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.

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  • 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

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Future Threats and Some Considerations for the Next U.S. National Defense Strategy

    In this article, the authors offer a U.S. perspective on the evolution of threats from the recent past, and posit several considerations for the next National Defense Strategy.

    Jan 26, 2021

  • Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Ethan Clabaugh stands watch on the amphibious assault ship USS America in Okinawa, Japan, January 16, 2021, photo by MCSN Matthew Cavenaile/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Why Biden's Japan Agenda Matters

    Efforts to mend America's political wounds, combating COVID-19, and the continuing deterioration of U.S.-China relations may dominate the Biden agenda. But quick wins with Japan are possible and could be necessary to ensure that the alliance begins on a positive footing so it can tackle difficult challenges in the years ahead.

    Jan 26, 2021

  • Allied troops cross Neman River during NATO exercise Saber Strike in Kulautuva, Lithuania, June 13, 2018, photo by Andrius Sytas/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Great Wall

    China built a wall to protect against foreign invaders, but Russia is erecting a barrier that could weaken its position. Moscow's pressure on neighbors has spurred NATO to bolster its presence in Russia's immediate vicinity.

    Jan 25, 2021

  • European Council President Charles Michel, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's President Emmanuel Macron attend the EU summit in Brussels, Belgium, October 15, 2020, photo by Yves Herman/Pool/Reuters

    Commentary

    Welcoming a Stronger European Defense

    Washington has bristled at the notion of a Europe capable of strategic autonomy in the past. But the Biden administration might do better to take seriously the prospect of Europe as a (potentially great) power, and welcome it.

    Jan 22, 2021

  • A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilot flies alongside two Indonesian air force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilots over the Sam Ratulangi International Airport in Manado, Indonesia

    Report

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

    In this report, the author examines whether and how the United States can increase its cooperation with Indonesia in order to manage China's rise as a strategic competitor to the United States in the Indo-Pacific region.

    Jan 21, 2021

  • Antony Blinken, nominee for Secretary of State, speaks as President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President–elect Kamala Harris announce their national security nominees and appointees, Wilmington, Delaware, November 24, 2020, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Commentary

    For Joe Biden, an Experienced Foreign Policy Team

    As President-elect Biden fills out his foreign policy team he might wish to reach out to a few foreign affairs professionals who sat out the Trump administration in order to fill positions in fields where some degree of bipartisanship remains a possibility. These areas might include relations with allies and with the two major U.S. competitors, Russia and China.

    Jan 19, 2021

  • 3D rendering of earth with red lines representing communication or weapons, photo by DKosig/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How Joe Biden Can Galvanize Space Diplomacy

    The potential for conflicts to originate in outer space, or for terrestrial conflicts to extend there, has grown with the development of counterspace weapons and the explosion of commercial space activity. But previous efforts to establish norms have had limited results. The Biden administration has an opportunity, working with like-minded allies and partners, to galvanize nascent international efforts.

    Jan 15, 2021

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a speech after a conference video call focused on foreign policy at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, December 28, 2020, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden Will Inherit Healthy Indo-Pacific Alliances

    Certainly there is much work ahead as the United States embarks on the next chapter of competition against China throughout the Indo-Pacific. But U.S. alliances and partnerships are in good shape—the result of a growing Indo-Pacific consensus on the existential economic and security threat China poses.

    Jan 11, 2021

  • State-of-the-art laboratories at Tbilisi State University, photo by CHICHI/Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia

    Report

    Georgia II STEM Higher Education Interim Evaluation Report

    The authors evaluate the implementation of a San Diego State University partnership with three universities in the country of Georgia, part of a U.S.-Georgia collaboration to improve university education in science, technology, engineering, and math.

    Jan 5, 2021

  • Sailors on the USS McCampbell signal to an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter during a training exercise in the South China Sea, July 22, 2016, photo by MC3 Elesia K. Patten/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    What Does Vietnam Want from the United States in the South China Sea?

    Over the last few years, tensions between China and Vietnam in the South China Sea have remained high. While the Biden administration is likely to continue positive momentum in bilateral ties, it is less clear what specifically Hanoi seeks from Washington to help it effectively deter Beijing.

    Jan 4, 2021