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.

  • An American flag waving at sunset, photo by Emily Sisson/Getty Images

    Report

    How American Influence Has Declined, and What Can Be Done About It

    Sep 8, 2020

    The United States has been declining in foreign policy achievements for two decades. Skeptics need to be persuaded that working for a more peaceful and prosperous world is in America's national and their personal interest. And sustained public support for international engagement requires cooperation across party lines.

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, June 18, 2020, photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Reuters

    Commentary

    Abe's Resignation Could Leave Japan Less Secure—and Destabilize Its U.S. Alliance

    Sep 8, 2020

    Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's leadership, Japan tightened its alliance with the United States and took on a more proactive role in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. His resignation could very well leave Japan less secure and the U.S.-Japan alliance unstable.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Photo by Ron Przysucha/U.S. Government Photo

    Commentary

    PIF Fragmentation May Alter U.S.-China Competition in the Pacific

    The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) may be on the verge of fragmentation, and if it happens, the consequences for U.S.-China geostrategic competition could be significant. A divided PIF would likely present several opportunities and challenges for China and the United States as their competition ramps up in Oceania.

    Oct 14, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, June 5, 2019, photo by Maxim Shipenkov/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    China's Friends Are Few and Unreliable

    Amid escalating competition, China and the United States are actively shoring up their diplomatic relationships in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. Compared to the United States, China's friends are certainly not as numerous, nor are they as reliable. That is a major challenge for Beijing.

    Oct 12, 2020

  • The USS Carney, a missile-guided destroyer, approaches the Bosphorus Strait on its journey to transit out of the Black Sea, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Weston Jones/U.S. Navy

    Report

    Russia, NATO, and Black Sea Security

    The Black Sea region is a locus of the competition between Russia and the West for the future of Europe. What is Moscow doing to advance its goals there? And how might NATO allies and partners respond?

    Oct 5, 2020

  • Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Sochi, Russia, February 15, 2019, photo by Sergei Chirikov/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    Belarusian Mortgage on Russia's Future

    In September, President Vladimir Putin signaled that Russia was throwing its weight behind embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. But any move to enforce Putin's will in Belarus could invite tougher Western sanctions and scare investors. This would exacerbate problems facing Russia's flagging economy.

    Oct 5, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the 13th Political Bureau meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in this image released June 7, 2020 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea Has Agreed to Denuclearization. Trump Could Try to Make It Happen

    President Trump came into office determined to rein in the North Korean nuclear weapons program. But it has become quite clear that North Korea has no intention of giving it up. How might the United States bring North Korea into compliance with its denuclearization commitments?

    Sep 28, 2020

  • U.S. Navy vessels in the Philippine Sea, November, 2018, photo by MC2 Kaila V. Peters/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Ambiguity Has Its Uses

    As China's thirst to resolve the Taiwan issue intensifies, the United States' halfhearted commitment to the island will become increasingly perilous: too weak to deter Chinese aggression but strong enough to drag the United States into a war. No U.S. approach to Taiwan will offer a perfect guarantee of peace. But the United States has many options short of the provocative, costly, and diplomatically risky step of an unconditional security pledge.

    Sep 24, 2020

  • Dissertation

    Loosening the Okinawan Knot: A Mixed-Methods Study of Okinawan Public Perceptions of the U.S. Military

    Provides a detailed and reliable understanding of the nature of the Okinawan public's perceptions, policy preferences, and cultural attitudes regarding the problems and benefits associated with the U.S. military in Okinawa.

    Sep 21, 2020

  • Blog

    Wildfires, America's Wealth Gap, Screening for COVID-19 at Work: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the growing risk of wildfires, how Americans' incomes have grown (or not), workplace screenings for COVID-19 symptoms, and more.

    Sep 18, 2020

  • U.S. Marines engage targets during a live-fire demonstration near At-Tanf Garrison, Syria, Sept, 7, 2018, photo by Cpl. Carlos Lopez/U.S. Marine Corps

    Commentary

    In the Middle East, Russia and China Expand Their Influence

    While the United States is concerned primarily about a resurgent China's inroads in the Middle East, it is also nervous about the gambits of a revanchist Russia. As the United States decides when and how to contest China and Russia—in and beyond the Middle East—it will have to resist alarmism as vigorously as complacency.

    Sep 18, 2020

  • Journal Article

    Moscow's Calibrated Coercion in Ukraine and Russian Strategic Culture

    This paper analyzes Russia's use of force in Ukraine since the end of major combat operations in February 2015.

    Sep 16, 2020

  • Journal Article

    Strategic Sderzhivanie: Understanding Contemporary Russian Approaches to "Deterrence"

    This paper argues that viewing Russia's actions through the lens of the concept "sderzhivanie" can help Western analysts and decision-makers better understand the drivers of Moscow's behavior.

    Sep 16, 2020

  • USA flag over NYC skyline, photo by franckreporter/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Lost Generation in American Foreign Policy

    Throughout the 55 years following World War II, successive U.S. administrations racked up major foreign policy successes at an average rate of about once a year. Since 2001, the pace of foreign policy achievement has fallen to once every four years. The result has been a lost generation in American foreign policy.

    Sep 15, 2020

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warships and fighter jets take part in a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018

    Commentary

    America's Indo-Pacific Vision Is Becoming a Reality—Because of China

    The Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy has received a significant boost in recent months toward achieving its goal of keeping the region “free and open” from Chinese coercion. Ironically, China itself has been doing the boosting.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the foreign minister of Qatar are seen during talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Islamic State in Afghanistan Is Down, but Not Out

    The Afghan Taliban is on the verge of entering into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government in a peace deal facilitated by the United States. Washington seems to be holding out hope that the deal will stabilize the country. But the Islamic State Khorasan Province remains a concern. The Islamic State in Afghanistan may be down, but it's not out.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Winning Friends and Influencing People: Naval Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    This report provides an overview of the PLAN's approach to naval diplomacy, focusing on its activity outside maritime East Asia, in what it calls the "far seas."

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Blog

    America's Declining Global Influence, COVID-19 and Schools, Pardoning Snowden: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on America's declining status on the world stage, why schools need long-term plans to address COVID-19, what Shinzo Abe's resignation means for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and more.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a secret location in Afghanistan, November 10, 2001, photo by Hamid Mir/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Ayman al-Zawahiri Really the Future of Al-Qaida?

    Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. But even though Zawahiri has conjured less of a personality cult, al Qaida's current leader is just as dangerous to the United States as its old one.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 28, 2020, photo by Issei Kato/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Abe Leaves Behind

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's unexpected resignation leaves several of his policy priorities unfinished, including revising Japan's constitution and finalizing a peace treaty with Russia. But the security issues facing Japan and the region remain unchanged, and Abe's successor may be forced to confront several of them on his very first day.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • China's President Xi Jinping looks on during the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018, photo by Gulshan Khan/Pool/Reuters

    Testimony

    Continuity and Change in China's Foreign Policy

    China's hawkish and assertive foreign policy has experienced both continuity and change in recent years. What is the key criterion for evaluating the success of Beijing's foreign policy? And how do domestic pressures affect it?

    Sep 9, 2020