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

  • World flags

    Commentary

    Book Review: The Sovereignty Wars by Stewart Patrick

    “Sovereignty” is a complicated, multifaceted construct. The Sovereignty Wars is a timely and meticulous effort by author Stewart Patrick to clarify that concept, whose usage is a matter of both analytical interest and policymaking import.

    May 17, 2018

  • A Vietnamese floating guard station on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, April 12, 2010

    Commentary

    Deciphering Vietnam's Evolving Military Doctrine in the South China Sea

    Vietnam has sought to balance China's expanding presence in the South China Sea through diplomacy and military modernization. The Vietnam People's Army has acquired many useful weapons, but unfamiliarity with combat in the sea and air will test its evolving military doctrine.

    May 11, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump just before signing a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The Strategic Fallout of U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Deal

    President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear agreement. What will happen next? Friction between the United States and its European allies will likely increase, while Iran moves closer to China and Russia. Also, the resentment of a new generation of Iranians toward America is likely to grow.

    May 10, 2018

  • Vladimir Putin is sworn in as president during an inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2018

    Commentary

    How Russia's Blunders Abroad Have Galvanized Europe

    Russia overrates the efficacy of the military and underrates political and economic assets. Through this outdated prism the Kremlin sees Europe as America's weak sister. This miscalculation has led Russia repeatedly to err, as shown by decades of frustrated efforts to divide Europeans and split them from the U.S.

    May 10, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Sochi, Russia, November 20, 2017

    Commentary

    The Limits of Russian Strategy in the Middle East

    The greatest limitation of Russia's Middle East strategy is that it is not Russia, but the Middle Eastern states themselves that determine the depth of their relations with Moscow. Just as Russia seeks to engage in the Middle East for its own benefit, these states also seek to use Russia to their advantage.

    May 10, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it at the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    The U.S. Is Out of the Iran Deal. What Now?

    Abandoning the nuclear agreement with Iran isolates the United States, reneges on an American commitment, adds to the risk of a trade war with U.S. allies and a hot war with Iran, and diminishes the prospects of an agreement to eliminate the North Korean threat.

    May 9, 2018

  • Containers at the Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai, China, April 24, 2018

    Commentary

    The Greater Danger of U.S.-China Trade Tensions

    Trade tensions between the United States and China could escalate into a full-blown trade war, with ramifications for economic ties and the global economy. The long-term danger, however, is that tensions could begin to undercut the interdependence that has been so essential to keeping strategic competition between the two giants in check.

    May 9, 2018

  • Report

    Managing International Borders: Balancing Security with the Licit Flow of People and Goods

    This Perspective builds on global best practices and lessons learned from other established border management solutions and proposes opportunities to strengthen security while improving the flow of travelers and goods.

    May 9, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers his speech at the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 20, 2018

    Commentary

    Recalibrate, Rather Than Abandon, U.S. China Policy

    China does not necessarily seek to succeed the U.S. as the world’s superpower, especially if such a mantle would impose on it real and/or perceived obligations for steering global affairs. What is the verdict, then, on America’s China policy, and where should the two countries go from here?

    May 8, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin walks down the stairs after an inauguration ceremony in Cathedral Square at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 7, 2018

    Commentary

    Russia Chooses Autarchy—and Isolation—Over Cooperation

    Russia says it is ending a centuries-long quest to join the West and preparing for “100 years of geopolitical solitude.” If Russia goes this way it will be because of its own unwise policies, not a Western cold shoulder.

    May 7, 2018

  • Illustration of a globe deconstructed

    Report

    Building a Sustainable World Order

    The growing threat to the rules-based postwar order is a defining feature of current discussions about world politics. A two-year project explored the existing international order, assessed the challenges facing it, and recommended policies to advance U.S. interests.

    May 3, 2018

  • An American flag after a sunset

    Commentary

    What Role Will the United States Play in the World?

    Under the leadership of President Trump, the United States is questioning the net strategic benefits of its participation in the postwar order as never before. Foreign policy priorities are increasingly disconnected from the day-to-day concerns of most Americans.

    Apr 30, 2018

  • U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis speaks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 13, 2018

    Commentary

    Is America Ready for a Peace Deal in Afghanistan?

    The Trump administration appears to be following its predecessor in imagining a political endgame in Afghanistan. It is focused on military efforts to try to turn the tide of the conflict, in hopes of negotiating from a stronger position. But if all sides continue to seek military advantage, negotiations will never commence.

    Apr 27, 2018

  • Report

    Strengthening U.S.-ROK Relations in the New Administrations of the United States and South Korea: Findings from an October 2016 RAND Corporation Conference

    This summary outlines presentations and discussions from an October 2016 conference on relations between the United States and the Republic of Korea, with a focus on strengthening regional security and economic relations.

    Apr 27, 2018

  • A police notice is attached to screening surrounding a restaurant which was visited by former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia before they were found on a park bench after being poisoned in Salisbury, Britain, March 19, 2018

    Commentary

    Arms Control Hostage to Skripal and Syria Attacks

    Two prominent poisoning assassination attempts and Kremlin denials of gas attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad raise doubts about Moscow's commitment to the purposes of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Never has the future of negotiated arms control involving Russia been at greater risk.

    Apr 19, 2018

  • Syrian medical staff take part in a training exercise on how to treat victims of chemical weapons attacks, Gaziantep, Turkey, July 20, 2017

    Commentary

    Are Chemical Weapons Becoming a Tacitly Accepted Weapon of War?

    The international community should consider serious options to hold perpetrators of chemical attacks accountable and stop further attacks. These are not easy choices. But the alternative is accepting that long-held norms are crumbling, and the world is sliding back to a time when inhumane tools of war were common.

    Apr 18, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump greets Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their bilateral meeting at Trump s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S., April 17, 2018

    Commentary

    Why the U.S.-Japan Summit Matters

    After a year and half of relative stability, the The United States and Japan now must talk about difficult issues in which they have vested interests. As allies, and close friends, they could both benefit from reconfirming common goals and establishing a set of strategies to deal with challenges.

    Apr 17, 2018

  • Birds silhouetted over the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol at sunrise in Washington, D.C., November 8, 2016

    Commentary

    Political Warfare Is Back with a Vengeance

    The United States' principal adversaries are fighting and gaining ground by employing a host of tactics short of all-out war. This form of warfare, once called political warfare, is back with a vengeance, empowered by new tools and techniques.

    Apr 13, 2018

  • World map on abstract technology background

    Report

    New Challenges in Cross-Domain Deterrence

    America's ability to deter aggression in the traditional air, land, and sea domains of warfare has been cast in doubt. And new requirements to deter future aggression in the domains of space and cyberspace have arisen. How can the United States and its allies meet these challenges?

    Apr 12, 2018

  • A member of U.S forces rides on a military vehicle in the town of Darbasiya next to the Turkish border, Syria April 28, 2017

    Commentary

    Conditioning American Withdrawal from Syria

    U.S. forces will soon withdraw from Syria, and the U.S. State Department put a hold on further stabilization assistance to areas liberated from the Islamic State. The U.S. and its partners should offer stabilization and reconstruction help, particularly in regions where much of the damage was the result of American-supported military operations.

    Apr 9, 2018