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.

  • 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.

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  • A man walks near the Shalamcha Border Crossing, after Iraq shut borders to travelers moving between Iraq and Iran, March 8, 2020, photo by Essam Al Sudani/Reuters

    Commentary

    COVID-19 Effects on Strategic Dynamics in the Middle East

    The pandemic is sure to have transformational effects everywhere, and the Middle East is no exception. But it's unlikely that the crisis will lead to new regional strategic dynamics. Rather, it's more likely to reinforce existing and largely negative trend lines.

    Mar 26, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with public members in Sevastopol, Crimea March 18, 2020, photo by Alexei Druzhinin/Reuters

    Commentary

    Russia's Ties with the West Rhyme

    With Vladimir Putin seeking constitutional changes that could allow him to stay as president until the 2030s, Russia's strained relations with the West may persist. But if it chooses, Russia can chart a more dynamic future with closer Western ties.

    Mar 23, 2020

  • The USS Bunker Hill, part of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, arrives in Da Nang, Vietnam, March 5, 2020, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nicholas Huynh/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    China Remains Unfazed by Warming U.S.-Vietnam Security Ties

    In early March, the United States sent an aircraft carrier to Da Nang, Vietnam, in a display of goodwill and deepening security ties between the former adversaries. China is well aware of U.S.-Vietnam moves, and yet its public reaction to the USS Theodore Roosevelt can be summed up in one word: unfazed.

    Mar 19, 2020

  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with members of the Federated States of Micronesia Congress in Kolonia, Micronesia, August 5, 2019, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Delayed Chuuk Secession Vote a Win for U.S. Policy in Oceania

    In February, the island of Chuuk postponed a referendum vote on secession from the Federated States of Micronesia. At least for the time being, Chuuk's decision is a significant victory in the U.S. diplomatic, economic, and security competition with China in the Pacific Islands.

    Mar 6, 2020

  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper and members of the NATO, U.S., and Afghanistan delegations take a group photo at the U.S.-Afghanistan Joint Declaration Announcement at the Dilkusha Mansion Garden, Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 29, 2020, photo by Staff Sgt. Brandy Nicole Mejia/U.S. Army Photo

    Commentary

    Book Review: 'The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime' by Oriana Skylar Mastro

    Why do warring parties wait so long to start peace negotiations? How can we get to that stage more quickly and definitively? Oriana Skylar Mastro explores the tension between the imperative to fight and the imperative to negotiate in her book, The Costs of Conversation: Obstacles to Peace Talks in Wartime.

    Mar 2, 2020

  • U.S. President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte alongside the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2017, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    If U.S. Forces Have to Leave the Philippines, Then What?

    If the United States were to lose access to bases in the Philippines, the effects would ripple outward. Maintaining alliances in the Indo-Pacific in all their manifestations is critical—and the details matter.

    Feb 28, 2020

  • West African leaders and officials stand for a family photo at the ECOWAS extraordinary summit on terrorism in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, September 14, 2019 photo by Anne Mimault/Reuters

    Commentary

    More Engagement in West Africa Could Blunt Looming Crisis

    There is a very real possibility that the security crisis afflicting Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger will spread to the countries of the West African coastal region. Early action including security-sector support could be the key to staving off worst-case scenarios.

    Feb 25, 2020

  • Blog

    New START, Trump's Middle East Peace Plan, New Tobacco Products: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on why the United States should extend the New START agreement, the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan, new tobacco products, and more.

    Feb 21, 2020

  • Two hands colored with flags of China and United States clasping, photo by master1305/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Power and Legitimacy Go Hand in Hand

    The United States has a truly distinct approach to power which has made all the difference in the post-war world. We abandon it at our peril.

    Feb 21, 2020

  • Blog

    Infectious Diseases, Zimbabwe, Students with Disabilities: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the U.S. response to infectious diseases, Zimbabwe after Mugabe, the support for students with disabilities, and more.

    Feb 14, 2020

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty at Prague Castle in the Czech Republic, April 8, 2010, photo by Jason Reed/Reuters

    Report

    The Military Case for Extending New START

    The most prudent course of action would be for Washington to extend the U.S.-Russia New START agreement before it expires in February 2021. This would constrain Russia's nuclear forces covered by the treaty for five more years. And it would buy time to pursue multilateral negotiations that also include China.

    Feb 14, 2020

  • Taiwan Vice President-elect William Lai and incumbent Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen celebrate at a rally after their election victory in Taipei, Taiwan, January 11, 2020, photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

    Commentary

    Where Does China's 'One Country, Two Systems' Stand in 2020?

    Hong Kong and Macau live under “one country, two systems,” and China aspires to include Taiwan in the future as well. But President Tsai Ing-wen's landslide re-election in Taiwan on January 11 resoundingly demonstrates that the arrangement is dead on arrival there.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin uses a pair of binoculars while overseeing the military exercises known as "Centre-2019" in Orenburg Region, Russia September 20, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via Reuters

    Commentary

    Jumpstarting Arms Control Talks with Russia: A Low-Risk Gambit

    In 2019, Russia proposed a moratorium on missile deployments in Europe. If the United States does not accept, it could increase the threat to NATO allies and provide Moscow with more bargaining chips in future arms negotiations.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • President Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu hold a joint news conference to discuss the Peace to Prosperity proposal in Washington, January 28, 2020, photo by Brendan McDermid/Reuters

    Commentary

    Peace with the Region Is Not a Peace Plan

    Acceptance of Israel from the broader Arab world will not resolve the dilemma of how the Israelis and the Palestinians can agree to live on the same land together. A viable plan for the future, one that is about real peace and not a one-sided political gambit, must recognize these realities.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev exchange the signed new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II) at Prague Castle in Prague, April 8, 2010, photo by Petr Josek/Reuters

    Commentary

    Stabilizing the Nuclear Cold War

    Russia and the United States are still locked in a nuclear cold war. Thousands of nuclear weapons are deployed, some on high alert. Although the United States prudently withdrew from several past arms control treaties with Russia, it could be in America's interest to extend New START.

    Feb 13, 2020

  • Announcement

    New RAND Center to Analyze Options for U.S. Grand Strategy

    RAND is launching the Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy to advance the debate on American foreign policy by tackling key unresolved theoretical, empirical, and policy questions. The center will address analytical gaps so that policymakers may consider fully developed options for U.S. grand strategy.

    Feb 12, 2020

  • Blog

    Community Schools, Brexit, Coronavirus: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the promise of community schools, the costs of uncertainty after Brexit, the coronavirus, and more.

    Jan 31, 2020

  • Icebergs and ice in the Arctic Sea, photo by Explora_2005/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Today's Arctic Diplomacy Can't Handle Tomorrow's Problems

    The international structures that have helped address many Arctic problems through negotiation and cooperation are insufficient for the military and security challenges brought on by climate change. A new forum is needed to address military and security issues in the region.

    Jan 29, 2020

  • U.S. and China flags inside gears with a third gear with a question mark inside, photo by

    Commentary

    The Real U.S.-China Competition: Theories of Influence

    Strategic competition between the United States and China has come to dominate U.S. foreign policy debates. That competition is multifaceted, but it may turn on a basic question: Which country has a more sustainable concept of national influence?

    Jan 29, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin at his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 19, 2019, photo by Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters

    Report

    What Provokes Putin's Russia?

    Even with an understanding of what Russia considers to be redlines, predicting its reactions is challenging. An analysis of past instances of Russian escalation—and instances when redlines were crossed but Russia did not respond—offers guidance for U.S. and NATO deterrence efforts.

    Jan 29, 2020