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.

  • Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign event in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, June 25, 2020, photo by Mark Makela/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Biden Can't Turn Back the Clock on the Iran Nuclear Deal

    Mar 1, 2021

    Enacted in 2016, the Iran nuclear deal was predicated on a geopolitical context that no longer exists. Addressing Iran's nuclear program today may require a different solution.

  • The guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) transit the South China Sea, February 9, 2021, photo by MC3 Cheyenne Geletka/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Biden's China Reset Is Already on the Ropes

    Mar 15, 2021

    The prospects of a U.S.-China reset are rapidly fading, and both sides bear some measure of responsibility. Beijing has refused to change its own assertive behavior. And all signs thus far point to a Biden administration that plans to take an exceptionally hard line against China.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Taiwan Vice President-elect William Lai and incumbent Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen celebrate at a rally after their election victory in Taipei, Taiwan, January 11, 2020, photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

    Commentary

    Where Does China's 'One Country, Two Systems' Stand in 2020?

    Hong Kong and Macau live under “one country, two systems,” and China aspires to include Taiwan in the future as well. But President Tsai Ing-wen's landslide re-election in Taiwan on January 11 resoundingly demonstrates that the arrangement is dead on arrival there.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin uses a pair of binoculars while overseeing the military exercises known as "Centre-2019" in Orenburg Region, Russia September 20, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    Jumpstarting Arms Control Talks with Russia: A Low-Risk Gambit

    In 2019, Russia proposed a moratorium on missile deployments in Europe. If the United States does not accept, it could increase the threat to NATO allies and provide Moscow with more bargaining chips in future arms negotiations.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • President Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu hold a joint news conference to discuss the Peace to Prosperity proposal in Washington, January 28, 2020, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Commentary

    Peace with the Region Is Not a Peace Plan

    Acceptance of Israel from the broader Arab world will not resolve the dilemma of how the Israelis and the Palestinians can agree to live on the same land together. A viable plan for the future, one that is about real peace and not a one-sided political gambit, must recognize these realities.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev exchange the signed new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) at Prague Castle in Prague, April 8, 2010, photo by Petr Josek/Reuters

    Commentary

    Stabilizing the Nuclear Cold War

    Russia and the United States are still locked in a nuclear cold war. Thousands of nuclear weapons are deployed, some on high alert. Although the United States prudently withdrew from several past arms control treaties with Russia, it could be in America's interest to extend New START.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • Announcement

    Announcement

    New RAND Center to Analyze Options for U.S. Grand Strategy

    RAND is launching the Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy to advance the debate on American foreign policy by tackling key unresolved theoretical, empirical, and policy questions. The center will address analytical gaps so that policymakers may consider fully developed options for U.S. grand strategy.

    Feb 12, 2020

  • Blog

    Community Schools, Brexit, Coronavirus: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the promise of community schools, the costs of uncertainty after Brexit, the coronavirus, and more.

    Jan 31, 2020

  • Icebergs and ice in the Arctic Sea, photo by Explora_2005/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Today's Arctic Diplomacy Can't Handle Tomorrow's Problems

    The international structures that have helped address many Arctic problems through negotiation and cooperation are insufficient for the military and security challenges brought on by climate change. A new forum is needed to address military and security issues in the region.

    Jan 29, 2020

  • U.S. and China flags inside gears with a third gear with a question mark inside, photo by

    Commentary

    The Real U.S.-China Competition: Theories of Influence

    Strategic competition between the United States and China has come to dominate U.S. foreign policy debates. That competition is multifaceted, but it may turn on a basic question: Which country has a more sustainable concept of national influence?

    Jan 29, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 19, 2019, photo by Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

    Report

    What Provokes Putin's Russia?

    Even with an understanding of what Russia considers to be redlines, predicting its reactions is challenging. An analysis of past instances of Russian escalation—and instances when redlines were crossed but Russia did not respond—offers guidance for U.S. and NATO deterrence efforts.

    Jan 29, 2020

  • Ariane Tabatabai

    Multimedia

    Escalation with Iran: Outcomes and Implications for U.S. Interests and Regional Stability

    An overview of testimony by Ariane Tabatabai presented before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa, and International Terrorism on January 28, 2020.

    Jan 28, 2020

  • A woman signs a condolence book for Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani at the Iranian embassy in Minsk, Belarus, January 10, 2020, photo by Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

    Testimony

    Escalation with Iran: Outcomes and Implications for the United States

    In the aftermath of the killing of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the United States should be prepared for a further response from Iran. What are some courses of action the regime might take? And what are options for the United States moving forward?

    Jan 28, 2020

  • A projectile is fired during North Korea's missile tests in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 28, 2019, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Japan's North Korea Challenge in 2020

    North Korea began 2020 by announcing a shift toward a more hard-line foreign policy approach. While this is bad news for all countries in the region, it is particularly unwelcome for Japan.

    Jan 27, 2020

  • Gulbahar Jelilova, an ethnic Uighur activist from Kazakhstan, poses for a photograph in Istanbul, Turkey, November 16, 2018, photo by Murad Sezer/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Washington Could Make Beijing Listen on Xinjiang

    In autonomous Xinjiang, at least one million ethnic Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities have been incarcerated by the Chinese government. What can the United States and its allies do to help defuse this humanitarian crisis?

    Jan 17, 2020

  • Blog

    U.S.-Turkish Relations, Airports, Opioids: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the future of the U.S.-Turkish partnership, helping America's commercial airports meet rising demand, the opioid crisis, and more.

    Jan 17, 2020

  • China Coast Guard ship seen from an Indonesian Naval ship during a patrol at Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone sea north of the Natuna Islands, Indonesia, January 11, 2020, photo by M Risyal Hidayat/Antara Foto Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Is China Pressing Indonesia Again Over Its Maritime Claims?

    China sparked a major maritime confrontation with Indonesia near the South China Sea in December when dozens of Chinese fishing vessels, along with a coast guard escort, entered waters off the Natuna Islands. What drove Beijing to stake out its sovereignty claims against Indonesia at this particular time? And what can Indonesia and other regional neighbors expect of Chinese behavior going forward?

    Jan 16, 2020

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the attempted coup at the presidential palace in Ankara, July 15, 2018, photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Report

    Turkey's Nationalist Course and How It Affects U.S.-Turkish Relations

    America's longstanding partnership with Turkey, a powerful NATO ally, has become strained in recent years. The two countries' interests are not as aligned as they once were, and tensions between Turkey and Europe have exacerbated these strains. What can be done to sustain the U.S.-Turkish relationship?

    Jan 14, 2020

  • Security personnel stand guard near a "Golden Bridge on Silk Road" decoration for the Belt and Road Forum outside the China National Convention Center in Beijing, China, April 25, 2019, photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Commentary

    China's Footprint in Europe

    Tensions between Washington and Brussels may be helping China find a more receptive audience for its Belt and Road initiative. One of the central challenges for the United States and Europe will be to forge a more united approach to China's resurgence.

    Jan 13, 2020

  • Blog

    Iran, Mental Health and Jail, Russia: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Iran and Iraq following the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, supporting those experiencing mental illness in jails, Russia's hostile measures, and more.

    Jan 10, 2020

  • An Iranian mourner holds a picture of late General Qassem Soleimani as people gather to mourn him in Tehran, Iran, January 4, 2020, photo by Nazanin Tabatabaee/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Reuters

    Commentary

    How Will Iran Respond to Soleimani's Killing—and Where Will the Escalation End?

    Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani's death will reverberate in the Middle East region for a long time. The United States must know its end game and be able to respond to this changing landscape of its own making, without stumbling into another full-fledged conflict that the Trump administration itself, Congress, and the American people have said they do not want.

    Jan 7, 2020

  • Members of Iraqi security forces in front of U.S. Embassy during a protest, in Baghdad, Iraq, January 1, 2020, photo by Khalid Al Mousily/Reuters

    Commentary

    Baghdad Siege Wasn't Benghazi, and Never Will Be

    Given the heightened tension between the United States and Iran and the ongoing instability in Iraq, the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad may very well be attacked again. If such an attack were to be successful, it would be more akin to the fall of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon than the U.S. mission in Benghazi.

    Jan 6, 2020