This week, we discuss the effects of the abrupt U.S. withdrawal from Syria; how drones could help get blood to soldiers who need it; insights on climate policy; a historical look at impeachment; how U.S. pressure on China can weaken North Korea; and an alternative to zero-tolerance discipline in schools.
What choices did the Trump administration have in eastern Syria? According to RAND experts, there were three: staying indefinitely; preparing an orderly exit, thereby opening the way for the return of the Syrian state and its allies; or leaving suddenly without warning.
Lacking an orderly process for planning and executing national security decisions, the administration “ultimately defaulted to the worst of these alternatives,” they say. There are two distinct grounds for criticizing the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops. First, it has provided an opening for Russia, along with Assad and Iran, to fill the power vacuum. And second, it left the Kurds, a U.S. partner, to fend off a Turkish assault.
Autonomous drones may be an effective way to deliver blood that helps save the lives of U.S. military personnel. Drones could get blood to difficult-to-access areas faster and help bolster the military's blood supply network. A new RAND report examines key questions about this emerging form of blood transport. What's the optimal design for these drones? What are the cost and efficiency considerations? And how might factors such as delivery times and extreme temperatures affect blood quality?
RAND's Benjamin Preston specializes in climate risk and adaptation, and its flip side, disaster recovery and resilience. In a new Q&A, he explains why we need science to help understand the risks of climate change and to better inform tough decisions. Specifically, he debunks common misconceptions about climate change, makes the case for climate change “triage,” and describes what individual communities can do right now to mitigate future threats.
What's it like to work in the White House during an impeachment? RAND's James Dobbins, who served as a special assistant to President Clinton in the late '90s, has firsthand experience. He recalls “impeachment season” as a time when President Clinton seemed to redouble his attention to international issues. His strategy was to focus on the nation's business and leave his defense to others, says Dobbins. But unlike the Clinton impeachment, foreign affairs are at the heart of today's controversy.
Chinese support of North Korea boosts the legitimacy of Pyongyang's growing nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities. This makes the U.S. goal of denuclearization even harder to achieve. But according to RAND's Soo Kim, it may also give Washington a point of leverage. Exerting consistent and targeted political, economic, and security pressure on China could weaken the potency of North Korea's nuclear weapons and bargaining power, she says.
Restorative practices are methods for resolving conflict that focus on building and repairing relationships. In schools, these approaches are emerging as an alternative to zero-tolerance policies. RAND experts say that restorative practices are not a cure-all, but they can contribute to an overall solution when they're implemented well. Teaching children to treat one another with respect has the potential to make schools safer—and help kids get along better throughout their lives.
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