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.

  • 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?

    Oct 26, 2020

    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.

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

    Blog

    The Lost Generation in American Foreign Policy

    Sep 15, 2020

    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.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (center) speaks in a videoconference with the heads of the European Union in London, UK, June 15, 2020, photo by Andrew Parsons/No10 Downing Street/Reuters

    Commentary

    The Cost of Brexit Uncertainty

    Leaving the European Union has had an overall negative economic effect on the UK economy, and there are additional economic costs associated with the uncertainty surrounding the new relationship. Will there be a deal? And if so, what type of deal is likely?

    Jul 8, 2020

  • Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un attends wreath laying ceremony at Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam, March 2, 2019, photo by Jorge Silva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Will the Real Kim Yo Jong Stand Up?

    It's difficult to get reliable information about North Korea's leadership. This is especially true of Kim Jong Un's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong. Nonetheless, Washington should strive to learn as much as possible about someone who could become the leader of a nuclear-armed North Korea.

    Jul 6, 2020

  • A replica of China Railway high-speed trains at a media center for the second Belt and Road Forum, in Beijing, China, April 26, 2019, photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

    Commentary

    Demystifying the Belt and Road Initiative

    Under the Belt and Road Initiative, China works with more than 70 countries to design and implement large infrastructure projects. Why are countries of all stripes turning to China for funding when the world is awash with cash?

    Jul 6, 2020

  • An Indian Army convoy moves along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer in Kashmir's Ganderbal district, June 18, 2020, photo by Danish Ismail/Reuters

    Commentary

    Chinese Border Aggression Against India Likely Unrelated to Pandemic

    Some argue that Beijing's aggression at the China-India border is part of an attempt to exploit the pandemic. But it may simply be a continuation of China's threatening behavior in the Indo-Pacific, which began before COVID-19 started to spread.

    Jul 6, 2020

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin gestures during the joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018, photo by Lehtikuva/Jussi Nukari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Take the Bird in the Hand. Strike a Nuclear Weapons Deal with Russia

    By extending New START, the Trump administration would preserve verifiable constraints on Russia's nuclear arsenal, buy time to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement, and pave the way for arms talks about intermediate-range missiles.

    Jul 1, 2020

  • South Korean soldiers hold flags of countries that fought in the Korean War at a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the war, near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Cheorwon, South Korea, June 25, 2020, photo by Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is North Korea Prepared to End the Korean War?

    The end of the Korean War and peace on the peninsula are no more likely to occur as the result of a peace agreement than has North Korean denuclearization occurred as the result of multiple denuclearization agreements. Ultimately, North Korean objectives matter, and real peace does not appear to be part of those objectives.

    Jun 29, 2020

  • Philippines President Rodrigo Roa Duterte updates the nation on the government's efforts in addressing COVID-19 at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 11, 2020, photo by Ace Morandante/Philippines Office of the President

    Commentary

    China Just Botched a Monumental Opportunity with the Philippines

    China hailed Philippines President Duterte's announcement in February of an end to the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in six months as evidence the United States was losing the great power competition with China in the Indo-Pacific. But on June 2, Duterte decided to postpone the VFA termination, breathing new life into the decades-long agreement.

    Jun 18, 2020

  • Two Korean sailors watch the U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge as it arrives in Busan, Republic of Korea, March 5, 2010, photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bobbie Attaway/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    As COVID-19 Makes Clear, U.S. Allies in the Indo-Pacific, Not the Money They Pay to Host U.S. Forces, Are the Value Proposition

    The great value the United States extracts from its alliances with Japan and South Korea is not the money they provide to offset the costs of hosting U.S. forces; the value is the deep and abiding alliances themselves and the liberal, democratic, rule of law market economies and societies to which they link the United States.

    Jun 12, 2020

  • Signal cables are laid out at a test location on Yucca Flat, the principal underground nuclear weapons testing area at the Nevada Test Site, in the 1990s, photo courtesy of National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Field Office

    Commentary

    Nuclear Testing Not Needed Now

    Trump administration officials are reported to have recently discussed conducting a nuclear test, breaking a moratorium the United States has observed since 1992. Such a move is not necessary to ensure the reliability of the U.S. arsenal and could increase threats to U.S. and allied security by giving a green light to others to conduct nuclear tests.

    Jun 11, 2020

  • A sign with flags of (R-L) Tuvalu, Nauru, Taiwan, Marshall Islands, and Palau is seen before a ceremony to donate masks to Taiwan's Pacific allies, in Taipei, Taiwan, April 15, 2020, photo by Ben Blanchard/Reuters

    Commentary

    Should the U.S. Move to Strengthen Ties with Taiwan?

    The contrasts in behavior between Taiwan and China during the COVID-19 pandemic show why it could be critical that U.S. policymakers consider advancing U.S.-Taiwan cooperation to enhance Taiwan's security, protect U.S. interests, and preserve peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

    Jun 8, 2020

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presides over a meeting of the Workers' Party of Korea Central Military Commission, May 24, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    For the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, It’s the North Korean Regime, Not Kim Jong Un Per Se, That Is the Threat

    Would Kim Jong Un's death improve U.S., South Korean, and Japanese security? Maybe not. North Korea's advancing nuclear and other military capabilities are driving an expanded set of problems, and while Kim's sudden death might constitute a destabilizing factor for the regime, the available evidence suggests the regime itself is the problem.

    Jun 8, 2020

  • Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a speech at the opening session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 22, 2020, photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is the '1992 Consensus' Fading Away in the Taiwan Strait?

    For nearly 30 years, China has routinely touted Taiwan's recognition of the 1992 Consensus as the sole basis for maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. However, the consensus may hold less relevance for both sides today than in the past.

    Jun 3, 2020

  • Digital world map, photo by dem10/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Why the United States Will Need a New Foreign Policy in 2020

    Even before the pandemic, the United States faced a growing strategic predicament: U.S. challenges are mounting, and America's international commitments increasingly outstrip its means to fulfill them.

    May 26, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, May 17, 2018, p

    Commentary

    Russia's Challenge and Syria's Chance

    With much of Syria lying in ruins, Russia can back a revived United Nations–led peacemaking process, or see the West rebuff its appeals for large-scale aid. If Russia chooses wisely, the West, wealthy Gulf countries, and China could help. If Moscow procrastinates, the West may withhold assistance and continue cooperation with regional partners.

    May 20, 2020

  • China's aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy military drill in the western Pacific Ocean, April 18, 2018, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    China's Aggression Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Little to Do with COVID-19

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to monopolize the attention of leaders around the world, some international observers of China have concluded that Beijing is attempting to exploit the crisis for geopolitical gain. The reality is that China has been engaging in the same types of pressure tactics for years and will likely continue once the pandemic passes.

    May 20, 2020

  • Kim Jong Un attends the completion of a fertilizer plant with his younger sister Kim Yo Jong, in a region north of Pyongyang, May 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korea Post–Kim Jong Un Reappearance: Expect Business as Usual in the Hermit Kingdom

    Kim Jong Un's return, while it leaves much to be desired in the way of explanation, should send one message to the international audience: North Korea's fate rests still in the hands of Kim Jong Un. And judging by appearances in recent days, Kim does not appear to intend to change the course of his strategy to reduce tensions with the United States.

    May 19, 2020

  • A Delta IV rocket successfully launches the Global Positioning System IIF-5 satellite from Space Launch Complex-37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, February 20, 2014, photo by Ben Cooper/United Launch Alliance

    Research Brief

    What Will the Future of Warfare Look Like?

    Poor predictions about wars stem from failing to think holistically about the factors that drive changes in the global environment and their implications for warfare. Geopolitical, economic, military, space, nuclear, cyber, and other trends will shape the contours of conflict through 2030.

    May 11, 2020

  • Joint Interagency Task Force South, JIATF South, JIATF-S, Drug trafficking, illicit trafficking, DOD, Federal Agencies, Interagency, Border Safety, Customs, Border Patrol

    Report

    The Future of Warfare in 2030: Project Overview and Conclusions

    This report is the overview in a series that seeks to answer questions about the future of warfare, including who might be the United States' adversaries and allies, where conflicts will be fought, and how and why they might occur.

    May 11, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto during their meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei state residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, August 22, 2018, photo by Pavel Golovkin/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Russia Struggles to Feed Its Great-Power Addiction

    Russia has become less cooperative and pursued more autarky in recent years. If Moscow continues on a path of resisting globalization, it could be left behind.

    May 11, 2020

  • Kim Jong-un attends the completion of a fertilizer plant north of Pyongyang, in this image released by KCNA on May 2, 2020, photo by KCNA/Reuters

    Commentary

    North Korean Provocations, Not Denuclearization

    Kim Jong-un's reappearance raises questions about the course of U.S.–North Korea relationships in the coming year. What should we expect? What can we learn from the past?

    May 8, 2020