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.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, June 18, 2020, photo by Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Reuters

    Commentary

    Abe's Resignation Could Leave Japan Less Secure—and Destabilize Its U.S. Alliance

    Under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's leadership, Japan tightened its alliance with the United States and took on a more proactive role in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. His resignation could very well leave Japan less secure and the U.S.-Japan alliance unstable.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets with Palauan President Tommy Remengesau in Koror, Palau, August 27, 2020, photo by Jim Garamone/U.S. Department of Defense

    Commentary

    America Is Betting Big on the Second Island Chain

    The United States has deep and abiding interests in the Second Island Chain. But China's growing influence in the region could complicate U.S. plans. Washington will almost certainly seek to strengthen security cooperation with Pacific Island states in the Second Island Chain and bolster defensive positions on U.S. territories in the region.

    Sep 8, 2020

  • Report

    Report

    The Future of Warfare Boxed Set

    This series of reports examines the key geopolitical, economic, environmental, geographic, legal, informational, and military trends that will shape the contours of conflict between now and 2030.

    Aug 26, 2020

  • U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar meets with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office, in Taipei, Taiwan, August 10, 2020, photo courtesy of the Taiwan Presidential Office

    Commentary

    Secretary Azar's Taiwan Visit Should Be Celebrated—for the Right Reasons

    HHS Secretary Alex Azar's August 9th visit to Taiwan should be celebrated by Taipei and Washington as it presents the latest evidence that bilateral relations are significantly strengthening. But Taiwan should view the United States' moves to bolster bilateral ties with some measure of trepidation. U.S. objectives with Taiwan over the past few years remain unclear.

    Aug 21, 2020

  • Blog

    Radicalization, the Gender Pay Gap, Israel-UAE Deal: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the potential for a new era of radicalization, insights into the gender pay gap, why the Israel-UAE deal doesn't merit the hype, and more.

    Aug 21, 2020

  • Israeli and Emirati flags flutter along a highway following the agreement to formalize ties between the two countries, Netanya, Israel, August 17, 2020, photo by Nir Elias/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Israel-UAE Deal Doesn't Merit the Hype

    Some have called the Israel-UAE normalization agreement a geopolitical earthquake. But the hyperbole is not warranted; this deal is unlikely to be a strategic game changer in the Middle East.

    Aug 18, 2020

  • Protestors gather in Minsk, Belarus, to demand the resignation of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the release of political prisoners, August 16, 2020, photo by Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    The West's Role in Belarus

    Belarus may be on the verge of political change. If allowed to help, how could the West support free and fair elections and the formation of a legitimate government?

    Aug 18, 2020

  • Russian Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jets perform during a demonstration flight at the MAKS-2019 air show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, Russia, August 29, 2019, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Su-57 Heavy Fighter Bomber: Is It Really a Fifth-Generation Aircraft?

    Russia's Su-57 aircraft has been in development since 2002 and is considered a key part of Russia's arms export industry as a fifth-generation fighter. Despite continued Russian efforts to sell the aircraft, it is unlikely that a fully developed and full production–ready Su-57 will be available for sale before the late 2020s.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • A missile is seen launched during a military drill in North Korea, May 10, 2019, photo by Korean Central News Agency via Reuters

    Commentary

    In North Korea, The U.S. Could Take the Lead

    North Korea is hurting: its economy is stagnant and it is having trouble feeding even its elites because of the UN/U.S. sanctions designed to pressure North Korean toward denuclearization. A combined carrot and stick approach may help overcome some of North Korea's reluctance to negotiate the future of its nuclear weapons program.

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Russian Air Force Su-25 jets perform during the rehearsal for the Victory Day parade, with the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the foreground, in Moscow, Russia, May 4, 2018

    Commentary

    Has Congress Captured Russia Policy?

    A Washington axiom is that the president writes foreign policy and Congress only edits it. But in recent years Congress has shown more initiative, as in expanding sanctions, shifting U.S. forces closer to Russia and promoting human rights. Under the next president, is Congress likely to retain this lead?

    Aug 17, 2020

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and his entourage meet with Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran, January 23, 2016, photo by Khamenei.ir / CC BY 4.0

    Commentary

    What to Watch to Understand the Sino-Iranian Relationship

    Beijing and Tehran are in the process of finalizing an ambitious partnership covering a range of security and economic issues. The United States should not overreact to shifting geopolitical dynamics in the Middle East, and should instead keep an eye out to assess the evolution of the relationship and take stock of what is delivered instead of what is merely promised.

    Aug 13, 2020

  • Blog

    Preparing for a COVID-19 Election, Hurricane Response, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on preparing for a COVID-19 election, how the pandemic is affecting artists, North Korea's deadly artillery, and more.

    Aug 7, 2020

  • President Donald J. Trump visits Vietnam, November 11, 2017, photo by Shealah Craighead/White House

    Commentary

    What Does Vietnam Think About America's Indo-Pacific Strategy?

    The South China Sea is where the rubber meets the road for U.S.-Vietnam security ties, and in this regard, Hanoi has gone as far as it is comfortable. Washington should expect Vietnam to continue seeking balance between China, which has economic and military superiority over it, and the United States, which can help offset Chinese power.

    Aug 5, 2020

  • The U.N. Security Council's five permanent members (P5) attend a Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons conference in Beijing, China, January 30, 2019, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

    Commentary

    Negotiating with Great Powers on Nuclear Arms

    New START, the U.S.-Russia arms control treaty, expires in February 2021. Washington insists that any follow-on accord must include China. But overcoming Beijing's reticence to engage in nuclear talks will likely take deft diplomacy, time, and patience.

    Aug 3, 2020

  • Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Vladimir Putin of Russia arrive for a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, September 16, 2019, photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Commentary

    Can America Weaken the Russia-Iran Axis?

    America's slow-motion retreat in Syria could embolden Iran and Russia and perhaps lead them to underestimate U.S. resolve to protect its interests in the Middle East. Clearer U.S. priorities and more deliberate engagement could reduce risk and help avoid miscalculation.

    Jul 31, 2020

  • Blog

    China in 2050, Using Mobile Tools to Track COVID-19, Telemedicine: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the future of U.S.-China competition, privacy concerns surrounding mobile tools used to track COVID-19, how telemedicine can help patients access specialized care, and more.

    Jul 31, 2020

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video conference call with members of the Security Council at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia June 4, 2020, photo by Alexei Nikolsky/Reuters

    Report

    When and How Will the Putin Era End?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin could extend his presidency until 2036. Whatever he decides, U.S. officials should prepare for the future succession by sending clear signals on policy redlines and studying Russian elite attitudes. The choice of a successor will fundamentally affect U.S. foreign and security policy.

    Jul 28, 2020

  • India's prime minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, during a bilateral meeting in Osaka, Japan, June 27, 2019, photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Quad Is Poised to Become Openly Anti-China Soon

    What has been striking about the Quad thus far is that it has resisted openly identifying China as the primary target it seeks to rein in. But if the Quad is to be sustained, then it will likely have to come to grips with a forward-leaning approach to opposing Chinese activities.

    Jul 28, 2020

  • North Korean and South Korean Flags

    Multimedia

    Rising Tensions Between the Two Koreas

    RAND policy analyst Soo Kim describes how the United States, South Korea, and Japan might respond to North Korea's recent provocations.

    Jul 27, 2020

  • Big data concept, global communication networks of planet earth. Data storage system. 3D illustration of Artificial Intelligence. Elements of this image are furnished by NASA, photo by NASA/Siarhei/AdobeStock

    Report

    Whose Story Wins: Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft

    Noopolitik, which favors the use of "soft power," is a new concept for adapting U.S. grand strategy to the information age. What are some new ways to fight back? And how might the future of noopolitik depend on what happens to the global commons?

    Jul 27, 2020