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Childhood Trauma, Space Traffic, China–Russia Relations: RAND Weekly Recap

April 26, 2019

This week, we discuss an in-school program that helps children cope with trauma; ways the United States can exploit Russia's weaknesses; how women make the U.S. Coast Guard stronger; avoiding satellite collisions in space; human smuggling from Central America; and the strengthening ties between China and Russia.

Children take shelter under desks during an earthquake simulation in an evacuation drill in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2017, photo by Issei Kato/Reuters

Children take shelter under desks during an earthquake simulation in an evacuation drill in Tokyo, Japan, March 10, 2017

Photo by Issei Kato/Reuters

Childhood Trauma Is More Common Than You Think. This Program Can Help

Research has shown that exposure to trauma is more the rule for children than the exception. The impacts are far-reaching. Childhood traumas are linked to poorer academic performance, decreased reading ability, and lower high school graduation rates. Kids exposed to trauma also face mental and physical health problems later in life.

To tackle this problem, RAND researchers developed the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools, or CBITS, more than two decades ago. Since then, the program has been used to help students from Newtown, Connecticut, to Fukushima, Japan. And now, the researchers are tailoring CBITS for children in Puerto Rico whose lives were upended by hurricanes.

Red Square in Moscow, Russia, photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

Photo by mnn/Adobe Stock

How the U.S. Could 'Overextend' Russia

Russia's use of information warfare and its military arsenal make it a formidable U.S. opponent. But Russia has many vulnerabilities. According to a new RAND report, there are a number of nonviolent ways the United States could exploit the Kremlin's weaknesses while undermining its current advantages. The most-promising options involve putting more pressure on the Russian economy.

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2019 reports to campus on R-Day, June 29, 2015, photo by PO2 Cory J. Mendenhall/U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Class of 2019 reports to campus on R-Day, June 29, 2015

Photo by PO2 Cory J. Mendenhall/U.S. Coast Guard

Women Make the Coast Guard Stronger

RAND's Robert Parker is a retired Coast Guard vice admiral. In his decades of service, he has led both all-male and mixed-gender crews. He prefers the latter—by far. With women in the ranks, he says “much-needed candor, directness, and order abound in ways they might not when units are packed only with good but rambunctious young men.”

Three tiny satellites photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station, October 4, 2012, photo by NASA

Three tiny satellites photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station, October 4, 2012

Photo by NASA

Satellite Traffic Control: Making Space Safer

Space is becoming more and more congested with satellites. To avoid collisions, most spacefaring nations communicate and share satellite position data. But a few countries, notably Russia and China, do not. What's more, these two countries may be developing “kamikaze satellites.” RAND's Bruce McClintock says this highlights the need for greater transparency in space—and for new international rules to hold non-compliant actors accountable.

Central America on a globe, photo by Bobtokyoharris/Getty Images

Photo by Birute/Getty Images

Human Smuggling from Central America

Smuggling unlawful migrants from Central America to the United States generated an estimated $200 million to $2.3 billion for human smugglers in 2017. That's according to a new report from the Homeland Security Operational Analysis Center, operated by RAND. Notably, the study finds that transnational criminal organizations are not the only—or even the main—human smugglers along these routes. Many other actors, including ad hoc groups and independent operators, engage in the practice.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018, photo by Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet during the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018

Photo by Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters

China-Russia Relations Are Warming

The relationship between China and Russia is stronger than it has been in decades. Despite this alignment, the United States should treat each country as a separate strategic challenge, say RAND experts. China is a resurgent power focused on achieving economic and technological preeminence. By contrast, Russia is a declining power focused on stirring up military and ideological chaos.

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