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.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Kherson, Ukraine, November 14, 2022, photo by Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Reuters

    Commentary

    What's the Harm in Talking to Russia? A Lot, Actually

    Despite the way it is commonly portrayed, diplomacy is not intrinsically and always good, nor is it cost-free. In the Ukraine conflict, the problems with a push for diplomacy are especially apparent. The likely benefits of negotiations are minimal, and the prospective costs could be significant.

    Nov 22, 2022

  • U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink and Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova visit Borodianka, in the Kyiv Region, Ukraine, June 4, 2022, photo by Edgar Su/Reuters

    Commentary

    Do Americans Know Who Their Diplomats Are? Or What They Do?

    Americans have a limited understanding of how diplomats are selected and how diplomacy interacts with other elements of the U.S. national security establishment. Efforts to better inform and engage the American public about the work of diplomacy and who American diplomats are would lead to a greater understanding of the job and its people.

    Jun 20, 2022

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan during a meeting in Moscow, Russia, February 24, 2022, photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Most of the Indo-Pacific Tiptoes Around Russia

    Since the start of Russia's increasingly brutal war in Ukraine, the West has ramped up pressure on the rest of the world to condemn Moscow's belligerence and join sanctions against Russia and its regime. In the vast Indo-Pacific region, however, the West's message has fallen flat.

    Apr 7, 2022

  • Fourth and fifth generation aircraft from eight countries participated in a partnership flight to kick-off Blue Flag 21, over Uvda Air Base, Israel, on Oct. 17, 2021. This biennial training event is essential to building and maintaining defensive interoperability and ensuring Israel’s and other nations’ qualitative edge. Large-force exercises, like Israel-led Blue Flag, allow partner nations to build trust and develop a common understanding of the security environment, photo by Israeli Air Force

    Report

    Security Cooperation in a Strategic Competition

    Neither China nor Russia has a formal doctrine or strategy for security cooperation. How can the United States enhance its security cooperation policies and activities to its competitive advantage?

    Apr 6, 2022

  • The U.N. Security Council meeting room at the United Nations in New York City, March 11, 2022, photo by Carlo Allegri/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is There a Future for Multilateralism?

    The rise in the use of informal arrangements and the proliferation in the use of regional arrangements have weakened multilateral institutions. Multilateralism's failure, if it happens, could raise significant challenges on how to address global public issues.

    Apr 4, 2022

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping walk down the stairs as they arrive for a BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil, November 14, 2019, photo by Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

    Report

    Understanding the Emerging Era of International Competition Through the Eyes of Others: Country Perspectives

    The authors examine the nature of the emerging era of international competition, assess the perspectives of the major powers—beginning with the primary challengers to the U.S.-led international order—and evaluate various characteristics for each country.

    Mar 31, 2022

  • Smoke rises after shelling near Kyiv, Ukraine, March 25, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    Even as War Rages, It's Not Too Soon for U.S. Policymakers to Look Over Horizon

    As Russia's war in Ukraine grinds on and the humanitarian disaster deepens, Washington may be tempted to focus exclusively on punishing Putin. But that approach might well backfire. Over the long term, the United States wants stability and peace in and around Ukraine and to ensure that Moscow pays a cost for its aggression without making it a global pariah.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • USCGC Richard Snyder takes part in Operation Nanook to enhance collective abilities to respond to safety and security issues in the High North, in the Davis Strait, August 13, 2021, photo by USCGC Richard Snyder/U.S. Coast Guard

    Commentary

    Putin's Actions in Ukraine Are Spilling North

    The decision of seven Arctic countries to suspend collaborative work with Russia in the Arctic is by far the most severe and consequential break in cooperation the region has ever seen. This breakdown of Arctic diplomacy could have several important impacts on the region and could potentially threaten the United States as well as its allies.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin and China's President Xi Jinping at the BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil, November 14, 2019, photo by Pavel Golovkin/Pool/Reuters

    Report

    Great Power Rivalry in a Changing International Order

    U.S. national security policy for the foreseeable future will be oriented around competition with China and Russia. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has intensified this rivalry and will likely have profound echo effects through the parallel U.S.-China rivalry and the international system.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • Officers of the Vietnamese Marine Guard monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel in the South China Sea, about 130 miles offshore of Vietnam, May 15, 2014, photo by Nguyen Minh/Reuters

    Research Brief

    How and Why China Uses Gray Zone Tactics

    China uses a variety of gray zone tactics—coercive actions that are shy of armed conflict but beyond normal diplomatic and economic activities—to advance its objectives, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. Which tactics should the United States prioritize countering?

    Mar 30, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Competition in the Gray Zone: Countering China's Coercion Against U.S. Allies and Partners in the Indo-Pacific

    This report examines how and why China uses gray zone tactics—coercive activities beyond normal diplomacy and trade but below the use of kinetic military force—against U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific.

    Mar 30, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Insights on Russia's War in Ukraine, Global Citizenship, Vaccination Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Russia's war on Ukraine, medication treatment for patients with opioid use disorder, promoting global citizenship in America, and more.

    Mar 25, 2022

  • Rescuers work next to a building damaged by Russian air strikes in central Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 14, 2022, photo by Vitalii Hnidyi/Reuters

    Commentary

    Duty Bound to Disaster: Beware the Imperative in Foreign Policymaking

    Appeals for bolder action in Ukraine will understandably only grow more intense as the appalling humanitarian toll mounts. But imperative-driven action almost always leads countries astray—and in the days and weeks ahead, it will be critical for the United States to stay alert for its symptoms.

    Mar 22, 2022

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Woody Island, in the Paracel Archipelago, January 29, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Taiwan Isn't the Ukraine of the Indo-Pacific. Try Vietnam Instead

    Russia's war in Eastern Europe has prompted Indo-Pacific security watchers to draw comparisons between Ukraine's plight and that of Taiwan with regard to China. But the more-applicable analogy is a different Indo-Pacific country: Vietnam.

    Mar 21, 2022

  • Soldiers from the Rapid Response Forces Division during the NATO exercise GREEN GRIFFIN 21 in Lehnin, Germany, October 4, 2021, U.S. Army photo by Michele Wiencek

    Commentary

    Europe After the Ukraine War

    Russia's invasion of Ukraine has generated a massive backlash that is likely to endure even if the guns fall silent. What are the longer-term implications for Europe, and how will it affect European energy policy, military preparedness, and overall unity?

    Mar 21, 2022

  • Military Opener 2

    Multimedia

    Conflict Escalation: How It Works

    RAND senior political scientist Samuel Charap describes two types of conflict escalation and methods for mitigating the broadening of the scope of a conflict.

    Mar 21, 2022

  • Report

    Report

    Disruption Without Change: The Consequences of COVID-19 on the Global Economic Balance

    The author reviews the economic track record of the United States, its competitors, and its allies to discern how economic changes induced by the COVID-19 pandemic could affect geopolitical competition and the security environment.

    Mar 21, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Keeping Russians Informed, No-Fly Zone Policy, Telehealth: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how to ensure Russians have access to accurate news about the war in Ukraine, strategic considerations for keeping a no-fly zone option on the table, treating pain conditions among U.S. service members, and more.

    Mar 18, 2022

  • NATO foreign ministers gather for a meeting following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 4, 2022, photo by Olivier Douliery/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    After Russia's Ukraine Invasion, Seven Assumptions the U.S. and NATO Allies Should Drop

    Given the realizations wrought by the recent invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its NATO allies might reconsider several assumptions and arguments that have limited conventional military deterrence in Europe. Making sure we are ready to defend and thus deter a larger war that must never be fought is critically important.

    Mar 18, 2022

  • The Kremlin's Spasskaya Tower and St. Basil's Cathedral seen through an art object in Zaryadye park in Moscow, Russia, March 15, 2022, photo by Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

    Commentary

    If Regime Change Were to Come to Moscow

    Strains in Russia over the war in Ukraine and punishing economic sanctions could spark regime change in Moscow. Although prospects for this are uncertain, the West might be prudent to begin considering how to deal with any new government.

    Mar 18, 2022

  • File photo of Yoon Suk-yeol, who was elected president of South Korea on March 9, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    Will South Korea's New President Reshape Regional Dynamics?

    Yoon Suk-yeol has been elected president of South Korea. With a tall order to fill at home and abroad, the Yoon administration has the potential to reshape South Korea's future and relationships in the region. The path that he carves for Seoul in the coming weeks and months will be watched with keen interest marked by hopes and apprehension by his neighbors.

    Mar 15, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Putin's State of Mind, the Digital Skills Gap, International Women's Day: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin, understanding America’s gun policy debate, improving teacher diversity, and more.

    Mar 11, 2022