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.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

    Commentary

    What's the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually

    Despite the way it is commonly portrayed, diplomacy is not intrinsically and always good, nor is it cost-free. In the Ukraine conflict, the problems with a push for diplomacy are especially apparent. The likely benefits of negotiations are minimal, and the prospective costs could be significant.

    Nov 22, 2022

  • U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova visit Borodianka, in the Kyiv Region, Ukraine, June 4, 2022, photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    Commentary

    Do Americans Know Who Their Diplomats Are? Or What They Do?

    Americans have a limited understanding of how diplomats are selected and how diplomacy interacts with other elements of the U.S. national security establishment. Efforts to better inform and engage the American public about the work of diplomacy and who American diplomats are would lead to a greater understanding of the job and its people.

    Jun 20, 2022

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Signing of Treaty on Outer Space in May, 1964, photo by United Nations/ CC BY-SA 2.0

    Commentary

    Reduce Friction in Space by Amending the 1967 Outer Space Treaty

    Space has the potential to be a domain in which current great-power competitions and frictions can be mediated. The international community might consider updating the existing space legal regime to ensure it meets current political, economic, social, and technical challenges.

    Aug 26, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Diversity in the Military, Telemedicine Abortion, China and Taiwan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the benefits of increasing and maintaining diversity in the armed forces, the challenges of telemedicine abortion, whether Indo-Pacific countries are backing China or Taiwan, and more.

    Aug 26, 2022

  • U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi attends a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at the presidential office in Taipei, August 3, 2022, photo courtesy of Taiwan Presidential Office/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    The Indo-Pacific Mostly Backs 'One China,' but Taiwan Gets Some Love, Too

    Almost the entire Indo-Pacific region backs China over Taiwan. But U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August trip to Taiwan made it clear that key U.S. allies strongly support Taiwan's cause, particularly in the face of a potential war over the island. This suggests that Beijing's assertive behavior is steadily alienating nations that otherwise may have minded their own business.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Russian service members stand guard at the Nagurskoye military base in Alexandra Land on the Arctic islands of Franz Josef Land, Russia, March 29, 2017, photo by Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

    Commentary

    How the Russian Invasion of Ukraine May Impact the Arctic

    The United States and its Arctic partners suspended cooperation with Russia at the Arctic Council in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. The prospect of returning to the council's business as usual seems very far away.

    Aug 22, 2022

  • Workers make parts for pneumatic guns at one of the eight manufacturers licensed by the Ministry of Public Security in Qingliu county, Fujian province, China, May 26, 2022, photo by Hu Guolin/FeatureChina via AP Images, Workers make parts for pneumatic guns at one of the eight manufa

    Tool

    Where Has China Sent Weapons and Security Contractors?

    China exported weapons to 38 countries from 2018 to 2021. It also exported private security contractors to protect and secure its interests in other countries, such as mining facilities and ports. A map of the exports shows China's expansive influence across Asia and Africa and into Latin America.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • Russian service members ride an armoured vehicle in the Russian-held part of the Zaporizhzhia region, Ukraine, July 23, 2022, photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

    Commentary

    Understanding Russia's Motivations, and Using Them

    The concept of ontological security could help explain Putin's war on Ukraine and his regime's reasoning. It's about maintaining a continuous sense of self, and in this case, of state identity. Putin may have deemed the invasion necessary to maintain a sense of continuity and order, where order is Russia's continued adversarial relationship with the West.

    Aug 19, 2022

  • A Ukrainian army officer looks at a destroyed SS-24 missile silo near the town of Pervomaisk, Ukraine, October 30, 2001, photo by Gleb Garanich CVI/CLH//Reuters

    Commentary

    How Russia's Nuclear Double Cross of Ukraine Teaches Dangerous Lessons

    Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the West's support for Kyiv has been tempered by an ace up Vladimir Putin's sleeve: the potential use of nuclear weapons. But other countries are taking notice, which could imperil world stability even further.

    Aug 16, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden, alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, Swedish Ambassador to the U.S. Karin Olofsdotter and Finnish Ambassador to the U.S. Mikko Hautala, signs documents endorsing Finland's and Sweden's accession to NATO, at the White House, in Washington, D.C., August 9, 2022, photo by Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

    Commentary

    Finnish and Swedish NATO Membership: Toward a Larger, Stronger, Smarter Alliance

    Finland and Sweden are poised to become full NATO members in the near future. The Nordic pair's entry into NATO means that alliance leaders and planners confront new challenges, and just as many opportunities.

    Aug 12, 2022

  • The International Space Station, November 25, 2009, photo by NASA

    Commentary

    Russia's Withdrawal from the ISS: Another Sign of Its Space Decline?

    Russia's threatened exit from the International Space Station could simply be more bluster from Moscow at a time of heightened tension between Russia and the West over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But it also appears to be another signal that Russia's profile in space is in decline, a trend that is likely to continue and that the United States could be preparing for now.

    Aug 4, 2022

  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Kiribati's President Taneti Maamau shake hands during a signing ceremony in Beijing, China, January 6, 2020, photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Pool/Reuters

    Testimony

    China's Gambit in the Pacific

    The geostrategic dynamics between China, the Pacific Island countries, and the United States and its allies and partners have evolved over the years. What are China's strategic goals for the region? And how could the United States improve its profile as China continues to try to enhance its own?

    Aug 3, 2022

  • A Taliban fighter stands guard near the site where Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. strike over the weekend, in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2022, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    After the al-Zawahiri Strike, the U.S. May Lack Capabilities in Afghanistan

    The U.S. drone strike that killed al Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan took out one of the last remaining key figures behind the 9/11 terror attacks. But it also highlighted how little the United States got out of its 2020 bargain with the Taliban, and raised questions about the U.S. ability to adequately monitor the developing threat from this quarter going forward.

    Aug 3, 2022

  • Ukrainian troops using advanced U.S. M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to attack Russian targets near Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, July 4,2022, photo by Armed Forces of Ukraine/Cover Im via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Could U.S. Weapons Assistance to Ukraine Lead to Russian Escalation?

    The United States and its allies should certainly continue providing Ukraine with the matériel it needs, but they should also—in close consultation with Kyiv—begin opening channels of communication with Russia. An eventual cease-fire should be the goal, even as the path to it remains uncertain.

    Aug 1, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Talking to Russia, Racial Bias, Mine-Hunting Dolphins: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on preventing escalation of the war in Ukraine, how racial bias compounds over time, why the Navy should stick with its mine-hunting dolphins, and more.

    Jul 29, 2022

  • A suited man's hand reaching for the receiver of a red phone, photo by urbancow/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Another 'Hotline' with China Isn't the Answer

    While well-intentioned, another U.S.-PRC hotline would give false hope that the two countries would resolve disputes more rapidly during a crisis. The United States is better off changing its expectations, understanding how the PRC views crisis communications, and shifting the focus to the internal, inter-agency process by which U.S. policymakers would coordinate in a crisis with Beijing.

    Jul 27, 2022

  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris virtually addresses the Pacific Islands Forum leaders summit in Suva, Fiji, July 13, 2022, photo by Ben McKay/AAPIMAGE via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    China's Pacific Push Is Backfiring

    Beijing has had only limited success in spreading its influence in the Pacific, with the notable exceptions of the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. To be sure, other victories should be expected to follow. The overall picture, however, is far more challenging for China.

    Jul 26, 2022

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, before a meeting in Beijing, China, April 25, 2019, photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    China's Military Aid Is Probably Less Than You Think

    The first comprehensive assessment of Chinese military aid shows that China's $560 million total during 2013–2018 pales in comparison to the U.S. total of over $35 billion in the same period. This should offer advantages in the intensifying U.S.-China strategic competition.

    Jul 26, 2022

  • Research Brief

    Research Brief

    The Sources of Societal Competitiveness: How Nations Actually Succeed in Long-Term Rivalries

    Seven characteristics are consistently associated with national dynamism and competitive position. This brief summarizes the relationship between a nation's social condition and its global standing and applies the lessons to the United States today.

    Jul 18, 2022

  • Hanging lightbulb with connecting dots in foreground, many hanging lightbulbs out of focus in background, photo by onurdongel/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Embracing Intrinsic Cultural Advantages in Innovation

    The United States has long enjoyed the benefits of novel technology, but it could lose ground soon as other countries advance. Could it be time for the United States to embrace the advantages in innovation that it holds relative to near-peers like China?

    Jul 15, 2022

  • Smoke rises from a residential building after shelling from Russian positions in northern Kharkiv as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 31, 2022, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

    Commentary

    Obstacles to Lasting Peace Between Ukraine and Russia

    The current situation in Ukraine suggests that neither side will be able to achieve a decisive military victory that settles the disputes that led to the war. Ukraine and Russia theoretically could reach an agreement to stop the fighting, but the politics between the two sides and centuries of confrontational history do not suggest a lasting peace.

    Jul 7, 2022

  • South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.S. President Joe Biden arrive for a state dinner at the National Museum of Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, May 21, 2022, photo by Lee Jin-man/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Yoon Suk-yeol Is Biden's Perfect South Korea Partner

    Yoon Suk-yeol, South Korea's conservative new president, has shown that he is in lockstep with U.S. President Joe Biden on foreign policy. During Biden's Indo-Pacific trip in May, their conversations in the security domain suggest Yoon's overlapping tenure with Biden heralds a golden era in the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

    Jul 5, 2022