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

  • Iran's President Hassan Rouhani listens during a news conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, September 26, 2018, photo by Brendan McDermid

    Commentary

    The U.S. and Iran: Beyond the Rhetoric

    Since the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran, tensions between the two countries have increased. The United States has increased pressure on Iran in the hopes of reopening negotiations or ushering in the regime's collapse, while inside Iran, President Rouhani is facing pressure on how to respond.

    May 17, 2019

  • U.S. President Ronald Reagan (R) and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in the White House, Washington, DC, December 8, 1987, photo by Str Old/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Ronald Reagan Can Teach Us About Dealing with Contemporary Russia

    Politics loves its historical analogies and today, perhaps, there is no more common a comparison to the Trump presidency than the Reagan administration. Reagan's tenure was marked by his successful competition with the Soviet Union. Does Reagan provide a blueprint for triumphing over modern Russia?

    May 13, 2019

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a news conference in Baghdad, Iraq March 11, 2019, photo by Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can Anyone Save the Iran Nuclear Deal Now?

    Europe faces mounting pressure from both Tehran and Washington regarding the Iran nuclear deal. European countries could take steps to signal their commitment to upholding the deal, but doing so may alienate the United States.

    May 10, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi at the 2017 BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, September 5, 2017, photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Reuters/Pool

    Testimony

    Russia and China in the Middle East: A New Era of Strategic Competition

    Increased Russian and Chinese engagement in the Middle East in recent years underscores that America is in a new period of strategic competition. To prevail, the United States needs to have a vibrant and productive economy, to protect the international order, and to invest in its network of allies and partners.

    May 9, 2019

  • The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln conducts a replenishment-at-sea operation with other carrier group ships. The carrier group is now in the Red Sea earlier than planned at the direction of the White House, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman/U.S. Navy photo

    Commentary

    U.S., Iran Must Both Tread Lightly with Tensions Running So High

    Tensions between the United States and Iran have increased, raising concerns that they may be headed for war. But conflict is not inevitable. The United States and Iran could seek to re-establish communications channels, as well as look for available off-ramps to de-escalate tensions and keep the slightest misstep from spiraling into an all-out conflict.

    May 9, 2019

  • News Release

    Nonviolent Ways the United States Could Exploit Russian Vulnerabilities

    Russia's use of information warfare and its conventional military arsenal make it a formidable opponent, but the state also has significant weaknesses that could be exploited. A range of nonviolent measures could stress Russia's military, its economy, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Report

    Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground

    As the U.S. National Defense Strategy recognizes the United States is currently locked in a great-power competition with Russia. This report analyzes how the United States can compete to its own advantage and capitalize on Russia's weaknesses.

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Red Square in Moscow, Russia, photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

    Research Brief

    Ways the United States Could Overextend and Unbalance Russia

    Despite its vulnerabilities and anxieties, Russia remains a formidable opponent in a few key domains. What non-violent, cost-imposing measures could the United States pursue to stress Russia's economy, its military, and the regime's political standing at home and abroad?

    Apr 24, 2019

  • Chess pieces on a board, photo by phaisarn2517/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Yes, the U.S. Could Be Drawn Into Yet Another Big War

    The outcome of the Iraq invasion has done little to alter the factors that have led American leaders and the public into unwise military adventures. Today's big idea of America's mission is not so different from what it was in 2003. Any number of events could spark a new moral imperative to act.

    Apr 19, 2019

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018, photo by Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    A Warming Trend in China-Russia Relations

    The China-Russia relationship is indeed growing across military, economic, and political dimensions. But it is still more anchored in shared grievances than in common visions. Both countries contest U.S. interests, but in different ways. Washington should treat them as separate strategic challenges.

    Apr 18, 2019

  • Map of Ukraine, photo by omersukrugoksu/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Book Review: Ukraine and the Art of Strategy by Lawrence Freedman

    The crisis in Ukraine has proved a watershed moment for Russia's relations with the West. In Ukraine and the Art of Strategy, Lawrence Freedman presents a brief history of the conflict and analyzes it in the context of strategic theory.

    Apr 16, 2019

  • Three tiny satellites photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station, October 4, 2012, photo by NASA

    Commentary

    Space Safety Coordination: A Norm for All Nations

    As space becomes more congested with satellites of all sizes and types, the need for every nation to actively participate in the space safety coordination system grows. Most spacefaring countries participate, but a few countries do not—notably, Russia and China. That creates greater potential for collisions and hazards from debris.

    Apr 16, 2019

  • Children walk as they hold stacks of bread at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, April 2, 2019, photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

    Commentary

    When Are Economic Sanctions Worthwhile?

    For American policymakers, economic sanctions are too often the soft choice between doing nothing and taking effective but risky or expensive action. Yet, before they inflict years, perhaps decades of impoverishment and worse on entire populations, they should ask if their efforts are likely to succeed and are worth punishing an entire people to do so.

    Apr 15, 2019

  • Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2011, photo by Stringer Iran/Reuters

    Commentary

    The U.S. Designated the Revolutionary Guards as a Terrorist Group. What Happens Next?

    The U.S. designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization was meant to serve America's interests by isolating Iran. Instead, it may increase the likelihood of a tit-for-tat escalation that will require significant resources to avoid a broader regional conflagration.

    Apr 11, 2019

  • The Iron Throne on the set of the television series Game of Thrones in Belfast, Northern Ireland, June 24, 2014, photo by Phil Noble/Reuters

    Commentary

    'Game of Thrones' Reflections on International Relations

    As two RAND researchers join millions of others in eagerly awaiting the final season of Game of Thrones, they reflect on one of the show's central themes: rival views of the nature of power and justice.

    Apr 11, 2019

  • 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

    Testimony

    What the Demise of the INF Could Mean for Russia-China Relations

    The U.S.-Russia impasse and effective collapse in recent months of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) will likely affect Russia-China relations. The impact will depend on future U.S. and Russian decisions about INF missiles and on the broader dynamics in great-power relations.

    Apr 10, 2019

  • Christine Wormuth gives and overview of testimony presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on March 26, 2019.

    Multimedia

    The United States and Europe Since World War II: A Mutually Beneficial Partnership

    An overview of testimony by Christine Wormuth presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment on March 26, 2019.

    Mar 26, 2019

  • A U.S. soldier marches, followed by troops from various NATO countries, during a ceremony of the transfer of command in Herat, Afghanistan, May 31, 2005, photo by Ahmad Fahim/Reuters

    Testimony

    The U.S.-European Partnership Since World War II

    The relationship between the United States and Europe has advanced U.S. and global security since the end of World War II. The partnership has benefited the United States several times, including during the post-Cold War period, the years after the September 11 attacks, and the current era of strategic competition with Russia and China.

    Mar 26, 2019

  • Participants wave flags during Taiwan's National Day celebrations outside the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2010, photo by Nicky Loh/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Taiwan Diplomatic Victory Over China Could Be Inevitable

    It is likely that Taipei will lose diplomatic allies unless a cross-Strait agreement is reached on the 1992 Consensus. But it is perhaps equally inevitable that Taiwan will convince at least one or more states to recognize Taiwan over China. Such a development would help counter the narrative that Taiwan sovereignty is doomed.

    Mar 21, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, February 9, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Time to Speak Up About the South China Sea

    Some leaders in Southeast Asia may fear that new or enhanced postures in the South China Sea could antagonize China. But directly calling out China's breaks from the status quo or intimidation tactics may not necessarily put these countries at risk of Chinese countermeasures.

    Mar 20, 2019