International Diplomacy

Featured

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.

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a ceremony marking the second anniversary of the attempted coup at the presidential palace in Ankara, July 15, 2018, photo by Umit Bektas/Reuters

    Report

    Turkey's Nationalist Course and How It Affects U.S.-Turkish Relations

    Jan 14, 2020

    America's longstanding partnership with Turkey, a powerful NATO ally, has become strained in recent years. Their interests are not as aligned as they once were, and tensions between Turkey and Europe have exacerbated these strains. What can be done to sustain the U.S.-Turkish relationship?

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China, November 5, 2019, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    What to Expect from China in 2020

    Jan 3, 2020

    Last year was an eventful one in China, with U.S.–China trade tensions escalating, protests in Hong Kong reaching a crisis point, and President Xi Jinping further consolidating power. What might the rest of the world expect from China in 2020?

Explore International Diplomacy

  • Mourners carry the coffin of Amin Karimi, a member of Iranian Revolutionary Guards who was killed in Syria, during his funeral in Tehran, October 28, 2015

    Commentary

    America's Indefinite Endgame in Syria

    The Trump administration's position on the Syrian civil war has shifted from countering ISIS to containing Iran. America will remain in Syria as long as Iran does. But an unending timetable for the withdrawal of troops is far more problematic for Washington than it is for Tehran.

    Oct 16, 2018

  • U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un walk at the Capella Hotel on the island of Sentosa, Singapore, June 12, 2018

    Commentary

    North Korean Actions Speak Louder Than Its Words

    Kim Jong Un has regularly promised to denuclearize, but he's been all talk. And this year, North Korea has probably built five to nine more nuclear weapons. There are steps that could make a difference if taken before the North Korean nuclear weapon threat grows any further.

    Oct 11, 2018

  • Edward Gonzalez

    Announcement

    Statement About Edward Gonzalez, RAND Consultant and Expert on Cuba

    Edward Gonzalez, a longtime RAND resident consultant and political science professor at UCLA who spent decades studying Fidel Castro's Cuba and its relations with the United States and the former Soviet Union, has died. He was 85.

    Oct 9, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on September 4, 2018

    Commentary

    What Does China's Pursuit of a Global Coalition Mean for World Politics?

    As disputes between Beijing and Washington over trade and other issues intensify, analysts have highlighted domestic factors as reasons why President Xi Jinping may resist compromise. However, China's pursuit of a greater international leadership role likely plays an overlooked, but increasingly important role.

    Oct 8, 2018

  • Ukrainian army landing craft Yurii Olefirenko in the Black Sea during military drills in the Kherson Region, Ukraine, September 29, 2018

    Commentary

    Russia's Neighbors Want Alternatives

    The longer Russia delays in improving relations with its neighbors, the more likely they will pursue alternative options. It is also likely that tensions will persist between those neighbors and Russia—and in Russia's relationship with the West. Efforts to ease that tension should be high on the list of Western priorities with Russia.

    Oct 4, 2018

  • Chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi makes a speech during a ceremony to receive locally-produced yellowcake, in Isfahan, Iran, December 5, 2010

    Commentary

    Can U.S. Pressure Lead to a New Iran Nuclear Deal?

    It could be a mistake for the United States to assume that more pressure will bring Iran closer to ending or reducing its ballistic missile and nuclear programs. When it comes to measures aimed at Iran's nuclear program, more pressure could worsen nuclear risks and further drive a wedge between the United States and its European allies.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Paper boats with flags of China, Japan, and the United States on a map of East Asia

    Commentary

    The Implications of U.S.-China Trade Tensions for Japan

    Washington and Beijing seem prepared to begin decoupling from one another economically, which puts Tokyo in a difficult position. Japan may have to devise new strategies not only for sustaining its growth, but also for insulating itself from the impact of deteriorating relations between the United States and China.

    Sep 18, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin following Russian-Chinese talks at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia, September 11, 2018

    Commentary

    Huge Military Drills Show Both the Limits and the Durability of China-Russia Ties

    The appearance of military cooperation between China and Russia masks deep strategic distrust and suspicion. But despite these real limitations, strong incentives and a lack of alternatives provide a sturdy foundation for a continued strategic partnership going forward.

    Sep 11, 2018

  • The Department of State in Washington, D.C.

    Commentary

    Reforming Security Assistance: Why the State Department Can't Lead from Behind

    The reforms in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act are driving the Department of Defense to improve security cooperation planning. Similar reforms for the State Department could help leaders there more effectively communicate the value of security assistance and maintain their traditional leadership role.

    Sep 5, 2018

  • Eroding world map

    Commentary

    Taking Stock of a Shifting World Order

    The postwar order seems poised to continue eroding, without a clear alternative in the offing. It has often taken cataclysmic events to inaugurate new eras of geopolitical order, but one hopes that the postwar order will instead be reinvigorated through farsighted statecraft.

    Aug 31, 2018

  • International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde speaks at a Belt and Road conference in Beijing, China, April 12, 2018

    Commentary

    The Global Order Will Outlast U.S. Leadership

    Even if America bails on the international order there is plenty of evidence that Europe, China, Japan, and the rest of the developed world will maintain existing multilateral structures and build new ones. The order will survive but may become less liberal, less democratic, and perhaps less peaceful.

    Aug 23, 2018

  • Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Fox News after a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018

    Commentary

    Walking a Fine Line on Russian Sanctions

    The United States and its allies are increasingly frustrated over malign activities by Russia. This week the U.S. unveiled new sanctions, and is expected to impose even more in the future. But choosing sanctions requires care. Their purpose should be to penalize Russia for misbehavior, but not to isolate Russians.

    Aug 22, 2018

  • Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin attend a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, June 8, 2018

    Commentary

    A U.S.-Russia Partnership Against China Is Unlikely

    After Donald Trump's summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in July, it might appear as if the U.S. and Russia are considering the formation of a partnership against China. But Russia seems more likely to try to expand the scope of its cooperation with China while also attempting to extract concessions from the United States.

    Aug 21, 2018

  • U.S. President Trump arrives to announce his decision to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, May 8, 2018

    Commentary

    Bringing Back Sanctions Will Hurt U.S. Allies and Iran, but Will It Help America?

    What happens if leaving the Iran nuclear deal and applying “maximum pressure” doesn't lead Iran to change its behavior or the regime to collapse? The Trump administration may find that it's much easier to break a deal than to replace it with something better.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • Members of the United Nations Security Council during a meeting at the U.N. headquarters in New York, April 14, 2018

    Commentary

    The Roots—and Purpose—of the Post-War Order

    As the world enters an era of greater international competition, U.S. policymakers should take care not to underestimate the importance of the postwar system. The order is far from a myth; it is the United States' most important competitive advantage.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • President Donald J. Trump and President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit, July 8, 2017

    Commentary

    Navigating Asia's Stormy Seas: Regional Perspectives on U.S.-China Competition

    Many of the key advantages the United States enjoys in a strategic competition with China depend on strong relationships with U.S. allies and partners. Beijing will certainly do its utmost to take advantage of any opportunities presented by concerns about the strength and sustainability of the U.S. role in the region.

    Aug 7, 2018

  • The U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain conducts a patrol in the South China Sea, January 22, 2017

    Commentary

    The Security Risks of a Trade War with China

    As U.S.-China trade tensions continue to rise, many observers are focused on the potential for a full-fledged trade war that could destabilize the world economy. But there are security concerns as well. A China less constrained by and invested in economic ties with the United States could pose a greater challenge to U.S. foreign policy.

    Aug 6, 2018

  • U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks on the Trump administration's Iran policy at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, May 21, 2018

    Commentary

    Regime Change in Iran: Watch What You Ask For

    Mike Pompeo's speech in May signaled a desire for regime change in Iran, but the U.S. will have to change its approach to shape a positive outcome. This could involve targeting sanctions more narrowly rather than seeking to impoverish the general population. And lifting the ban on Iranian visitors to the U.S. would be a good start.

    Aug 2, 2018

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China's President Xi Jinping, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Brazil's President Michel Temer pose for a group picture at the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 26, 2018

    Commentary

    China Prepares for an International Order After U.S. Leadership

    In Beijing's estimation, key geopolitical developments have increased the possibility that China will face a power transition with the United States in coming years. In response, Chinese officials are laying the groundwork to manage that transition and ensure a leading role for their country in the emerging international order.

    Aug 2, 2018

  • Flags of the world

    Commentary

    Attempts to Order Geopolitics Have a Sobering History

    Past efforts to introduce world order have resulted less from foresighted statecraft than from cataclysmic upheavals such as World War II. If the current international system erodes, what might have to happen for a new one to emerge?

    Jul 25, 2018