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.

  • A soldier loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's forces is seen in Quneitra, Syria, July 22, 2018

    Commentary

    The Power and Limits of Threat: The Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act at One Year

    Jul 8, 2021

    A powerful new U.S. sanctions law on Syria came into effect one year ago, with great notice and speculation regarding its potential effects. Now, one year later, it is apparent that the act's power lies not in who the United States has sanctioned but in who the United States could sanction.

  • Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha at Government House in Bangkok, Thailand, June 2, 2021, photo by U.S. Embassy Bangkok

    Commentary

    Biden's Troubled Southeast Asia Policy Needs a Reboot

    Jul 6, 2021

    Nearly six months into Joe Biden's presidency, it is now possible to begin assessing the effectiveness of some of his administration's policies. When it comes to Southeast Asia, the Biden administration has thus far fallen short, but the future looks relatively bright with certain caveats.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Japan's Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi attend a video conference with Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Defence Minister Ben Wallace (on the screen) at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, Japan, February 3, 2021, hoto by Franck Robichon/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Strong Japan-U.K. Alliance Needed to Counter China

    With Brexit behind it, Britain faces a question about what role it should play in the world. Assuming it wants to remain a power that can shape—but not dominate—international relations, it makes sense to partner with like-minded states, such as Japan.

    Feb 24, 2021

  • News Release

    News Release

    Traditional U.S. Approaches to Middle East Not Working: Reimagined Strategy Would Lean Less on Massive Arms Sales, More ...

    U.S. policies in the Middle East are built on outdated “legacy” aid packages, massive arms sales, and a disproportionate focus on the Iranian threat that fail to advance American interests—or help the region's people—and need to be rethought.

    Feb 23, 2021

  • Figure looks down on another figure from a higher stack of blocks, photo by francescoch/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Shared Prosperity: The Crying Need for Inclusive Globalization

    The disaffection of a wide swath of the American population has been linked to the political polarization of the country, as well as its divisive tendencies. While globalization is not the only reason for this disaffection, it is an apt lens through which to view the revolt against elitism, expertise, and changing demographics.

    Feb 23, 2021

  • A view from space of the Middle East, West Asia, and East Europe at night, photo by wael alreweie/Getty Images

    Report

    Reimagining U.S. Strategy in the Middle East

    Long-standing U.S. policies in the Middle East that rely on defeating threats and keeping partners on “our side” have fallen short. What if the U.S. approach shifted from focusing on the threat of the day to a positive vision of a region supported by increased diplomatic and economic investments?

    Feb 22, 2021

  • Report

    Report

    Reimagining U.S. Strategy in the Middle East: Sustainable Partnerships, Strategic Investments (Executive Summary)

    In this summary, researchers assess the advantages and trade-offs of a reimagined Middle East strategy where strategic goals link to a broader understanding of stability that prioritizes reduced conflict, better governance, and greater development.

    Feb 22, 2021

  • Blog

    Reducing Hospital Prices, Vaccinating the Most Active, Myanmar: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on regulating hospital prices to cut spending, a COVID-19 vaccine strategy that prioritizes “active” people, what the Capitol attack means for security clearances, and more.

    Feb 19, 2021

  • A Taiwanese coast guard points at a map showing the waters surrounding Matsu islands and mainland Chinese coast, at a coast guard office on Nangan island, the main island of the Taiwan-controlled Matsu islands, January 28, 2021, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Testimony

    U.S. Allied and Partner Support for Taiwan

    As the Biden administration assesses its Taiwan policy, it is important to examine how U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific might respond to a potential conflict over Taiwan. What factors might influence their willingness to help the United States defend Taiwan? And how might they respond if the United States did not come to Taiwan's defense?

    Feb 18, 2021

  • Blog

    Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, COVID-19 Variants, Myanmar: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on alternatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military, how couples can sleep better during the pandemic, and more.

    Feb 12, 2021

  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, signs an agreement with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan in Doha, Qatar, February 29, 2020, photo by Ibraheem al Omari/Reuters

    Commentary

    Afghanistan: Give Peace a Chance

    The timetable set out in the Afghan peace agreement was always unrealistically ambitious. If the Biden administration postpones the May withdrawal of U.S. troops, then this could provide the two Afghan sides more time to address core issues that must be resolved if any settlement is to stick.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Digital world map, photo by kontekbrothers/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Humility and Limits

    When it spurns global institutions and norms and throws its considerable military weight around, the United States destroys its greatest competitive advantage—the prized role as the hub of a predominant network of global power.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Myanmar Army armored vehicles drive along a street after they seized power in a coup in Mandalay, Myanmar, February 2, 2021, photo by Stringer/Reuters

    Commentary

    Myanmar Coup: First Foreign Policy Test for President Biden

    Shortly after dawn on February 1, Myanmar's military staged a coup against the nation's fledgling civilian government. There are no easy solutions, and how the Biden administration responds will be widely seen as a template for other thorny situations in the future.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • Abstract world map with polygons, photo by imaginima/Getty Images

    Commentary

    U.S. Approach to Strengthening Global Order Will Have to Change

    Support for a reformed rules-based order may be the cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. But the word “reformed” is crucial in that statement. The U.S. approach to strengthening global order will have to change in ways that will sit uneasily with the expectations and habits of the world's leading power.

    Feb 9, 2021

  • The United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket launches from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, July 30, 2020, photo by Frank Michaux/NASA

    Commentary

    Navigating Norms for the New Space Era

    To make better progress on global norms for responsible behavior in space, the U.S. defense and intelligence communities might first consider reaching a consensus among themselves on what these norms should be. Until they reconcile their differences the United States will be less likely be in a position to play a leadership role.

    Feb 8, 2021

  • An MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter takes off from the flight deck of the USS Mustin in the Taiwan Strait, August 18, 2020, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cody Beam/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Biden Doubles Down on Trump's Taiwan Policy, but Will It Last?

    It's an open secret that Taiwan welcomed the Trump administration's policy to significantly strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations, and it was jittery about the transition to the Biden administration. Early indications, however, are that the Biden team appears poised to opt for a stronger relationship with Taiwan as set forth under the Trump administration.

    Feb 5, 2021

  • U.S. Navy sailors pull a line affixed to a combat rubber raiding craft with Japan Ground Self-Defense Force Amphibious Rapid Deployment Regiment soldiers in the Pacific Ocean, February 6, 2020, photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Natalie M. Byers/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    The United States and Japan Should Prepare for War with China

    The U.S.-Japan alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and stability in the East China Sea region. Those benefits come through a shared commitment to provide robust responses from peacetime to contingencies. But is the alliance equipped, postured, and authorized to do what will need to be done in a conflict?

    Feb 5, 2021

  • Will U.S.-Iran Relations Improve?

    Multimedia

    Under the Biden Administration: Will U.S.-Iran Relations Improve?

    RAND senior international/defense policy researcher Heather Williams discusses the current landscape for improving the strained relationship between the United States and Iran.

    Feb 4, 2021

  • National guard block the street during a protest against the detention of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia, January 31, 2021, photo by Sergei Mikhailichenko/SOPA/Reuters

    Commentary

    Alexei Navalny Has Become a Profile in Courage. This Puts the Kremlin in a Quandary

    Prolonging Alexei Navalny's imprisonment, attempting to murder him—or actually succeeding—would only galvanize his supporters. And releasing him could be viewed as a victory for the opposition, making the Kremlin look weak.

    Feb 2, 2021

  • An Indian fighter plane flies over a mountain range in Leh, in the Ladakh region, India, September 15, 2020, photo by Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

    Commentary

    Stabilizing China-India Relations in 2021: Is This Possible?

    China-India relations seem to be at their lowest point in decades. The Ladakh confrontation is fraught with the risk of escalation. But both countries have much to gain from a compromise. Leadership on both sides could help by focusing on the long-term gains in a spirit of give-and-take.

    Feb 2, 2021

  • A Vietnamese naval soldier stands guard at Thuyen Chai island in the Spratly archipelago January 17, 2013, photo by Quang Le/Reuters

    Commentary

    How U.S.-Vietnam Ties Might Go Off the Rails

    Although there are valid reasons to question the trajectory of U.S.-Vietnam relations in the coming years, the overwhelming momentum is positive and is likely to stay that way. Any frictions that arise will probably be handled diplomatically to avoid greater damage to the relationship. But of course, nothing is guaranteed.

    Feb 1, 2021

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed, and Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani wait prior to signing the Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, DC, September 15, 2020, photo by Tom Brenner/Reuters

    Commentary

    Implementing Arab Gulf Reconciliation

    As the Arab Gulf states prepare to engage with a new U.S. administration, their recent reconciliation announcement offers an opportunity to advance their interests as well as mutual interests with the United States. But the Gulf states' intent to end their feud will very likely not be sufficient unless the agreement is deepened through confidence-building measures and expanded by reaching a parallel understanding with Turkey.

    Jan 27, 2021