International Affairs
Congressional Newsletter
Quarterly updates to Congress on RAND's work in international affairs

What Are U.S. Policy Choices in Responding to Iran's Nuclear Future?

The Iranian Flag

As Iran's nuclear program continues to evolve, U.S. decisionmakers will confront a series of critical policy choices--choices that could include different options for dissuading Iran from developing nuclear weapons and other options to deter Iran from using its nuclear weapons if it were to acquire them. Using an analytical framework designed for the new strategic environment that is grounded in a critical regional analysis, a RAND study for the U.S. Air Force describes the complex considerations underlying future U.S. policy choices in responding to Iran's evolving nuclear program, assesses their potential effectiveness, and uncovers where policy trade-offs will be required.

The study shows that to be successful, the United States will need to find ways to influence Iran's calculations of costs and benefits as Iran pursues its national security interests--survival of the regime, protection of the homeland, and expansion of its regional influence. The United States will also need to reassure its regional partners that its deterrent posture is credible so as to both reduce the Gulf Cooperation Council states' potential interest in developing their own nuclear weapons and dissuade Israel from pursuing unilateral military actions or openly declaring its nuclear posture.

The study concludes that U.S. Air Force, through the combatant commanders' air components, will play a prominent role in implementing the policy choices. As such, it needs to prepare by understanding the goals and timelines of potential military tasks and by designing exercises and war games to support different policy choices.

READ THE REPORT: Iran's Nuclear Future: Critical U.S. Policy Choices

Understanding Demographic and Economic Trends in the Arab World

A City In Morroco

In the Arab world--the Arabic-speaking countries stretching from Morocco to Oman--demographic and economic trends will dramatically impact U.S. interests in the region. A RAND report assesses such trends through 2020, focusing on changes likely to affect U.S. defense planning and U.S. policy in the region.

The study finds that over the next decade, the rapid pace of population growth will continue to slow, but the numbers of young people entering the labor force will continue to rise, while employment opportunities in government will decline. This could create a potentially explosive disconnect between societal expectations and government capacity.

In terms of economics, economic output in the “energy rich” countries of this region will continue to be closely linked to oil output and prices, but oil and gas exports will likely serve more as an economic foundation than a driver of growth. The economies of the “energy poor” countries in the Arab world were hurt by the global recession, but are now recovering and are projected to continue to grow.

With the advent of the “Arab Spring,” Arab societies are increasingly driving policy decisions in these countries. U.S. policy can support changes beneficial to Arab societies and U.S. policy interests. Continued U.S. support for family planning programs and female education provide the freedom for Arab families to make decisions resulting in lower fertility rates, slowing population growth and easing pressures on natural resources and public services. More-relaxed U.S. and European immigration and visa policies toward Middle East citizens can enhance political and community ties between Arabs and the West. Through the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the United States should encourage policies of economic liberalization and free trade to accelerate economic growth, generating more employment and higher incomes.

READ THE REPORT: Future Challenges for the Arab World: The Implications of Demographic and Economic Trends

Assessing the Relative Attainment and Prospects of China and India in 2025

A Bustling Chinese City

As the world's two most populous nations, China and India will exercise increasing influence in international affairs in the coming decades, and each country's role on the world stage will be affected by the progress it makes and by both the competition and cooperation that develop between them. A RAND report assesses the quantitative balance between advantages and disadvantages China and India will possess by 2025 in four domains: demography, macroeconomics, science and technology, and defense spending and procurement.

The study finds that India has distinct advantages over China in terms of demographics; that the two countries are surprisingly close in terms of forecasted economic growth, but China's overall economic output is likely to remain significantly higher than India's; and that, for both science and technology and defense spending and procurement, China's current substantial margins over India are likely to rise but by amounts that will vary widely depending on several alternative scenarios.

The study concludes that prospects for India to enhance its competitive position with China may be better than China's chances to do the same, because India's political-economic system allows a greater degree of economic freedom and provides an environment more conducive to entrepreneurial, innovative, and inventive activity. The study also concludes that by adopting or failing to adopt suitable policies, the two countries can perhaps alter the balance of advantages and disadvantages between them and that to a much more limited extent, U.S. and “third” party policies may also be able to affect this balance.

READ THE REPORT: China and India, 2025: A Comparative Assessment

RESEARCHER PROFILE

Greg Ridgeway

Greg Ridgeway

Greg Ridgeway is the director of RAND's Safety and Justice Research Program and director of RAND's Center on Quality Policing, charged with managing RAND's portfolio of work on policing, crime prevention, courts, corrections, and public and occupational safety. Ridgeway has worked with many of law enforcement agencies in the United States (such as New York City and Los Angeles) and internationally with active research projects in Israel and Abu Dhabi. He has worked with dozens of law enforcement agencies, local police, federal agencies, and non-U.S. police forces on predictive policing, recruiting, gun violence, community relations, use of force, racial profiling, and other key policing issues. His current work involves restoring public trust in the Israel Police, reducing police complaints in Chicago, improving police efficiency with predictive policing, and establishing a public safety research center with the Abu Dhabi Police. Ridgeway received his Ph.D. and M.S. in statistics from the University of Washington and his B.S. in statistics from California Polytechnic State University.

Read more about Greg Ridgeway »


RAND CONGRESSIONAL RESOURCES STAFF

Lindsey Kozberg
Vice President, Office of External Affairs

Winfield Boerckel
Director, Office of Congressional Relations

Kurt Card
International Affairs Legislative Analyst

RAND Office of Congressional Relations
(703) 413-1100, ext. 5395


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RAND has been conducting research on international policy for more than 50 years. Focused primarily on countries other than the United States, this research includes security and military, as well as social and economic, policy. To view international affairs research, go to http://www.rand.org/topics/international-affairs.html.

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