North Korea, Sexual Violence in the U.S. Military, America's Labor Shortage: RAND Weekly Recap

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November 5, 2021

This week, we discuss a new approach to managing a nuclear-armed North Korea; what RAND research has revealed about sexual violence in the military; understanding the U.S. labor shortage; RAND's Benjamin Preston at the U.N. climate summit; what schools need to support the sudden arrival of immigrant children; and “red flags” before the Capitol attack.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a Report on Enlarged Meeting of the 2nd Political Bureau of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this image released July 5, 2021, photo by KCNA via Reuters

Photo by KCNA via Reuters

How to Deal with a Nuclear North Korea

So far, it looks like the Biden administration will stick with its predecessors' approach to addressing North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

According to a new paper by RAND's David Shlapak, this is not the right strategy. “Continuing to focus on the unachievable goal of convincing North Korea to surrender its nuclear weapons,” he says, “can only confuse and complicate the very real strategic challenge of managing a nuclear-armed North Korea.”

Instead, the United States should focus on deterring Pyongyang from using its nuclear weapons to attack or coerce other states, and on negotiating to control further development of its arsenal.

Only by approaching the situation with “clear eyes and realistic expectations” can U.S. policy ensure that peace on the Korean Peninsula continues, says Shlapak.

BriGette McCoy, former specialist in the U.S. Army, testifies before a Senate Committee on Armed Services hearing on sexual assault in the military in March 2013, photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images

BriGette McCoy, a former specialist in the U.S. Army and a sexual assault survivor, testified before Congress in March 2013

Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP Images

Preventing Sexual Violence in the Military

In 2013, BriGette McCoy, a former soldier and a sexual assault survivor, testified at a congressional hearing on sexual violence in the military. “Let's not just pluck a few leaves and trim the branch,” she said. “Let's deal with this from the roots. Please make it stop.” McCoy's personal plea is consistent with what years of evidence from RAND research has shown: To prevent sexual misconduct, the military needs to do more, do it better, and do it now. One recent study offers an outline for the kind of bold actions that may be required to finally address this problem.

A playground before students arrive at school in Harbor City, California, August 16, 2021, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

A playground before students arrive at school in Harbor City, California, August 16, 2021

Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Addressing Immigration Doesn't End at the Border: Schools Need Help

Huge numbers of migrants at the southern U.S. border. Tens of thousands of refugees from Afghanistan. Thousands of people displaced by disasters in Haiti. How are U.S. schools dealing with the sudden arrival of immigrant children? A recent RAND study shows that school districts need help to support these vulnerable students, including more funding, new approaches to instruction, and better teacher preparation—because the arrivals aren't slowing down anytime soon.

Woman using a laptop while her children hug her, photo by FG Trade/Getty Images

Photo by FG Trade/Getty Images

America's Labor Shortage: Insights from Married Moms

The U.S. workforce is 4.3 million people smaller than it was before the pandemic. And millions more appear to be quitting their jobs and looking for something better. One way to see this, says RAND economist Kathryn Edwards, is that these workers are now echoing what married mothers have been saying for decades as they try to balance work and childcare: The working conditions of many jobs, especially part-time jobs, are not worth the pay.

Senior Policy Researcher Benjamin Preston, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Benjamin Preston is director of RAND's Community Health and Environmental Policy Program

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

RAND's Benjamin Preston at the U.N. Climate Summit

The U.N. climate summit, COP26, kicked off in Glasgow this week. RAND's Benjamin Preston contributed to the conference, discussing the progress made so far in limiting global warming and the challenges that lie ahead. What we cannot forget, Preston said, is that many people around the world—especially low-income populations, communities of color, and marginalized groups—are already experiencing the adverse effects of climate change.

Supporters of Donald Trump scale a wall as they storm the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021, photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Trump supporters scale a wall during an attack on the U.S. Capitol, January 6, 2021

Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

'Red Flags' Before the Capitol Attack

Donell Harvin recently joined RAND as a senior policy researcher. Before that, he was Chief of Homeland Security and Intelligence for the Government of the District of Columbia. In the days leading up to the Capitol attack, Harvin and his team spotted increasing signs that supporters of then-President Donald Trump were planning violence. These warning signs were more than just chatter, Harvin said. It was an “avalanche of information” that they analyzed and disseminated as widely as possible as January 6th drew near.

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