coincides with rising internal repression. That may limit what the next U.S. president can do to improve relations.

    Oct 31, 2016