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

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  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Preventing Civilian Casualties, Drinking During the Pandemic, Vaccination Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on reforming the Pentagon's policies on civilian casualties, checking in on school principals' well-being, alcohol use in the COVID-19 era, and more.

    Jan 28, 2022

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2021

    Multimedia

    Has the Kremlin Taken Too Much Risk?

    RAND adjunct senior fellow William Courtney suggests that Russia may have taken too much risk by threatening to invade Ukraine and explains what's at stake for the nation.

    Jan 26, 2022

  • U.S. and China flags made into puzzle pieces, photo by studiocasper/Getty Images

    Commentary

    Shaping China's Ambitions

    Managing a rivalry with a regionally ambitious, globally engaged peer competitor of China's economic heft and technological sophistication will be one of the most profound strategic tests the United States has ever faced. A major lesson from its last global rivalry is that mistaken impressions about the nature of the rival and the character of the rivalry can create momentum for dangerous policies.

    Jan 24, 2022

  • Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu (R) and U.S. President George Bush pictured ahead of their meeting in California, April 4, 1991, photo by Takeshi Fujihara/The Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    The Premier Who Helped Change U.S.-Japan Relations

    A Japanese politician who played an important part in the history of U.S.-Japan relations died recently, and chances are you've never heard of him. Kaifu Toshiki was Japan's prime minister from 1989 to 1991, a critical time in U.S.-Japan relations as the world was transitioning from the Cold War to the fog that lay beyond.

    Jan 24, 2022

  • Silhouettes of human heads with thumbs up and thumbs down symbols, photo by SIphotography/Getty Images

    Commentary

    American Deterrence's Missing Half

    If American deterrence fails, it may not be because adversaries doubt U.S. military capabilities so much as they doubt American willpower. Shifting those perceptions will require not just defense authorizations, but also repairing the social fabric here at home.

    Jan 24, 2022

  • Ukraine soldiers engaging in military training in various unknown locations, January 20, 2022, photo by EyePress News/Reuters

    Commentary

    U.S. Military Aid to Ukraine: A Silver Bullet?

    U.S. military assistance to Ukraine now will at best be marginal in affecting the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. It might be morally justified to help a U.S. partner at risk of aggression. But given the scale of the potential threat to Ukraine and its forces, the most effective way Washington can help is to work on finding a diplomatic solution.

    Jan 21, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    U.S.-Russia Diplomacy, Citizen Science, America's Blood Supply: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on U.S.-Russia diplomacy in the context of the Ukraine crisis, the value of citizen science, strengthening the America's blood supply, and more.

    Jan 21, 2022

  • U.S. President Joe Biden holds virtual talks with Russia's President Vladimir Putin at the White House in Washington, D.C., December 7, 2021, photo by The White House/Handout via Reuters

    Commentary

    Biden's Rhetoric on Ukraine Has Been Quite Moderate. Here's What That Means

    President Biden's public statements since December have focused on how further Russian invasion of Ukraine would result in material consequences. His rhetorical restraint may have important implications for the current conflict.

    Jan 18, 2022

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman meets with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, June 1, 2021, photo by U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh/Public Domain

    Commentary

    Could the U.S. Play Offense in China's Back Yard?

    Relations with Cambodia and Laos have fallen victim to the U.S. administration's foreign policy priority of shared values over shared interests. This approach has failed to make headway in Cambodia and Laos, isolates the United States in a region where few countries are true democracies, and unnecessarily cedes ground to Beijing.

    Jan 13, 2022

  • U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov attend security talks, Geneva, Switzerland, January 10, 2022, photo by Denis Balibouse/Reuters

    Commentary

    Speaking Aloud What NATO Has Left Unsaid Could Help Ease Ukraine-Russia Impasse

    A statement that NATO has no intention to offer Ukraine membership at present should only be made in return for a tangible drawdown of Russian forces on the border. It concedes nothing to declare that NATO is not planning to do something it has no intention of doing anyway.

    Jan 13, 2022

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Extremism and Substance Use Disorder, Criminal Background Checks, Vaccine Diplomacy: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on the parallels between extremism and substance use disorder, a better way to measure recidivism risk, global vaccine diplomacy, and more.

    Jan 7, 2022

  • Journal Article

    Journal Article

    Decoupling from China: How U.S. Asian Allies Responded to the Huawei Ban

    The paper analyzes how Australia, Japan, and South Korea responded to Washington's expectations of mutual support on the decoupling of Chinese technology companies from global supply chains.

    Jan 6, 2022

  • “Checkmate,” the new Sukhoi fifth-generation stealth fighter jet, at the opening ceremony of the MAKS 2021 air show in Zhukovsky, Russia, July 20, 2021, photo by Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters

    Commentary

    Is Russia's Su-75 'Checkmate' Aircraft a Case of Vapor Marketing?

    During a Moscow air show last summer, Russia rolled out a mockup of the Su-75, a multipurpose fighter-bomber designed to compete in the global marketplace. But given the Russian aerospace sector's difficulties in developing, let alone delivering, advanced combat aircraft, prospective buyers should consider a range of options to meet defense needs.

    Jan 6, 2022

  • Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Murasame-class Yuudachi transits the South China Sea during a joint operation photo exercise, October 28, 2021, photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Langholf/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Taiwan and Six Potential New Year's Resolutions for the U.S.-Japanese Alliance

    How might the United States and Japan prepare for possible conflict with China over Taiwan, and ensure forces are postured to operate together? The alliance could benefit from greater clarity, and practical conversations could make a better and stronger alliance in the new year.

    Jan 5, 2022

  • A woman leaves a voting booth during the parliamentary election at a polling station in Seoul, South Korea, April 10, 2020, photo by Heo Ran/Reuters

    Commentary

    South Korea's Presidential Election: Beyond Mudslinging, What Gives?

    The 2022 South Korean presidential campaign has focused largely on personal attacks and allegations of corruption with little attention being paid to pressing issues facing the nation. The absence of meaningful policy debate and clarity on policy deliverables will continue to leave the South Korean electorate largely uninformed about what may be the most important decision they will make in 2022.

    Jan 3, 2022

  • An illustration of a globe and climate control, image by T.L. Furrer/Adobe Stock

    Essay

    Manipulating the Climate: What Are the Geopolitical Risks?

    Geoengineering technologies that could block the sun's rays or siphon huge amounts of carbon from the air are not that far out of reach. Yet the international community has not established the kinds of guardrails you might expect for potentially world-changing technologies.

    Dec 29, 2021

  • COVAX program vaccines arrive at the Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport, in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador, March 11, 2021, photo by Jose Cabezas/Reuters

    Commentary

    America Can Still Deliver on Global Vaccine Diplomacy

    It is hard to see how science alone can end the pandemic without the rallying power of global diplomacy. The United States has played a leadership role in previous outbreaks, such as Ebola. It could play a similar role now to help consign the current pandemic to epidemic status.

    Dec 28, 2021

  • Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during the National Day celebration in Taipei, Taiwan, October 10, 2021, photo by Ann Wang/Reuters

    Commentary

    Taiwan Would Be Better Off Alone

    Relinquishing diplomatic partners could free Taiwan from an unwinnable competition with China and refocus attention on what really matters: reducing China's coercive power by strengthening relationships with powers that can truly help.

    Dec 23, 2021

  • Jacqueline Burns, bottom right, with Ambassador Donald Booth, at an Internally Displaced Person camp in Darfur, Sudan, in 2016, over a map of Sudan, photo courtesy of Jacqueline Burns; images by oxygen and JeanUrsula/Getty Images; design by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

    Q&A

    Helping People Affected by Conflict: Q&A with Jacqueline Burns

    From the Air Force to Africa to RAND, Jacqueline Burns resolved to help people whose lives have been torn apart by conflict or disaster. As a senior policy analyst she wants to be a part of finding better solutions to the complex questions of peace and security.

    Dec 22, 2021

  • View of Pakistan and Taliban flags at the Friendship Gate crossing point in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan, August 27, 2021, photo by Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters

    Commentary

    Complex Calculations Shape Pakistan-TTP Negotiations

    Pakistan sees the Taliban as a facilitator of discussions with the TTP, as an ally in persuading the TTP to negotiate, and as a guarantor of whatever agreement is reached. And given the Taliban's diplomatic isolation and desperate economic situation, Pakistan can in return assist Afghanistan's new rulers in gaining acceptance and aid.

    Dec 20, 2021