International Diplomacy

Featured

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

  • Chessboard map with U.S. and China flag chess pieces

    Commentary

    Questioning the Presumption of a U.S.-China Power Transition

    The United States occupies the central role in a world order that, while under growing duress, remains a central organizing framework in world affairs. There are many trajectories along which U.S.-China relations might evolve if China aims to displace the United States for global pre-eminence.

    Jan 9, 2019

  • U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to deliver remarks on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) at a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2018

    Commentary

    The End of the End of History?

    The Trump administration has taken steps that represent a significant retreat from the norm-based, world order that the United States has championed since 1945. If this shift continues, what might be the impact?

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Two people shaking hands over a table with flags

    Commentary

    Economic Officers for the Future

    Economic officers must be, first of all, accomplished political officers. They should also have all the reporting, public speaking, and representational skills of any political or public diplomacy officer, coupled with a strong understanding of economic issues.

    Jan 7, 2019

  • Collage of 2018 most popular commentary images

    Blog

    Most Popular RAND Commentary of 2018

    RAND experts publish hundreds of pieces of commentary every year, weighing in on pressing policy questions, breaking down current events, and untangling complex trends. To look back on some of the policy stories that defined the year, we've rounded up the 10 RAND Blog pieces that resonated most with our readers.

    Dec 20, 2018

  • A train launched to operate on the Standard Gauge Railway line constructed by the China Road and Bridge Corporation and financed by Chinese government arrives at the Nairobi Terminus on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, May 31, 2017

    Commentary

    The Good and Bad of the Trump Administration's New Africa Strategy

    The Trump administration's Africa strategy combines a turn away from counterterrorism as a priority, emphasis on trade, and working to help Africans solve their own problems, all of which could be opportunities for a more positive relationship. The implied prioritization of great power competition, however, suggests the real risk of a return to Cold War-era approach.

    Dec 20, 2018

  • A 3D rendering of a chess board on a globe

    Report

    What Does the Emerging Era of International Competition Look Like?

    There is a general expectation of a new era of strategic competition, characterized by growing rivalry in the political, economic, and military spheres. But there is no consensus on what that means or what forms it could take. Theory and history can shed light on the coming era.

    Dec 19, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend a working dinner after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018

    Commentary

    The Trump-Xi Meeting at G-20: Kicking the Can Down the Road

    Much was expected of the discussion at the 2018 G-20 meeting in Buenos Aires between the United States and China on their ongoing trade war. However, nothing of significance emerged. With signs of a global economic slowdown surfacing earlier than expected, the failed outcomes of this meeting could come back to haunt world leaders.

    Dec 14, 2018

  • Chess pieces with U.S. and China flags superimposted on world map background

    Commentary

    Is This the Beginning of a New Cold War?

    It has become increasingly common for observers of world affairs to contend that the United States and China have either entered into or are poised to embark on a new Cold War. While the contours of a long-term contest between Washington and Beijing are undoubtedly forming, especially in the economic realm, the analogy is problematic.

    Dec 12, 2018

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Beijing, China, October 26, 2018

    Commentary

    Sino-Japan Rapprochement Will Likely Fail

    Recent meetings and otherwise relative calm between China and Japan may give the impression that their ties are improving. But because of their strategic competition and fundamental differences, it is more likely than not that their current rapprochement will fail.

    Dec 7, 2018

  • A Russian cargo ship beneath a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula after three Ukrainian navy vessels were stopped by Russia from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea, Crimea, November 25, 2018

    Commentary

    No Russian Let-Up on Ukraine

    Moscow's seizure of Crimea and war in eastern Ukraine have led the West to sanction Russians and expand aid to Ukraine, and NATO to shift land and air forces eastward. Expanded Russian coercion may draw more NATO naval power closer to Russia's shores and lead to tougher sanctions.

    Dec 7, 2018

  • Senators Marco Rubio (left) and Jim Risch speak at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, June 13, 2017

    Commentary

    Congress Can Save Arms Control

    The Trump administration is seeking agreements with North Korea and Iran to eliminate their nuclear arms potential. Success may hinge on cooperation between the White House and Congress.

    Nov 27, 2018

  • Senior military officials watch a parade at the main Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 9, 2018

    Commentary

    How America Can Test North Korea's True Intentions

    While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has suggested he may be prepared to abandon his nuclear ambitions, there has been no proof that he is serious. The United States could take steps to discover Kim's true intentions.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un leads the testing of a newly developed tactical weapon in this undated photo released on November 16, 2018

    Commentary

    Why North Korea Sanctions Relief Is Inappropriate at This Time

    In early 2018, Kim Jong Un signaled that he was ready to negotiate abandoning North Korea's nuclear weapons with the United States. But since then, Pyongyang hasn't taken steps to denuclearize. The DPRK's actions speak louder than its words.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • L-R Chinese Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe, Chinese Communist Party Office of Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hold a joint news conference at the U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., November 9, 2018

    Commentary

    U.S.-China Relations See Potential Thaw, but Risk of Military Crisis Remains

    Deep disagreements between China and the United States on an array of issues, exacerbated by political incentives to avoid compromise, raise a persistent risk of military crisis. Stepping up official communication, building mechanisms to manage crises, and dialing back antagonistic behavior could help cut the risk of miscalculation and help stabilize ties.

    Nov 20, 2018

  • The Ilyushin Il-96 aircraft transporting expelled Russian diplomats and their family members from the U.S., shortly after landing at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow, Russia, April 1, 2018

    Commentary

    Effective Responses to Russian Misbehavior

    Sanctions on Russians can be a powerful and effective tool, but in some cases there is a risk of spillover damage to other United States interests. It is worth considering whether America's interests may be best served by ensuring that penalties applied to Russia for misbehavior hit home against those responsible for it.

    Nov 20, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 20, 2018

    Commentary

    Could America Use Its Leverage to Alter the Saudis' Behavior?

    As the Saudis' chief political and military partner and the undisputed security guarantor in the Middle East, the United States has considerable influence it can wield over Saudi decisionmaking. The Trump administration could consider using its influence to encourage Saudi leadership to moderate its assertive and damaging policies abroad.

    Nov 15, 2018

  • South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attend a farewell ceremony at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018

    Multimedia

    Potential Paths to Korean Unification

    In this Call with the Experts podcast, RAND senior international/defense researcher Bruce Bennett discusses several potential paths to Korean unification. Lisa Sodders and Khorshied Samad from the RAND Office of Media Relations moderate.

    Nov 14, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017

    Commentary

    What Does America's Political Polarization Mean for Competition with China?

    Political polarization in the United States potentially carries significant implications for America's strategic competition with China. Leaders in Washington will need to work to mitigate the effects of polarization and manage competition with China in a stable, effective manner.

    Nov 9, 2018

  • News Release

    A Study of Potential Paths to Korean Unification Recommends Avoiding Approaches Involving Armed Conflict

    An examination of nine potential paths to Korean unification recommends actions that the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea) and the United States can take to set the conditions for stable reunification, should the opportunity arise.

    Oct 31, 2018

  • People attend a march for peace, prosperity, and reunification of Korea near the Arch of Reunification in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released September 12, 2018 by the Korean Central News Agency

    Report

    Alternative Paths to Korean Unification

    There are many ways in which Korean unification could occur or be attempted, and each holds vast uncertainties. What actions could South Korea and the United States take to set the conditions for stable reunification?

    Oct 31, 2018