International Diplomacy


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, photo by Omar Sanadiki/Reuters


    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, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters


    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

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves to the crowd during a military parade in Pyongyang, April 15, 2012


    What Will Kim Jong Un Want and What He Might Give

    Verifiable denuclearization is an impossible goal, not just because Kim Jong Un may not agree, but because such a deal couldn't be fully verified if he did. But this doesn't mean there is no deal worth making for America.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • A display featuring missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is seen at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran, September 27, 2017


    Can Europe Save the Iran Nuclear Deal?

    In mid-January, President Trump threatened to withdraw from the Iran agreement if Europe does not “fix” it within four months. There are viable steps Europe could take to address Trump's concerns about the deal—on missile development, inspections, and sunset clauses. But if the United States withdraws, Europe could still work with other international powers to keep the deal alive.

    Mar 12, 2018

  • Report

    Getting Out from "In-Between": Perspectives on the Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia

    The perspectives collected in these conference proceedings explore alternatives to the current approaches to the regional order for the states "in between" the West and Russia -- Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

    Mar 8, 2018

  • U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) meets with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the State Department in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2018


    Book Review: Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony

    In Safe Passage: The Transition from British to American Hegemony Kori Schake discusses the world's peaceful transition from British Empire to United States preeminence. She also considers the implications of her analysis for the present dynamics between a preeminent United States and a resurgent China.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly in Moscow, Russia March 1, 2018


    Could Putin's Speech Signal the Erosion of Nuclear Nonproliferation?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has linked the development of new nuclear weapons capabilities to the United States' refusal to collaborate on arms control. Perhaps before Russia goes down this path, another attempt at dialogue would be beneficial as both nations have expressed a shared interest in limiting nuclear proliferation.

    Mar 7, 2018

  • Chinese New Year parade in Australia


    Beijing's Influence Operations Target Chinese Diaspora

    China's efforts to gain support in and control diaspora communities threaten to worsen inter-ethnic tensions, aggravate political and social polarization, and harm civil rights and freedoms of citizens in other countries. Such activities merit close attention by democratic governments seeking to counter China's influence operations.

    Mar 1, 2018

  • U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announces North Korea-related sanctions, Washington, D.C., February 23, 2018


    North Korean Sanctions to Make for Interesting U.S.-China Trade Talks

    With one of China's top officials arriving in Washington for trade talks, this might not be the best time to impose additional tariffs on Chinese exports, as the Trump administration has been threatening.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • Trade ministers and delegates from the remaining members of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) attend the TPP Ministerial Meeting during the APEC 2017 in Da Nang, Vietnam November 9, 2017


    The Danger of Might Without Power

    A more forceful U.S. posture in the Asia-Pacific would likely strengthen America's long-term position in the region. The effort should rehabilitate key bilateral alliances, especially with Tokyo and Seoul, and compete with or at least supplement the roster of economic initiatives that China is advancing across the region.

    Feb 28, 2018

  • U.S. Army soldiers load military vehicles onto trains at Camp Carroll in Chilgok, South Korea, during the annual Key Resolve/Foal Eagle military exercises, March 6, 2012


    Joint Military Exercise Can Be a Bargaining Chip with North Korea

    Since 1976, the United States and South Korea have scheduled large-scale joint military exercises each year. Postponing the exercises this year has led to some signs that North Korea might be open to diplomacy. Delaying the exercises further could lead to direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

    Feb 23, 2018

  • U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and South Korea's President Moon Jae-in attend short track speed skating events in Pyeongchang, February 10, 2018


    At Olympics, U.S. and Korean Leaders Revive Familiar Roles

    The current spate of North-South Korean diplomacy could be short-lived, giving way to resumed tensions and mounting fears of war. It seems possible, however, that South Korean President Moon Jae-in will succeed in brokering direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

    Feb 22, 2018

  • Chinese boats fish at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017


    The Potential of the Quadrilateral

    The countries of the Quadrilateral Security Framework are the region's four most capable maritime powers, and are naturally concerned with China's assault on international rules and norms. If ever put in place, the Quad could contribute to the maintenance of security and order in the Indo-Pacific maritime commons.

    Feb 22, 2018

  • A model of Taiwanese domestically manufactured Hsiung Feng III Anti-Ship Missile is seen inside the missile launching vehicle during International Maritime and Defense Industry Exposition in Kaohsiung, Taiwan September 16, 2016


    China Is Tightening the Screws on Taiwan. Will Trump Act and Risk Losing Beijing?

    The United States should consider ways to strengthen its engagement with Taiwan on defense and security issues that go beyond arms sales. Washington will need to do more to help Taiwan deal with other forms of Chinese pressure as well.

    Feb 22, 2018

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) makes a statement as European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini watches, following nuclear talks at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, April 2, 2015.

    Journal Article

    Saving Transatlantic Cooperation and the Iran Nuclear Deal: A View from Europe and the United States

    Strong transatlantic cooperation holds the best prospects for achieving the core common objective of preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.

    Feb 16, 2018

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with scientists, representing the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Novosibirsk, Russia February 8, 2018


    Free Lunches for Adversaries

    When leaders take actions that are unpopular with wide audiences, propagandists have it easy. While Western leaders should not make propaganda potential the primary factor when weighing policy decisions, neither should they wholly disregard the opportunities that unpopular policies will offer adversaries.

    Feb 13, 2018

  • A Chinese military band conductor prepares to perform before the opening ceremony of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 5, 2007


    China Has Big Plans to Win the Next War It Fights

    The People's Liberation Army (PLA) views modern conflict as a confrontation between opposing systems. This systems-thinking has wide ranging implications for how the PLA conceptualizes warfare in the twenty-first century.

    Feb 12, 2018

  • North Korean cheerleaders await the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 9, 2018


    Countering North Korea's Political Warfare

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has outmaneuvered South Korean President Moon Jae-in in the month leading up to the Olympics. This has dangerous consequences for South Korea's security, democracy, and its alliance with the United States.

    Feb 11, 2018

  • Russian trucks seen on the road heading to Deir al-Zor in Kabakeb near Deir al-Zor, Syria September 21, 2017


    Russia Is Not a Viable Counterterrorism Partner for the United States

    Russia is America's adversary and its actions, particularly attempts to fracture NATO, do not align with larger U.S. security goals. Even where there are areas in which the two countries could work together to mutual benefit, any cooperation should be judicious, measured and treated with the requisite degree of skepticism.

    Feb 9, 2018

  • U.S. and Chinese officials meet prior to the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2017


    The Competition for Status Could Increase the Risk of a Military Clash in Asia

    The prospect of conflict involving China remains remote, and Beijing remains committed to peaceful development. But if Beijing ever concludes that the United States and its allies have successfully stymied its aspirations, China may be tempted by riskier methods to assert its status.

    Feb 2, 2018

  • Smoke rises after an airstrike during fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants, Raqqa, Syria, August 15, 2017


    Tillerson's All of the Above Policy for Syria

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposed to suppress any ISIS resurgence in Syria, oust Bashar al Assad, reduce Iranian influence, continue to back a Kurdish-dominated enclave, and reassure Turkey. It's important to understand why such an “all of the above” approach would not be workable.

    Feb 1, 2018

  • Birds fly above damaged buildings in a rebel-held area in Deraa, Syria, January 25, 2018


    Counteracting Iran's Gray Zone Strategy in Syria

    Iran is extending its influence throughout Syria as the Islamic State's influence declines. To counter Iranian efforts and the inevitable similar actions of other countries, the United States should dedicate significant resources to crafting a strategy to prevent Tehran from taking advantage of the conflict and humanitarian crisis.

    Jan 25, 2018