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.

  • A soldier loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's forces is seen in Quneitra, Syria, July 22, 2018

    Commentary

    The Power and Limits of Threat: The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act at One Year

    Jul 8, 2021

    A powerful new U.S. sanctions law on Syria came into effect one year ago, with great notice and speculation regarding its potential effects. Now, one year later, it is apparent that the act's power lies not in who the United States has sanctioned but in who the United States could sanction.

  • Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of the Taliban, in Tianjin, China, July 28, 2021, photo by Li Ran/Xinhua via Reuters

    Commentary

    Chinese Recognition of the Taliban Is All but Inevitable

    Aug 27, 2021

    China is likely to recognize and legitimize the new leadership in Afghanistan within the coming weeks or months. Even if China has real concerns about the Taliban's willingness to keep its promises, the potential benefits are simply too great for Beijing to ignore.

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  • Visualization

    Visualization

    Potential Drivers of Crises in the Arctic

    Historically in the Arctic, regional tensions have been resolved before turning into major crises. With the Arctic gaining more attention in recent years, are existing governance mechanisms enough to handle future diplomatic challenges?

    Sep 22, 2021

  • Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to media after annoucing his withdrawal from the party leadership race in Tokyo, Japan, September 3, 2021, photo by Kyodo/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Instability at the Top Means for Japan's Alliance with the United States

    Having shorter-serving prime ministers tends to minimize Japan's ability to operate as a strategic player. If Suga's resignation is the start of a revolving door, then the implications for Japan's policies and the U.S.-Japan alliance could be significant.

    Sep 22, 2021

  • Taliban flags are seen on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 16, 2021, photo by West Asia News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    China and Pakistan See Eye to Eye on the Taliban—Almost

    Beijing and Islamabad share a long history of cooperation and have much in common on Afghanistan. Both are poised to benefit strategically from the Taliban's success. But the Taliban's resurrection almost certainly will add some stress to an otherwise positive and productive bilateral partnership.

    Sep 21, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., September 16, 2021, photo by Leah Millis/Reuters

    Commentary

    Summit Gives Biden Chance to Nudge Post-Soviet States Toward Democracy

    President Biden is likely to invite the thriving Baltic countries to his “summit for democracy” in December. But he might also invite four mid-tier post-Soviet states: Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine—imperfect democracies all. By both praising and nudging this latter set, Biden could give his agenda more meaning.

    Sep 20, 2021

  • Russian paratroopers line up to board a transport plane during Zapad-2021 military exercises at an aerodrome in Kaliningrad Region, Russia, September 13, 2021, photo by Vitaly Nevar/Reuters

    Commentary

    Moscow Hesitated in Poland—Will It in Belarus?

    Forty years ago, Russia used a major military exercise in part to scare Poland's communist leaders into cracking down on protesters. A similar Russian exercise now could be aimed in part at pressuring Belarus. If so, the West could respond in several ways.

    Sep 13, 2021

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with Russian Olympic athletes at the Moscow Kremlin in run-up to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, June 30, 2021, photo by Sergei Bobylev/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Can a Pragmatic Relationship With the Taliban Help Russia Counter Terrorism?

    Neither the United States nor Russia wants to see Afghanistan become a haven for international terrorist groups. For now, Russia is taking a pragmatic approach to the Taliban in that it has a relationship with the group that the United States does not.

    Sep 8, 2021

  • Navy Cmdr. Ryan T. Easterday, commanding officer of the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, observes from the bridge wing as the ship sails in the South China Sea, Oct. 20, 2020, photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Markus Castaneda/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    Reinforcing U.S. Deterrence in the Indo-Pacific After the Fall of Afghanistan

    China and North Korea are seizing on the U.S. departure from Afghanistan to press their own political warfare messages. What can the United States do to mitigate the impact of the Taliban takeover on America's interests in the Indo-Pacific?

    Sep 3, 2021

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech at Patriot Congress and Exhibition Centre in the Moscow Region, Russia, August 23, 2021, photo by Ramil Sitdikov/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    After Afghanistan, Could Russia Misjudge America?

    Over the years the United States has been humbled abroad more than once but bounced back. Now, as the United States withdraws from Afghanistan, might Russia see the United States as defeated and vulnerable to pressure? This could be an error.

    Aug 26, 2021

  • A U.S. Marine escorts Department of State personnel to be processed for evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 15, 2021, photo by Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marines via Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan Withdrawal Says Little About U.S. Commitments Elsewhere

    The United States is a nation which sees that it is in its vital interest to deter autocrats from adventurism and challenges to the world order. Drawing lessons from the narrow case of Afghanistan to speak about broad U.S. resolve or credibility comes with an inherent risk that adversaries may choose to ignore at their own peril.

    Aug 25, 2021

  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a news conference in New Delhi, India, July 28, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden's Indo-Pacific Policy Blueprint Emerges

    The Biden administration has yet to detail its goals in the Indo-Pacific region and how it plans to achieve them. But following recent virtual engagements and U.S. visits to the region, at least three key points have crystallized.

    Aug 23, 2021

  • People try to get into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 16, 2021, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Q&A

    Collapse in Afghanistan: Early Insights from RAND Researchers

    The sudden end to America's longest war came as the Taliban rolled into Kabul and the government collapsed. RAND researchers share their thoughts on how to help displaced Afghans, whether the country could again become a safe haven for terrorists, and the geopolitical implications of the collapse.

    Aug 17, 2021

  • The verdict is announced in the embezzlement trial of U.S. investor Michael Calvey (L) at Meshchansky District Court, Moscow, Russia, August 5, 2021, video still by Moscow City Court/TASSTHIS via Reuters

    Commentary

    Which Kremlin Can Investors Expect?

    A Kremlin that backs sound macroeconomic policy and a strong private sector could hearten investors. A Kremlin that pursues statist economics and security at all costs could discourage them. Which Kremlin should investors expect?

    Aug 12, 2021

  • Blog

    Media Literacy, Internet of Bodies, Arctic Governance: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on teaching media literacy in schools, a “connected future” via the Internet of Bodies, gaps in Arctic governance, and more.

    Aug 6, 2021

  • Representations of cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, DogeCoin, Ripple, and Litecoin placed on a PC motherboard, June 29, 2021, photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

    Commentary

    Cryptocurrency Should Be Added to the U.S.-Japan Trade Deal

    As the Biden administration begins to define its approach to international trade, and the Suga administration looks to further tighten cooperation with the United States, it may be worth reconsidering the exclusion of cryptocurrency from the U.S.-Japan trade deal. Substantial economic equities are at stake for both sides.

    Jul 28, 2021

  • Topographic map showing Russia and the Arctic region, image by FrankRamspott/Getty Images

    Report

    Exploring Gaps in Arctic Governance

    Conditions in the Arctic region are evolving, driven by such factors as climate change, economics, and geopolitics. What are the risks that come with these changes—and how could governance in the Arctic adapt to mitigate them?

    Jul 27, 2021

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a summit in Paris, France, December 10, 2019, photo by Charles Platiau/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    Disrespecting Europe Could Cost Russia

    Western unity is critical to addressing authoritarian challenges. Brexit, immigration, leadership transition in Germany, and COVID-19 provide grist for Russian propaganda claims of European weakness. But unified EU action on Ukraine, Navalny, and Belarus shows that Europe is a force with which to be reckoned.

    Jul 26, 2021

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and other Taliban delegation members attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow, Russia, March 18, 2021, photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

    China is set to benefit significantly from a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. It's worth following this dynamic closely in the coming weeks and months.

    Jul 22, 2021

  • An I-Kiribati girl watches as the Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Millinocket arrives in Tarawa, Republic of Kiribati, June 2, 2015, photo by Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Kulp/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    America's Strategy in Oceania: Time for a Better Approach

    China has moved in earnest to engage with Oceania, while the United States is vying to get a toehold in the region. To develop an effective strategy for engaging there, Washington could seek guidance from key allies to better understand their experience, lessons, and efforts already underway.

    Jul 19, 2021

  • Aerial of Thule Air Base, Greenland, photo by JoAnne Castagna, Public Affairs/U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

    Commentary

    Mind the GIUK Gap

    For decades, NATO forces have used nearby bases to keep tabs on Russian submarines, surface ships, and aircraft transiting the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom Gap. Strong independence movements in Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Scotland could soon jeopardize this position.

    Jul 15, 2021