International Diplomacy

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Diplomacy, the practice of international relations, is an area in which RAND has significant research experience. Among RAND's many experts are former ambassadors whose research and commentary on both long-term efforts and current events shed light on how diplomatic ventures can be integral to national security goals and activities, including traditional military interventions, nuclear arms control, and nation-building efforts.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping at the Mar-a-Lago estate after a bilateral meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

    Commentary

    Rocky Road Ahead Likely for U.S.-China Relations

    Apr 11, 2017

    The first summit with President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping downplayed contentious issues like Taiwan and the South China Sea. But the differences run deep, and frustration is palpable on both sides. Moreover, the competition for international leadership continues.

  • People fleeing violence in ISIS-controlled al-Bab, Syria arrive in the town's rebel-held outskirts, February 3, 2017, photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

    Report

    Finding a Way Forward in Syria

    Feb 8, 2017

    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.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron meet during the G20 leaders summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017

    Commentary

    Europe's Hour Is Here

    Since World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom have played disproportionate roles, enhancing European security. Now continental Europe will have to assume more of the burden in advancing Western values and interests with an unpredictable and at times unruly Russia.

    Sep 16, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko walk to watch the closing stage of the joint war games Zapad-2013 (West-2013) at the Gozhsky firing range in Grodno, September 26, 2013

    Commentary

    Joint Military Exercises Distract from Complex Russia-Belarus Relationship

    Analysts and military leaders have concerns that Russia will use the Zapad 2017 exercise in Belarus as a smokescreen to put personnel and equipment in place, and keep it there. But the deep ties and history of cooperation between the two states make the chances of that happening unlikely.

    Sep 13, 2017

  • A soldier engages a target during a convoy live fire exercise at Novo Selo Training Area, Bulgaria, on July 7, 2017

    Report

    What Are the Trends in Armed Conflicts? What Do They Mean for U.S. Defense Policy?

    Until the wars in Syria and Ukraine, armed conflict in the world had been decreasing for decades. Future projections show continued decline, but the U.S. military has an important role in deterring conflict, underpinning peacekeeping coalitions, and possibly in responding to proxy wars by other powers.

    Sep 12, 2017

  • Report

    A More Peaceful World? Regional Conflict Trends and U.S. Defense Planning

    This report analyzes trends in violent conflict and their implications for defense planning. It presents models estimating levels of conflict to 2040 under different scenarios and suggests early warning indicators of potential increases in conflict.

    Sep 12, 2017

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto before the Emerging Market and Developing Countries meeting during the BRICS Summit, in Xiamen, China, September 5, 2017

    Commentary

    What Were China's Objectives in the Doklam Dispute?

    The biggest Chinese concern in the Himalayas might be with the future of the 82-year-old Dalai Lama. China intends to select his successor. A high-profile scare on the Doklam Plateau may have been intended to send India an implicit message not to repeat its decision to shelter the Dalai Lama in 1959.

    Sep 8, 2017

  • Headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

    Report

    Measuring the Health of the International Order

    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.

    Sep 5, 2017

  • Muslims listen to a Turkish imam during Friday prayers at the Turkish Kuba Camii mosque in Cologne's district of Kalk, Germany, October 14, 2016

    Commentary

    Countering Violent Islamist Extremism: The Value of Words Over War

    It is highly probable that the world will witness more attacks on civilian-centric locations as groups like the Islamic State group try to prove their continued relevance. Governments need a more nuanced strategy aimed at helping communities counter the conditions that contribute to extremist violence.

    Sep 1, 2017

  • Landscape in Bhutan

    Commentary

    Countering Chinese Coercion: The Case of Doklam

    India and China have agreed to end a two-month border confrontation in the Doklam area claimed by both China and Bhutan. The immediate crisis seems to be over, but it offers insights into Chinese coercive strategies and how they may be thwarted.

    Aug 29, 2017

  • Students attend a graduation ceremony at Fudan University in Shanghai, China June 23, 2017.

    Announcement

    $3 Million Gift Establishes Tang Chair in China Policy Studies at RAND

    The RAND Corporation has received a $3 million gift from the Cyrus and Michael Tang Foundation to establish the Tang Chair in China Policy Studies at RAND. The chair will support a senior scholar who will undertake research on the critical factors that will influence China's future, particularly in education and health care.

    Aug 28, 2017

  • World map jigsaw puzzle

    Report

    Alternative Options for U.S. Policy Toward the International Order

    The collection of rules, norms, and institutions that came to be understood as the international order after World War II has come under increasing strain. What alternative visions for the future order could respond to changes in politics? And what role could the United States play in each?

    Aug 28, 2017

  • Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif greets United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. headquarters in New York City, July 17, 2017

    Commentary

    How We Can Keep Iran from Becoming the Next North Korea

    The U.S. brokered an agreement to constrain North Korea's nuclear program 25 years ago but hard-liners abandoned it with vague intentions of coercing the North into something better. They never did, and now a runaway North Korean program poses real danger. This offers a powerful reason to preserve the Iranian nuclear deal.

    Aug 22, 2017

  • Military parade in Pyongyang, October 2015

    Essay

    Understanding North Korea

    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.

    Aug 18, 2017

  • Multimedia

    Tensions Between North Korea and the U.S.

    RAND experts Bruce Bennett, Andrew Scobell, and J.D. Williams host a conference call with news media discussing the rising tensions between North Korea and the United States. Senior Media Relations Officer Khorshied Samad moderates the call.

    Aug 16, 2017

  • Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are driven during a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017

    Commentary

    The North Korea Standoff: Have We Been Here Before?

    How the United States responded to China's nuclear weapons program last century can provide lessons for today's debate about North Korea. For instance, the conclusion that the only option is deterrence is still sound.

    Aug 14, 2017

  • Chinese structures in Subi Reef, a disputed part of the South China Sea, April 21, 2017

    Commentary

    Dealing with Global Hot Spots in Times of Domestic Upheaval

    The United States faces growing dangers of war in three parts of the globe: North Korea, Syria, and the South China Sea. How will it manage any—let alone all—of them, especially with political turmoil at the highest levels at home?

    Aug 14, 2017

  • Iraqis celebrate as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces victory over Islamic State in Mosul, in Baghdad, Iraq, July 10, 2017

    Commentary

    Islamic State 2.0

    Many of Iraq's Sunnis are frustrated with the slow pace of reconstruction and a Baghdad government they consider too friendly to Iran. The U.S. needs to shift from supporting military operations in cities such as Mosul to helping the Iraqi government better address political grievances. Failure risks sowing the seeds of ISIS's resurgence.

    Aug 10, 2017

  • A passerby walks past a street monitor showing news of North Korea's fresh threat in Tokyo, Japan, August 9, 2017

    Commentary

    Contain, Deter, Transform: A Winning Strategy on North Korea

    North Korea's missile tests and reported progress in nuclear warhead design have produced a volatile new urgency in U.S. policy. Contain, deter, and transform isn't a radical solution, but it's one that has worked before. This approach could preserve U.S. interests while avoiding war.

    Aug 9, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister Mohammed bin Salman at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 30, 2017

    Report

    What Is Russia's Strategy in the Middle East?

    Russia's regional strategy is an approach of ways and means, where broad principles take the place of prescribed ends. Moscow is constantly seeking to improve its short-term economic, military, and political advantages.

    Aug 7, 2017

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany July 8, 2017

    Commentary

    In Its Relations with Russia, Can the U.S. Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time?

    A U.S. policy of unremitting hostility toward Russia won't command domestic support or secure European backing. Neither will a policy of comprehensive collaboration. Washington needs to confront Moscow where necessary and cooperate where possible.

    Aug 6, 2017

  • An American flag on a fence in the prairie

    Commentary

    American Isolationism Isn't New

    Isolationism is a recurring temptation of American foreign policy. Responding to new and unforeseen challenges, however, the United States has repeatedly resisted that temptation and risen to the demands of global leadership. Is it different today?

    Aug 1, 2017