International Diplomacy

Featured

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

  • Otto von Bismarck and Napoleon III after the Battle of Sedan in 1870, Painting by Wilhelm Camphausen/Public Domain

    Commentary

    Thinking in (Napoleonic) Times: Historical Warnings for an Era of Great-Power Competition

    Over the last several years, great-power competition has become a major topic of discussion, prompting policymakers, scholars, and pundits alike to look to the past for lessons to explain the emerging contest between the United States and China. Considering how a variety of historical powers have faced rising challengers can aid our understanding of the challenges ahead.

    Dec 18, 2020

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a televised address to the nation at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, December 14, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/ReutersU.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a televised address to the nation at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, December 14, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Taiwan Can Feel at Ease with Joe Biden as U.S. President

    Joe Biden's win in the U.S. presidential election is causing thinly veiled heartburn in Taipei. But concerns that the incoming Biden administration might rethink Taiwan policy in favor of better relations with China are probably misguided.

    Dec 15, 2020

  • Blog

    Civic Education, 'Vaccine Nationalism,' Polar Icebreakers: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how to revive civic education in America's public schools, the costs of "vaccine nationalism," why the United States needs more polar icebreaking ships, and more.

    Dec 11, 2020

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a speech at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, November 25, 2020, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Issues Will Biden Prioritize in the Indo-Pacific?

    The security challenges facing the incoming Biden administration are likely to remain largely the same as those in 2020. The increasing geopolitical, military, and economic heft of the Indo-Pacific region means the United States will likely continue to prioritize this region in 2021.

    Dec 10, 2020

  • 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

    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.

    Dec 10, 2020

  • Overhead view of a container ship in port, photo by CHUNYIP WONG/Getty Images

    Commentary

    RCEP Forms the World's Largest Trading Bloc. What Does This Mean for Global Trade?

    In November, 15 nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement of economic and political significance eight years in the making. Why have some heralded RCEP as a landmark agreement?

    Dec 9, 2020

  • 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?

    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?

    Dec 4, 2020

  • U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Philippines' Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin Jr. with precision-guided munitions among other defense articles during a turnover ceremony, at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines, November 23, 2020, photo by Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Philippines Is Sticking Right by America's Side

    The election of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016 raised concerns around Washington that he would undermine and perhaps even undo the U.S.-Philippines alliance in favor of closer ties with China. More than four years on, however, Manila continues to prioritize Washington over Beijing.

    Dec 2, 2020

  • People's Liberation Army soldiers stand on a ship sailing off from a military port in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, July 11, 2017, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden Could Benefit from Keeping an Indo-Pacific Focus

    U.S. President-elect Joe Biden may be poised to reverse many of President Donald Trump's policies, but one that is very likely to remain is the Indo-Pacific strategy. Any changes will probably be stylistic rather than substantive.

    Nov 30, 2020

  • A boy with followers of the Houthi movement carries a rifle during a rally to commemorate the Ashura, the holiest day for Shi'ite Muslims, in Sanaa, Yemen, August 30, 2020, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

    Commentary

    Yemen's Chaos Creates a New Opportunity for the Biden-Harris Team

    More than one-quarter million Yemenis have been killed in the nation's civil war. And 150,000 children have died from starvation and left Yemen on the brink of collapse. The foundations of peace must be Yemeni-led, but there is much that the new U.S. administration could do to support the process.

    Nov 24, 2020

  • Children play together at Atmeh camp, near the Turkish border, Syria, June 13, 2020, photo by Khalil Ashawi/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Syrian Forever War Has Created Forever Refugees

    Without a formal peace agreement that commits to safety for returnees and creates a foundation for investment in Syria's demolished infrastructure, Syrians will not go home. They fear returning because of reports of returnees being arrested, imprisoned, and tortured.

    Nov 24, 2020

  • Blog

    Schools and COVID-19, Health Care Resources, Leaving Afghanistan: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on allocating scarce but lifesaving resources during a pandemic, insights from America’s educators, the lopsided telework revolution, and more.

    Nov 20, 2020

  • South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a meeting in Seoul, December 04, 2019, photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Pool via Reuters

    Report

    The Geopolitics of South Korea–China Relations

    As Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific increases, U.S. allies and partners are adapting their strategic posture. But even as a key U.S. ally, South Korea seems different. How is Beijing’s growing influence in regional affairs affecting relations between South Korea and China? And what effect do they have on U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific?

    Nov 18, 2020

  • North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un gives field guidance at construction sites in Samjiyon County, North Korea, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 18, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korea: Seeking Influence on President-Elect Biden

    North Korea's past post-election provocation patterns suggest that the United States might have days to weeks before the North's first provocations. The Biden team might consider actions to convince Kim Jong-un that provocations will hurt him.

    Nov 17, 2020

  • An F-22 Raptor conducts a combat air patrol mission over an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, September 13, 2019, photo by MSgt. Russ Scalf/U.S. Air Force

    Research Brief

    Who Has More Influence in the Indo-Pacific, the United States or China?

    Neither the United States nor China is clearly winning the competition for influence in the Indo-Pacific region as a whole. China has more economic influence, and the United States has more diplomatic and military sway. But partners generally value economic development over security concerns.

    Nov 12, 2020

  • The guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey transits the Pacific Ocean while participating in Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC)

    Report

    Regional Responses to U.S.-China Competition in the Indo-Pacific: Study Overview and Conclusions

    The authors define U.S.-China competition for influence and assess competition in nine countries across the Indo-Pacific to gain insight into how the United States could work more effectively with allies and partners in Southeast Asia and beyond.

    Nov 12, 2020

  • A U.S. sailor demonstrates patching a pipe leak during a damage control exchange during naval exchange activity Vietnam.

    Report

    Regional Responses to U.S.-China Competition in the Indo-Pacific: Vietnam

    This report explores Vietnam's perspective on rising U.S.-China competition by evaluating how Vietnam is responding to U.S. and Chinese influence in diplomatic and political, economic, and security and military domains.

    Nov 12, 2020

  • U.S. and China flags crossed on a table, photo by studiocasper/Getty Images

    Commentary

    U.S. Election Won't Dramatically Change the Indo-Pacific Strategy

    No matter who wins the U.S. presidential election, the outcome is unlikely to impact the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy in any significant way. Bipartisan agreement in Washington to counter and compete with China makes clear that the United States will continue to push back against Beijing.

    Nov 2, 2020

  • Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith (L) and Chinese counterpart Wang Yi following a meeting in Beijing, China, August 3, 2016, photo by Rolex Dela Pena/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Vietnam Is Losing Its Best Friends to China

    The wide range of Chinese activities with Cambodia and Laos must be jarring for Vietnamese leaders. China has eclipsed Vietnam in Indochina, and that means that Hanoi's angst will only continue to rise in its own backyard. Vietnam will likely have to find alternative means of engaging Cambodia and Laos to combat Chinese influence in this critical region in the years to come.

    Nov 2, 2020

  • U.S. and North Korean diplomacy depicted by pencils and people running off cliffs to meet in the middle, photo by wildpixel/Getty Images

    Report

    Is There a Better Way to Negotiate with North Korea?

    The failure of recent efforts by the United States to engage North Korea in denuclearization talks calls for a different approach. A new method that addresses the reasons for past failures and reflects current realities offers promising ways forward.

    Oct 26, 2020