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

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) delivers remarks on North Korea, accompanied by U.S. President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, February 11, 2017

    Commentary

    Japan's Election Matters for U.S. Interests

    What happens in Japan's election carries enormous consequence for the United States and its interests in the region. U.S. Asia policy begins and ends with America's critical alliance with Japan.

    Oct 21, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran nuclear deal in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 13, 2017

    Commentary

    Punting on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    President Trump has signaled that he is likely to decline to certify that Iran is adhering to its nuclear deal commitments. The alternatives to the agreement are clear: Iran will develop nuclear weapons, the U.S. will go to war to prevent this, or both.

    Oct 16, 2017

  • A container is loaded on to the first Chinese container ship to depart after the inauguration of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor port in Gwadar, Pakistan November 13, 2016

    Commentary

    China's Field of Dreams in Pakistan

    China is four years into joint planning and construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, from Kashgar, China to the Pakistani port of Gwadar. What are the benefits for China and Pakistan and what do they mean for future growth in the region?

    Oct 16, 2017

  • U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles arrive at Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, where USAF will assume control of the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from the Polish air force on August 30, 2017

    Report

    How Might Russia Respond to U.S. and NATO Posture Changes?

    The escalation in tensions between Russia and NATO since 2014 has led to numerous proposals to enhance U.S. and NATO posture on the Alliance's eastern flank. Assessing Russia's possible reactions is vital to any analysis of which posture and capability enhancements the U.S. and NATO should pursue.

    Oct 10, 2017

  • Arctic waters

    Commentary

    Policy Challenges in the Arctic: Q&A with Abbie Tingstad

    Abbie Tingstad discusses how the opening of the Arctic by climate change could strain relationships among Arctic nations, how these changes will affect indigenous communities, and what to make of Russia's military buildup in the region.

    Oct 6, 2017

  • A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer is joined by Republic of Korea air force F-15s, during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017

    Commentary

    On North Korea, Past Foreign Policy Fiascoes Show U.S. What Not to Do

    Foreign policy disasters are often the sum of two basic errors: embracing exaggerated claims about the need to act, and inventing a conceptual magic wand to wish away potential consequences. Both are apparent in U.S. policy toward North Korea's nuclear aspirations.

    Oct 5, 2017

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani delivers remarks at a news conference during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, September 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Decertifying the Iran Nuclear Deal Would Not Increase U.S. Leverage

    The Iran nuclear agreement is not perfect, but it is working. Iran is no longer on the brink of being able to produce a nuclear weapon as it was two years ago. The suggestion that decertifying would increase U.S. leverage to renegotiate and strengthen the agreement is unrealistic.

    Oct 5, 2017

  • Saudi Arabia's King Salman (L) speaks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin (R) during a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival in Moscow, Russia, October 4, 2017

    Commentary

    King Salman and Putin Deals Leave the U.S. Out in the Cold

    Riyadh plans to invest in Russian energy assets and possibly arms. The deals will lead to the manufacture of arms in Saudi Arabia and likely the transfer of military technology. These agreements thwart the U.S.- and EU-led sanctions regime and send an important signal to Washington.

    Oct 4, 2017

  • U.S. President Donald Trump is shown on a large screen as he addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017

    Commentary

    The Multilateral Order Makes America Stronger

    Skeptics have suggested that U.S. interests and support for the international community are somehow mutually exclusive. In fact, international institutions, rules, and norms have mostly worked in the U.S. interest, not against it. The Trump administration has an opportunity to build on that record with a strong agenda of reform and support.

    Sep 26, 2017

  • Connections drawn over a world map

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Chessboard and the Web,' by Anne-Marie Slaughter

    Few quests in international relations scholarship are as imperative and vexing as that of rethinking power — how it is defined, who wields which types, and what strategies different actors pursue to accumulate it. Slaughter's new book is a significant contribution to that end.

    Sep 22, 2017

  • 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 in dealing with Russia. Now continental Europe must assume more of the burden in advancing Western values and interests with an unpredictable and at times unruly Moscow.

    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?

    A recent military standoff on the Doklam Plateau was the most serious confrontation between China and India in a generation. It holds lessons for nations interested in Beijing's global strategic calculus.

    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 the order is threatened by geopolitical and domestic socioeconomic trends that call into question its 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