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

  • 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

  • An Afghan woman holds her child as she and others wait to receive package being distributed by a Turkish humanitarian aid group in Kabul, Afghanistan, December 15, 2021, photo by Ali Khara/Reuters

    Commentary

    It's Time for the West to Engage with the Taliban

    As a winter crisis looms, the Afghan people need support more than ever. Economic collapse and isolation risk provoking deeper instability, insecurity, and repression. The international community should now look seriously at making a deal with the Taliban to address these risks.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual U.S.-ASEAN Summit at the White House in Washington, D.C., October 26, 2021, photo by Gripas Yuri/ABACA via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    Biden's Southeast Asia Policy Still Has Much to Prove

    As the Biden administration's first year comes to a close, how is the United States faring in Southeast Asia? Washington got a lot right, but it could do better to optimize competition against China and work on a more sensitive understanding of the delicate and at times precarious position Southeast Asian states are in.

    Dec 17, 2021

  • A new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile being launched in waters off the east coast of North Korea in a photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency on October 20, 2021, photo by KCNA via/Latin America News Agency via Reuters Connect

    Commentary

    North Korea's Nuclear Arsenal and Prospects for Regional Peace

    Nuclear talks between the United States and North Korea have hovered at a standstill since 2019. With the door to diplomacy seemingly closed and North Korea marching forward on weapons development and making threatening statements, what are the prospects for Pyongyang's denuclearization and peace on the Korean Peninsula?

    Dec 16, 2021

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Russia and Ukraine, Climate Migration, Democracy in Asia: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on Russia and Ukraine, planning for climate migration, the state of democracy in Asia, and more.

    Dec 10, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House in Washington, D.C., November 15, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Commentary

    Avoiding a New Surge of Regime Change

    As competition with China in the developing world heats up, the United States need not repeat the sad legacy of the Cold War with a surge of new efforts at covert regime change and harassment. Instead, America could maximize the systemic advantages it has long enjoyed, meet reformist leaders and movements in the developing world on their own terms, and trust the long-term appeal of American norms and values.

    Dec 8, 2021

  • Ukrainian Marines take part in multinational Sea Breeze 2021 military exercises involving more than 30 countries near Kherson, Ukraine, July 2, 2021, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

    Commentary

    If Russia Invaded Ukraine

    The United States and NATO worry that Russia may be planning an invasion of Ukraine. A renewed crisis could spur the United States and its NATO allies to go beyond, perhaps well beyond, their responses to Russia's 2014 assault.

    Dec 8, 2021

  • A woman casts her vote during the by-election in Port Dickson, Malaysia, October 13, 2018, photo by Lai Seng Sin/Reuters

    Report

    Democracy Remains Fragile in the Asia-Pacific

    In Asia, there has been a reduction in the number of autocracies over time but also a rise in the number of partial democracies. What makes some Asian states slide toward authoritarianism? What policies can support democratization, and how can external actors help?

    Dec 6, 2021

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    Addressing Anti-Asian Racism, Stabilizing U.S. Rivalries, the Debt-Ceiling Fight: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on countering anti-Asian racism, the instability of U.S. rivalries with Russia and China, the rise in extremist online activity, and more.

    Dec 3, 2021

  • U.S. President Joe Biden speaks virtually with Chinese leader Xi Jinping from the White House, November 15, 2021, photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

    Report

    A Guide to Extreme Competition with China

    The U.S.-China competitive dynamic is at a critical crossroads. What realistic, actionable policy options should U.S. policymakers consider in developing effective strategies for this competition?

    Dec 1, 2021

  • ROK combat medics load a simulated wounded soldier into a U.S. Army helicopter during a joint exercise in Uijongbu, South Korea, March 5, 2008, photo by MC1 Lou Rosales/U.S. Navy

    Commentary

    Preserving the ROK-U.S. Alliance by Sustaining Military Exercises

    The Republic of Korea (ROK)/U.S. military forces based in the ROK are in a constant state of training, which is required to maintain military effectiveness. North Korea seeks to stop this ROK/U.S. military training, but taking the North Korean complaints seriously could be a mistake.

    Nov 30, 2021

  • Army personnel from the U.S. and China participate in expert academic dialogue during the U.S.-China Disaster Management Exchange, in Kunming, China, November 2016, photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Behlin/U.S. Army

    Report

    Stabilizing Great-Power Rivalries

    The international system is headed for a renewed era of intense competition among major powers. And there are serious grounds for concern about U.S. rivalries with Russia and China. To ensure stability—and avoid war—the policy response should be nuanced and go beyond bolstering military capabilities.

    Nov 29, 2021

  • Old wooden chess board with map, photo by Chess board: ChrisAt/Getty Images/iStockphoto. Map: pc/Getty Images Chess pieces: TheUltimatePhotographer/iStockphoto

    Report

    Implementing China's Grand Strategy in Asia Through Institutions: An Exploratory Analysis

    In this report, the authors review the literature on China's grand strategy and discuss China's use of institutions in implementing its grand strategy toward Asian nations of interest to China, including the countries of the Korean Peninsula.

    Nov 29, 2021

  • RAND Weekly Recap

    Blog

    U.S. 'Entanglement,' Global Health Cooperation, Community Stress: RAND Weekly Recap

    This weekly recap focuses on competing claims about U.S. partnerships and allies, responding to Russia's tactics in Ukraine, helping communities recover from stress, and more.

    Nov 26, 2021