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June 21, 2019

Iran, School Discipline, North Korea: RAND Weekly Recap

This week, we discuss rising U.S.–Iran tensions; defending NATO in cyberspace; educators' views on student discipline; the threat from North Korea; young adults who live near medical marijuana dispensaries; and the outlook for Russia's military power.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani and Russia's President Vladimir Putin attend a meeting on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 14, 2019, photo by Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 14, 2019

Photo by Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

The Mounting Costs of a U.S.–Iran Faceoff

Tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman. Iran's growing uranium stockpiles. Ongoing U.S. sanctions. And yesterday morning, reports that Iran shot down a U.S. drone.

Tensions between the United States and Iran are rising. Even if the two countries can avoid a military clash, there are still long-term costs for U.S. interests and regional stability. That's according to RAND's Dalia Dassa Kaye. Washington's maximum pressure campaign has led to angry U.S. allies and energized adversaries (including Russia), a more dangerous Iran, and the continued risk of military conflict. What's more, she says, these trends may be difficult to reverse.

NATO flag against a background of binary numbers, photo by robsonphoto/Adobe Stock

Photo by robsonphoto/Adobe Stock

Defending NATO in Cyberspace

Reports this week detailed escalating U.S. cyber attacks on Russia's power grid. This is a reminder that cyberspace is a new, rapidly growing military domain. How can NATO defend itself on this battlefield? In a new paper, RAND experts analyze the alliance's efforts to bolster its cyber defenses. They outline what NATO has done so far, and what it must focus on going forward. One particularly important capability is indications and warning—collecting information about potential threats to provide early warnings of malicious activity.

A row of lockers in a high school, photo by Monkey Business Images/Getty Images

Photo by Monkey Business Images/Getty Images

Time for Discipline Reform in U.S. Schools?

In the late 1980s, many schools enacted “zero-tolerance” discipline policies. But there are longstanding concerns about this approach. Harsh discipline practices may have negative consequences. Evidence also suggests persistent disparities in how the policies are applied. What do educators think? According to a new RAND survey, a large share of high school teachers and principals want to prioritize discipline reform in their schools. Educators in high-poverty schools are the most interested in reform.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervises a strike drill during a military drill in North Korea, May 4, 2019, photo by KCNA/Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervises a strike drill during a military drill in North Korea, May 4, 2019

Photo by KCNA/Reuters

The North Korea Problem Is Bigger Than Nukes

Last week marked one year since the historic U.S.–North Korea summit in Singapore. While Washington has little to show in the way of denuclearization, disarming North Korea's nuclear arsenal remains a top priority. But U.S. efforts to address the threat from Pyongyang may need to go further, says RAND's Soo Kim. The United States and its allies could also take steps to address the regime's illicit revenue-generating schemes, “sanctions-skirting tactics,” and poor human rights record, she says.

A medical marijuana dispensary in Venice Beach, California, July 16, 2014, photo by Juanmonino/Getty Images

A medical marijuana dispensary in Venice Beach, California, July 16, 2014

Photo by Juanmonino/Getty Images

Living Near Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Linked to Greater Use

Dispensaries are popping up across the country as more and more states legalize medical marijuana. A new RAND study finds that young adults who live near more of these dispensaries use marijuana more frequently than their peers. They also have more-positive views about the substance. Notably, these links were strongest among young people who lived near dispensaries that had storefront signs.

Russian military vehicles are seen in eastern Ghouta near Douma, in Damascus, Syria, April 23, 2018, photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

Russian military vehicles in Damascus, Syria, April 23, 2018

Photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

The Future of Russia's Ground Forces

What might Moscow do over the next two decades to improve its ground combat capabilities? And how could those efforts affect U.S.–Russia competition and the U.S. Army? New RAND research suggests that Moscow will likely focus on several key areas, including long-range strike capabilities, air defense, and electronic warfare. While our experts don't expect a major ground war with Russia, it's important for the United States and its allies to prepare for direct conflict.

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