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.

  • Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, political chief of the Taliban, in Tianjin, China, July 28, 2021, photo by Li Ran/Xinhua via Reuters

    Commentary

    Chinese Recognition of the Taliban Is All but Inevitable

    Aug 27, 2021

    China is likely to recognize and legitimize the new leadership in Afghanistan within the coming weeks or months. Even if China has real concerns about the Taliban's willingness to keep its promises, the potential benefits are simply too great for Beijing to ignore.

Explore International Diplomacy

  • 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

  • Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and China's Premier Li Keqiang shake hands during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China July 4, 2019, photo by Mark Schiefelbein/Pool via Reuters

    Commentary

    China Isn't Backing Down in South Asia

    Much to India's frustration, China's influence is on the rise across South Asia. India will probably have to work overtime, and in concert with like-minded partners such as Australia, Japan, and the United States to complicate and rein in China's successes in the region.

    Dec 30, 2020

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin during an end-of-year videoconference with members of the Russian government at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence, December 24, 2020, photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Reuters

    Commentary

    Arms Control Held Hostage

    President-elect Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin have wisely promised to extend the 2010 New START Treaty, which cuts long-range nuclear arms. The two leaders may also pursue a broader follow-on accord, but frigid U.S.-Russian relations could put this out of reach. Progress on arms control often comes when political winds are warmer.

    Dec 28, 2020

  • Blog

    The Most Popular RAND Research of 2020

    Here are the RAND research projects that resonated most in 2020, a year unlike any in living memory. Topics include remote learning, election disinformation, income inequality, and more.

    Dec 21, 2020

  • Blog

    Americans' Financial Struggles, COVID-19 Vaccinations, Virtual Schools: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Americans' ongoing financial struggles, how we can learn from the first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations, why virtual schools may be here to stay, and more.

    Dec 18, 2020

  • Otto von Bismarck and Napoleon III after the Battle of Sedan in 1870, Painting by Wilhelm Camphausen/Public Domain

    Commentary

    Thinking in (Napoleonic) Times: Historical Warnings for an Era of Great-Power Competition

    Over the last several years, great-power competition has become a major topic of discussion, prompting policymakers, scholars, and pundits alike to look to the past for lessons to explain the emerging contest between the United States and China. Considering how a variety of historical powers have faced rising challengers can aid our understanding of the challenges ahead.

    Dec 18, 2020

  • In the foreground, an early warning aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force

    Report

    Regional Responses to U.S.-China Competition in the Indo-Pacific: Australia and New Zealand

    In this report, the authors assess the perspectives of Australia and New Zealand as they implement their responses to China's more assertive foreign and security policy behavior in the Indo-Pacific and to a more competitive U.S.-China relationship.

    Dec 17, 2020

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a televised address to the nation at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, December 14, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/ReutersU.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a televised address to the nation at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware, December 14, 2020, photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Taiwan Can Feel at Ease with Joe Biden as U.S. President

    Joe Biden's win in the U.S. presidential election is causing thinly veiled heartburn in Taipei. But concerns that the incoming Biden administration might rethink Taiwan policy in favor of better relations with China are probably misguided.

    Dec 15, 2020

  • Blog

    Civic Education, 'Vaccine Nationalism,' Polar Icebreakers: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on how to revive civic education in America's public schools, the costs of "vaccine nationalism," why the United States needs more polar icebreaking ships, and more.

    Dec 11, 2020

  • U.S. President-elect Joe Biden delivers a speech at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, November 25, 2020, photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Issues Will Biden Prioritize in the Indo-Pacific?

    The security challenges facing the incoming Biden administration are likely to remain largely the same as those in 2020. The increasing geopolitical, military, and economic heft of the Indo-Pacific region means the United States will likely continue to prioritize this region in 2021.

    Dec 10, 2020

  • President-elect Biden announces his key health team nominees and appointees in Wilmington, DE, December 8, 2020, photo by CNP/InStar/Cover Images/Reuters

    Commentary

    What Biden's Africa Strategy Might Look Like

    Biden's election may present Washington with a welcome opportunity to reset its relationship with sub-Saharan Africa. It could behoove U.S. policymakers to engage with the region to ensure that the United States will be positioned to take full advantage of whatever opportunities arise, and, when necessary, do whatever might be possible to avert unfavorable outcomes.

    Dec 10, 2020

  • Overhead view of a container ship in port, photo by CHUNYIP WONG/Getty Images

    Commentary

    RCEP Forms the World's Largest Trading Bloc. What Does This Mean for Global Trade?

    In November, 15 nations signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement of economic and political significance eight years in the making. Why have some heralded RCEP as a landmark agreement?

    Dec 9, 2020

  • South Korean President Moon Jae In attends a meeting with senior advisers at the presidential office in Seoul, South Korea on August 24, 2020, photo by Blue House/Handout/Latin America

    Commentary

    What Does South Korea Herald for the Biden Administration?

    South Korea appears to be running on all cylinders to build relations with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, with President Moon Jae-in and his team busy issuing public statements and arranging high-level meetings with key players in the incoming administration. What can the Biden administration expect from South Korea on critical foreign policy issues?

    Dec 4, 2020