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.

  • South Korean President Moon Jae In attends a meeting with senior advisers at the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea on August 24, 2020, photo by Blue House/Handout/Latin America

    Commentary

    What Does South Korea Herald for the Biden Administration?

    Dec 4, 2020

    South Korea appears to be running on all cylinders to build relations with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with President Moon Jae-in and his team busy issuing public statements and arranging high-level meetings with key players in the incoming administration. What can the Biden administration expect from South Korea on critical foreign policy issues?

  • President-elect Biden announces his key health team nominees and appointees in Wilmington, DE, December 8, 2020, photo by CNP/InStar/Cover Images/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Biden's Africa Strategy Might Look Like

    Dec 10, 2020

    Biden's election may present Washington with a welcome opportunity to reset its relationship with sub-Saharan Africa. It could behoove U.S. policymakers to engage with the region to ensure that the United States will be positioned to take full advantage of whatever opportunities arise, and, when necessary, do whatever might be possible to avert unfavorable outcomes.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • USA flag over NYC skyline, photo by franckreporter/Getty Images

    Commentary

    The Lost Generation in American Foreign Policy

    Throughout the 55 years following World War II, successive U.S. administrations racked up major foreign policy successes at an average rate of about once a year. Since 2001, the pace of foreign policy achievement has fallen to once every four years. The result has been a lost generation in American foreign policy.

    Sep 15, 2020

  • Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy warships and fighter jets take part in a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018

    Commentary

    America's Indo-Pacific Vision Is Becoming a Reality—Because of China

    The Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy has received a significant boost in recent months toward achieving its goal of keeping the region “free and open” from Chinese coercion. Ironically, China itself has been doing the boosting.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani and Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, special envoy of the foreign minister of Qatar are seen during talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, September 12, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Islamic State in Afghanistan Is Down, but Not Out

    The Afghan Taliban is on the verge of entering into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government in a peace deal facilitated by the United States. Washington seems to be holding out hope that the deal will stabilize the country. But the Islamic State Khorasan Province remains a concern. The Islamic State in Afghanistan may be down, but it's not out.

    Sep 14, 2020

  • A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea, April 12, 2018, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Journal Article

    Winning Friends and Influencing People: Naval Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

    This report provides an overview of the PLAN's approach to naval diplomacy, focusing on its activity outside maritime East Asia, in what it calls the "far seas."

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Blog

    America's Declining Global Influence, COVID-19 and Schools, Pardoning Snowden: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on America's declining status on the world stage, why schools need long-term plans to address COVID-19, what Shinzo Abe's resignation means for the U.S.-Japan alliance, and more.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Osama bin Laden (L) sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a secret location in Afghanistan, November 10, 2001, photo by Hamid Mir/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Ayman al-Zawahiri Really the Future of Al-Qaida?

    Nineteen years after 9/11, al Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has yet to achieve the household notoriety evoked by his immediate predecessor, Osama bin Laden. But even though Zawahiri has conjured less of a personality cult, al Qaida's current leader is just as dangerous to the United States as its old one.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 28, 2020, photo by Issei Kato/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Abe Leaves Behind

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's unexpected resignation leaves several of his policy priorities unfinished, including revising Japan's constitution and finalizing a peace treaty with Russia. But the security issues facing Japan and the region remain unchanged, and Abe's successor may be forced to confront several of them on his very first day.

    Sep 11, 2020

  • China's President Xi Jinping looks on during the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018, photo by Gulshan Khan/Pool/Reuters

    Testimony

    Continuity and Change in China's Foreign Policy

    China's hawkish and assertive foreign policy has experienced both continuity and change in recent years. What is the key criterion for evaluating the success of Beijing's foreign policy? And how do domestic pressures affect it?

    Sep 9, 2020

  • An American flag waving at sunset, photo by Emily Sisson/Getty Images

    Report

    How American Influence Has Declined, and What Can Be Done About It

    The United States has been declining in foreign policy achievements for two decades. Skeptics need to be persuaded that working for a more peaceful and prosperous world is in America's national and their personal interest. And sustained public support for international engagement requires cooperation across party lines.

    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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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

  • 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