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.

  • Workers repair the damage in front of Aleppo's historic citadel, as posters depicting Syria's President Bashar al-Assad are erected in the Old City of Aleppo, Syria, January 31, 2017

    Report

    Exchange Reconstruction Assistance for Bottom-Up Reform in Syria

    Nov 30, 2017

    Syrian peace talks are not working. What leverage the United States and its allies have derives largely from their ability to offer or withhold reconstruction aid. Offering reconstruction on a community-by-community basis could provide a way forward in Syria.

  • U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 5, 2018

    Commentary

    Gaza on the Brink

    Mar 9, 2018

    The combined risk of violence and pandemic in Gaza makes this small coastal enclave a ticking time bomb. While neither Israel nor the U.S. has the solutions to all of Gaza's water and health woes, the United States' decision to withhold funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency could only make things worse.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • U.S. President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017

    Commentary

    What Does America's Political Polarization Mean for Competition with China?

    Political polarization in the United States potentially carries significant implications for America's strategic competition with China. Leaders in Washington will need to work to mitigate the effects of polarization and manage competition with China in a stable, effective manner.

    Nov 9, 2018

  • News Release

    A Study of Potential Paths to Korean Unification Recommends Avoiding Approaches Involving Armed Conflict

    An examination of nine potential paths to Korean unification recommends actions that the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea) and the United States can take to set the conditions for stable reunification, should the opportunity arise.

    Oct 31, 2018

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a session at the lower house of parliament in Berlin, October 17, 2018

    Commentary

    Merkel's Departure: A Star Begins to Dim

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to not seek re-election may signal an end to two key features of post-WWII Europe.

    Oct 31, 2018

  • Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, April 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Is Major Realignment Taking Place in the Middle East?

    The shifting alignments in the Middle East have intensified since the murder of the Saudi journalist Khashoggi in Istanbul. Turkey has drifted away from NATO and toward Iran and Russia. Like Tehran and Moscow, Ankara is now more anti-Western than at any point in recent memory. What does this mean for the United States?

    Oct 31, 2018

  • People attend a march for peace, prosperity, and reunification of Korea near the Arch of Reunification in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released September 12, 2018 by the Korean Central News Agency

    Report

    Alternative Paths to Korean Unification

    There are many ways in which Korean unification could occur or be attempted, and each holds vast uncertainties. What actions could South Korea and the United States take to set the conditions for stable reunification?

    Oct 31, 2018

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 25, 2018

    Commentary

    Japan's Chance to Shine?

    Japan may never be a global leader in a way comparable to the United States. But Tokyo does have the power to provide leadership that will sustain key elements of the crumbling international order.

    Oct 30, 2018

  • Jerusalem skyline

    Report

    What If Palestinians Start Voting in Jerusalem City Elections?

    Since 1967, most Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have boycotted municipal elections to avoid legitimating Israeli rule. But recent polls suggest that some might be warming to the idea of voting. A game with Israeli and Palestinian policy experts examined possible consequences of the boycott ending.

    Oct 25, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, meets with Saudi Arabia's Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh, May 20, 2017

    Commentary

    The Khashoggi Case and the Cost of Subcontracting U.S. Policy

    Following the killing of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the United States needs to, at minimum, return toward a distinctly American policy toward the Middle East, one which can be distinguished from that of its local partners.

    Oct 23, 2018

  • Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, speaks to members of media after voting in the general election in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 25, 2018

    Commentary

    New Pakistan, Old Challenges

    While the United States has been voicing concerns about the destabilizing potential of China's Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistan needs the economic stability that initiative could bring. As long as Pakistan remains a poor country, its democracy will be at risk.

    Oct 17, 2018

  • Mourners carry the coffin of Amin Karimi, a member of Iranian Revolutionary Guards who was killed in Syria, during his funeral in Tehran, October 28, 2015

    Commentary

    America's Indefinite Endgame in Syria

    The Trump administration's position on the Syrian civil war has shifted from countering ISIS to containing Iran. America will remain in Syria as long as Iran does. But an unending timetable for the withdrawal of troops is far more problematic for Washington than it is for Tehran.

    Oct 16, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk at the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korean Actions Speak Louder Than Its Words

    Kim Jong Un has regularly promised to denuclearize, but he's been all talk. And this year, North Korea has probably built five to nine more nuclear weapons. There are steps that could make a difference if taken before the North Korean nuclear weapon threat grows any further.

    Oct 11, 2018

  • Edward Gonzalez

    Announcement

    Statement About Edward Gonzalez, RAND Consultant and Expert on Cuba

    Edward Gonzalez, a longtime RAND resident consultant and political science professor at UCLA who spent decades studying Fidel Castro's Cuba and its relations with the United States and the former Soviet Union, has died. He was 85.

    Oct 9, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on September 4, 2018

    Commentary

    What Does China's Pursuit of a Global Coalition Mean for World Politics?

    As disputes between Beijing and Washington over trade and other issues intensify, analysts have highlighted domestic factors as reasons why President Xi Jinping may resist compromise. However, China's pursuit of a greater international leadership role likely plays an overlooked, but increasingly important role.

    Oct 8, 2018

  • Ukrainian army landing craft Yurii Olefirenko in the Black Sea during military drills in the Kherson Region, Ukraine, September 29, 2018

    Commentary

    Russia's Neighbors Want Alternatives

    The longer Russia delays in improving relations with its neighbors, the more likely they will pursue alternative options. It is also likely that tensions will persist between those neighbors and Russia—and in Russia's relationship with the West. Efforts to ease that tension should be high on the list of Western priorities with Russia.

    Oct 4, 2018

  • Paper boats with flags of China, Japan, and the United States on a map of East Asia

    Commentary

    The Implications of U.S.-China Trade Tensions for Japan

    Washington and Beijing seem prepared to begin decoupling from one another economically, which puts Tokyo in a difficult position. Japan may have to devise new strategies not only for sustaining its growth, but also for insulating itself from the impact of deteriorating relations between the United States and China.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi makes a speech during a ceremony to receive locally-produced yellowcake, in Isfahan, Iran, December 5, 2010

    Commentary

    Can U.S. Pressure Lead to a New Iran Nuclear Deal?

    It could be a mistake for the United States to assume that more pressure will bring Iran closer to ending or reducing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. When it comes to measures aimed at Iran's nuclear program, more pressure could worsen nuclear risks and further drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russian-Chinese talks at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, September 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties

    The appearance of military cooperation between China and Russia masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion. But despite these real limitations, strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward.

    Sep 11, 2018

  • The Department of State in Washington, D.C.

    Commentary

    Reforming Security Assistance: Why the State Department Can't Lead from Behind

    The reforms in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act are driving the Department of Defense to improve security cooperation planning. Similar reforms for the State Department could help leaders there more effectively communicate the value of security assistance and maintain their traditional leadership role.

    Sep 5, 2018

  • Eroding world map

    Commentary

    Taking Stock of a Shifting World Order

    The postwar order seems poised to continue eroding, without a clear alternative in the offing. It has often taken cataclysmic events to inaugurate new eras of geopolitical order, but one hopes that the postwar order will instead be reinvigorated through farsighted statecraft.

    Aug 31, 2018

  • International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks at a Belt and Road conference in Beijing, China, April 12, 2018

    Commentary

    The Global Order Will Outlast U.S. Leadership

    Even if America bails on the international order there is plenty of evidence that Europe, China, Japan, and the rest of the developed world will maintain existing multilateral structures and build new ones. The order will survive but may become less liberal, less democratic, and perhaps less peaceful.

    Aug 23, 2018