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.

  • Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, June 2, 2021, photo by U.S. Embassy Bangkok

    Commentary

    Biden's Troubled Southeast Asia Policy Needs a Reboot

    Jul 6, 2021

    Nearly six months into Joe Biden's presidency, it is now possible to begin assessing the effectiveness of some of his administration's policies. When it comes to Southeast Asia, the Biden administration has thus far fallen short, but the future looks relatively bright with certain caveats.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • 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

    The upcoming U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan will remove the most formidable obstacle to total Taliban takeover of the country. China is set to benefit significantly if the Taliban come to power again. It is 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 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

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un take a walk in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this picture released by KCNA on June 21, 2019, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    Can China Be a Real Partner in Bringing North Korea to the Nuclear Negotiating Table?

    The United States remains committed to the goal of denuclearization of North Korea. China is more interested in maintaining a delicate geopolitical balance to counter U.S. influence in the region and in expanding its own reach. Thus, prospects for productive U.S.-China cooperation on the North Korean nuclear threat seem faint at best.

    Jul 14, 2021

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects a long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in an undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency, May 15, 2017, photo by KCNA via Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korean Nuclear Weapons Pose an Existential Threat to China

    Despite the current border closures between their two countries, China and North Korea remain resolutely pledged to a “blood-alliance.” But this partnership has vastly different implications depending on which side of the border you consider.

    Jul 13, 2021

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping waves at an event marking the 100th founding anniversary of the CCP, in Tiananmen Square, in Beijing, China, July 1, 2021, photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Xi Jinping's Communist Party Valedictory Speech Can Tell Us About His Conception of China and Its Role in the World

    On July 1, Xi Jinping commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party by laying out a vision of China's future. What can Xi's speech, redolent with imagery of righteous struggle against foreign oppressors, tell us about where China's top leader sees his country's relationship with the world heading?

    Jul 7, 2021

  • Blog

    Pandemic-Era Parties, China's Global Influence, Reducing Infant Mortality: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on assessing the risk of small gatherings during the pandemic, China's ability to exert influence around the world, using big data to help reduce infant mortality, and more.

    Jul 2, 2021

  • Earth partially covered by Chinese Yuan, image by Stephen Finn/Adobe Stock

    Report

    China's Drive for Power and Influence Around the World

    An analysis of China's ability to use various mechanisms of influence to shape the policies and behavior of 20 countries finds that its economic power is the foundation for its influence. What lessons do these examples offer the United States and how should it respond?

    Jun 30, 2021

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army soldiers demonstrate their capabilities to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen in China, July 12, 2011, photo by MC1 Chad J. McNeeley/Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

    Commentary

    The Signal and the Noise: Understanding China's Military Threats

    Although China's capabilities and communication channels have changed, its fundamental approach to military deterrence signaling as a form of political coercion has not. As Australia-China relations enter a new, more confrontational era, Canberra is likely to be an increasingly frequent target of Chinese deterrence signaling.

    Jun 29, 2021

  • A supporter of Ebrahim Raisi displays his portrait during a celebratory rally for his presidential election victory in Tehran, Iran, June 19, 2021, photo by Majid Asgaripour/WANA (West Asia News Agency) via Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Iran May Be in No Hurry to Get Nuclear Weapons Even Without a Nuclear Deal

    History shows that many countries with advanced nuclear technologies but without nuclear bombs opt to stay that way. There are reasons to believe that Iran, too, may choose to remain non-nuclear at least in the foreseeable future.

    Jun 28, 2021

  • Blog

    RAND Art + Data, 'Gray Market Care,' Supply Chains and Cyberattacks: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on RAND's new artist residency program, Art + Data; the prevalence of “gray market care” in the United States; supply chains' cyber problem; and more.

    Jun 25, 2021

  • A journalist sits next to a screen showing Chinese President Xi Jinping delivering a speech via video for the opening ceremony of the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS), at a media centre in Beijing, China September 4, 2020, photo by Tingshu Wang/Reuters

    Report

    How to Manage the Changing U.S.-China Relationship

    The complexity of the strategic competition between the United States and China, two countries that remain key trading partners and occasionally cooperate against shared threats, suggests the need for a sophisticated and careful strategy to navigate potential perils and protect U.S. interests.

    Jun 22, 2021

  • Paper plane race against a rocket missile, photo by ALLVISIONN/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Difficult Choices in the Race to Innovate and Compete

    Senate passage of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act recognizes the fierce competition across the globe for leadership in key technology areas. The potential for such a momentous national investment in resources and attention brings with it options and choices for policymakers to consider.

    Jun 21, 2021

  • Blog

    Stress Among U.S. Teachers, Russia's Global Interests, Investing in Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on job-related stress among U.S. public school teachers, Russia's global interests, promoting social equity through infrastructure investments, and more.

    Jun 18, 2021

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a meeting via video link from the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, December 21, 2020, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia Engine Troubles: Is Putin's Behavior Catching Up with Him?

    Actions taken to curb Russian malign activities around the globe appear to be affecting Russia's marine and aerospace engine sector. Efforts to arrest Russia's bad behavior might gain momentum if more countries followed the lead of Norway, which chose supporting sanctions over short-term economic gain.

    Jun 15, 2021

  • Russian President Putin addresses the audience during Moscow City Day celebrations in Moscow, Russia, September 5, 2020, photo by Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

    Report

    Confronting a More Globally Active Russia

    For the last 25 years, Russia has been focused on regaining the ability to influence actions beyond its own region. Recognizing Russia's global interests could help the United States implement its own global strategy.

    Jun 15, 2021

  • Workers at the construction site of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, near the town of Kingisepp, Leningrad region, Russia, June 5, 2019, photo by Anton Vaganov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Depoliticizing Russian Gas in Europe

    At their June 16 Summit in Geneva, Presidents Biden and Putin might consider how to reduce the sharp tensions over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Cooperation among governments and companies may offer potential.

    Jun 11, 2021

  • Russian Pantsir-SA missile and artillery weapon systems drive during the Victory Day Parade in Red Square in Moscow, Russia June 24, 2020, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Project

    Russia's Means of Global Influence

    Russia seeks to influence global policy through arms sales, the use of private military contractors, political interventions, social media and disinformation campaigns, and military force. A RAND project examines the workings of these levers of influence.

    Jun 11, 2021