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June 28, 2019

Road Safety, Venezuela, Mental Health: RAND Weekly Recap

This week, we discuss completely eliminating traffic fatalities; America's flawed decisionmaking on “wars of choice”; a promising mental health social marketing campaign in California; competing with Russia and China in the “gray zone”; the U.S. approach to Venezuela; and the problems with China's “one country, two systems” policy.

Aerial view of a highway junction at night, photo by DKart/Getty Images

Photo by DKart/Getty Images

How to End U.S. Roadway Deaths by 2050

Tens of thousands of people die on American roads every year. What would it take to bring that number down to zero? RAND research finds that this could be achieved by 2050. How? Transform how we think about road safety; invest in innovative technology such as autonomous vehicles; and stop accepting car crashes as car accidents. “We shouldn't accept deaths or serious injuries on the road,” says senior policy analyst Liisa Ecola. “But we kind of do, because it happens all the time and you never hear about it.”

Bomb blasts and artillery fire thundered across Baghdad as U.S. forces tightened their grip on the capital's fringes and brought up more troops, April 6, 2003, photo by Faleh Kheiber/Reuters

Bomb blasts and artillery fire thundered across Baghdad as U.S. forces tightened their grip on the capital's fringes and brought up more troops, April 6, 2003

Photo by Faleh Kheiber/Reuters

Changing How America Decides on 'Wars of Choice'

America's vast power, combined with the weakness of most of its enemies, has allowed the United States to “get away with a striking absence of deliberative judgment when deciding on war.” That's according to RAND's Michael Mazarr. But today, the potential stakes of entering into a war of choice—for example, with Iran—are greater than ever. It's time to rethink how the United States decides to embrace these wars, he says—before it's too late.

 woman reading her cell phone while sitting on stairs, photo by Mixmike/Getty Images

Photo by Mixmike/Getty Images

Social Marketing for Mental Health Treatment May Help Those in Need

About one in five people in the United States have a mental health problem, but less than half of them receive treatment. To get help for more people, California launched an unprecedented social marketing campaign focused on reducing the stigma around mental health issues. A new RAND study shows some positive results. The campaign appears to have led more people to seek care for their symptoms of mental distress.

Fishing boats departing from Shenjiawan port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province towards the East China Sea fishing grounds, September 17, 2012, photo by Stringer/Reuters

Fishing boats depart Shenjiawan port and head toward the East China Sea fishing grounds, September 17, 2012

Photo by Stringer/Reuters

How to Get an Edge in the 'Gray Zone'

The United States is entering a period of intensifying strategic competition, most notably with Russia and China. This contest is expected to play out below the threshold of armed conflict—the “gray zone” between peace and war. How should Washington respond? A new RAND report finds that the most important principle to keep in mind is to not merely try to mitigate losses in the gray zone. U.S. leaders should also seek to gain a strategic advantage.

A protester poses for a portrait during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, February 2, 2019, photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

A protester poses for a portrait during a rally against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's government in Caracas, February 2, 2019

Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

What Should the U.S. Do About Venezuela?

Economic sanctions have been the centerpiece of U.S. efforts to liberate Venezuela from Nicolás Maduro's rule. This is consistent with the “maximum pressure” strategy that the Trump administration has used elsewhere. But what if it becomes evident that Maduro isn't about to fall? In that case, U.S. officials should consider repealing sanctions that weigh most heavily on the Venezuelan people, says RAND's James Dobbins. Meanwhile, the administration could continue to target and isolate the Maduro regime.

Protesters outside police headquarters demand Hong Kong's leaders to step down and withdraw the extradition bill, in Hong Kong, June 21, 2019, photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

Protesters demand that Hong Kong leaders withdraw a bill allowing residents suspected of crimes to be extradited to mainland China, June 21, 2019

Photo by Tyrone Siu/Reuters

One Country, Two Systems, Lots of Problems

There are new questions about the viability of China's “one country, two systems” policy. Despite ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, as well as fierce resistance to the policy in Taiwan, Chinese President Xi Jinping remains committed to implementing it on strict terms. That's according to RAND's Derek Grossman. The policy appears to hold promise only when left completely unchallenged, as in Macau, he says.

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