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

  • Chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi makes a speech during a ceremony to receive locally-produced yellowcake, in Isfahan, Iran, December 5, 2010

    Commentary

    Can U.S. Pressure Lead to A New Iran Nuclear Deal?

    It could be a mistake for the United States to assume that more pressure will bring Iran closer to ending or reducing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. When it comes to measures aimed at Iran's nuclear program, more pressure could worsen nuclear risks and further drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russian-Chinese talks at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, September 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties

    The appearance of military cooperation between China and Russia masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion. But despite these real limitations, strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward.

    Sep 11, 2018

  • The Department of State in Washington, D.C.

    Commentary

    Reforming Security Assistance: Why the State Department Can't Lead from Behind

    The reforms in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act are driving the Department of Defense to improve security cooperation planning. Similar reforms for the State Department could help leaders there more effectively communicate the value of security assistance and maintain their traditional leadership role.

    Sep 5, 2018

  • Eroding world map

    Commentary

    Taking Stock of a Shifting World Order

    The postwar order seems poised to continue eroding, without a clear alternative in the offing. It has often taken cataclysmic events to inaugurate new eras of geopolitical order, but one hopes that the postwar order will instead be reinvigorated through farsighted statecraft.

    Aug 31, 2018

  • International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks at a Belt and Road conference in Beijing, China, April 12, 2018

    Commentary

    The Global Order Will Outlast U.S. Leadership

    Even if America bails on the international order there is plenty of evidence that Europe, China, Japan, and the rest of the developed world will maintain existing multilateral structures and build new ones. The order will survive but may become less liberal, less democratic, and perhaps less peaceful.

    Aug 23, 2018

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Fox News after a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018

    Commentary

    Walking a Fine Line on Russian Sanctions

    The United States and its allies are increasingly frustrated over malign activities by Russia. This week the U.S. unveiled new sanctions, and is expected to impose even more in the future. But choosing sanctions requires care. Their purpose should be to penalize Russia for misbehavior, but not to isolate Russians.

    Aug 22, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, June 8, 2018

    Commentary

    A U.S.-Russia Partnership Against China Is Unlikely

    After Donald Trump's summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July, it might appear as if the U.S. and Russia are considering the formation of a partnership against China. But Russia seems more likely to try to expand the scope of its cooperation with China while also attempting to extract concessions from the United States.

    Aug 21, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump arrives to announce his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Bringing Back Sanctions Will Hurt U.S. Allies and Iran, but Will It Help America?

    What happens if leaving the Iran nuclear deal and applying “maximum pressure” doesn't lead Iran to change its behavior or the regime to collapse? The Trump administration may find that it's much easier to break a deal than to replace it with something better.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit, July 8, 2017

    Commentary

    Navigating Asia's Stormy Seas: Regional Perspectives on U.S.-China Competition

    Many of the key advantages the United States enjoys in a strategic competition with China depend on strong relationships with U.S. allies and partners. Beijing will certainly do its utmost to take advantage of any opportunities presented by concerns about the strength and sustainability of the U.S. role in the region.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • Members of the United Nations Security Council during a meeting at the U.N. headquarters in New York, April 14, 2018

    Commentary

    The Roots—and Purpose—of the Post-War Order

    As the world enters an era of greater international competition, U.S. policymakers should take care not to underestimate the importance of the postwar system. The order is far from a myth; it is the United States' most important competitive advantage.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • The U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea, January 22, 2017

    Commentary

    The Security Risks of a Trade War with China

    As U.S.-China trade tensions continue to rise, many observers are focused on the potential for a full-fledged trade war that could destabilize the world economy. But there are security concerns as well. A China less constrained by and invested in economic ties with the United States could pose a greater challenge to U.S. foreign policy.

    Aug 6, 2018

  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, May 21, 2018

    Commentary

    Regime Change in Iran: Watch What You Ask For

    Mike Pompeo's speech in May signaled a desire for regime change in Iran, but the U.S. will have to change its approach to shape a positive outcome. This could involve targeting sanctions more narrowly rather than seeking to impoverish the general population. And lifting the ban on Iranian visitors to the U.S. would be a good start.

    Aug 2, 2018

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China's President Xi Jinping, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Brazil's President Michel Temer pose for a group picture at the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018

    Commentary

    China Prepares for an International Order After U.S. Leadership

    In Beijing's estimation, key geopolitical developments have increased the possibility that China will face a power transition with the United States in coming years. In response, Chinese officials are laying the groundwork to manage that transition and ensure a leading role for their country in the emerging international order.

    Aug 2, 2018

  • Flags of the world

    Commentary

    Attempts to Order Geopolitics Have a Sobering History

    Past efforts to introduce world order have resulted less from foresighted statecraft than from cataclysmic upheavals such as World War II. If the current international system erodes, what might have to happen for a new one to emerge?

    Jul 25, 2018

  • Globe on chess board

    Report

    Proposing a New American Approach to Political Warfare

    U.S. adversaries employ a blend of political, economic, cyber, and military tools. To address these nonconventional threats, America should consider developing a capability to orchestrate all elements of national power, both in war and in peace.

    Jul 24, 2018

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during their summit at the truce village of Panmunjom, North Korea, May 27, 2018

    Commentary

    Making Sense of South Korea's Cautious Optimism on North Korea

    South Korea is cautiously optimistic that North Korea will denuclearize, and it hopes that this will lead to the normalization of relations. The vast majority of U.S. observers believe that the North is bluffing. Seoul and Washington should continue to strive for transparency about the future of the peninsula.

    Jul 24, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi talk as they visit the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, China, April 27, 2018

    Commentary

    Is India the Weakest Link in the Quad?

    India's sustained membership in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue would fit with the goal of balancing against China to deter it from further militarizing the Indo-Pacific. But New Dehli may be getting cold feet.

    Jul 23, 2018

  • Shipping containers at a port in Shanghai, China, July 10, 2018

    Commentary

    The U.S.-China Trade War: Different Messages

    The trade war between the United States and China began with the notification of tariffs on $34 billion of traded goods on each side. Officials on both sides of the Pacific are using different messages to convey the dispute. What are the real impacts likely to be?

    Jul 20, 2018

  • Journal Article

    After the Summit: Prospects for the Korean Peninsula

    History suggests that the most probable consequence of the Singapore Summit will be difficult and lengthy negotiation followed by slow and inadequate compliance, quite possibly on both sides.

    Jul 18, 2018

  • The Christophe de Margerie (R), an ice-class tanker fitted out to transport liquefied natural gas, is docked in Arctic port of Sabetta, Yamalo-Nenets district, Russia March 30, 2017

    Commentary

    Cooperation in the Arctic Likely to Continue—For Now

    Risks for serious tensions in the Arctic during the 2020s are likely to be overstated. Key players in the Arctic appear likely to continue working together to enhance the economic potential of the region and resolve conflicts before they emerge, as opportunities in the Arctic continue to grow.

    Jul 12, 2018