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Taliban, Health Care, Russia: RAND Weekly Recap

February 1, 2019

This week, we discuss threats from Russia and China; direct talks between the United States and the Taliban; babies born with opioid withdrawal; single-payer health care; Russia's hostile measures in Europe; and investing in early childhood education.

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.

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

Photo by Jason Lee/Reuters

Russia Is a Rogue. China Is a Peer.

Both Russia and China seek to alter the status quo of the international order. But they pose different challenges for U.S. national security. In a new paper, RAND experts call Russia a “well-armed rogue state.” It represents a more immediate military threat, albeit one the United States can contain. China, on the other hand, is a peer competitor. It presents a regional military challenge—and a global economic one.

U.S. military advisers from the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade walk at an Afghan National Army base in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan, August 6, 2018, photo by James Mackenzie/Reuters

U.S. military advisers from the 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade walk at an Afghan National Army base in Maidan Wardak province, Afghanistan, August 6, 2018

Photo by James Mackenzie/Reuters

The Difficult Road to Peace in Afghanistan

U.S. and Taliban officials have reportedly agreed to a framework for a peace deal in Afghanistan. If the Taliban agrees to a cease-fire and wider negotiations, there may be reason to celebrate. But a deal would only be a first step on a long and difficult road, says RAND's James Dobbins. Whether it leads to lasting peace in Afghanistan depends on many factors, including American endurance.

Nurses working in a neonatal unit

Photo by ER Productions Limited/Getty Images

New Findings on Increase in Babies Born with Opioid Withdrawal

Babies born after being exposed to opioids are more likely to be delivered in regions of the United States with high rates of long-term unemployment and lower levels of mental health services. That's according to a new study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and RAND. The findings illustrate that America's opioid crisis isn't just a health care problem—it's also a social problem. Solutions will need to address communities' social needs as well as their health care needs.

Making Sense of 'Single Payer'

More and more U.S. policymakers are discussing “Medicare for All” and other single-payer health care proposals. What do they need to know when thinking through the likely effects? According to a recent congressional briefing by RAND's Jodi Liu, the ultimate impact depends on how a plan is designed and paid for. In assessing any single-payer proposal, it's important to remember that there are trade-offs, she says.

A map depicting Russian influence over Europe

Image by RAND Corporation

Russia's Hostile Measures in Europe

Russia uses a wide range of hostile measures—also known as measures short of war—to exert influence across Europe. A new RAND report examines how Moscow might use these tactics over the next few years and outlines options for how the United States could counter them. Whatever the U.S. response, it should involve preparation for a wide range of conflicts. This will help reduce the risk of mismanagement, miscalculation, and escalation.

Female teacher with preschool boys and girls learning alphabet in classroom

Photo by RUSS ROHDE/Getty Images

Investing in Early Childhood Education in New Hampshire

A new RAND report provides recommendations to help enhance early childhood education in New Hampshire. Namely, it says investments should first go to communities with the greatest need, but also those with low rates of early childhood enrollment. This report is a follow-on to a 2017 RAND study. It found the state could gain $2 to $6 in benefits for every $1 spent on two types of evidence-based programs: home visiting and preschool education.

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