A Peacekeeping Operation in Ukraine, Synthetic Opioids, Geoengineering: RAND Weekly Recap

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April 29, 2022

This week, we discuss why now may be the time for a U.N.- or NATO-led peacekeeping mission in Ukraine; the geostrategic consequences of Russia’s war; a new way to address the synthetic opioid crisis; improving long-term outcomes for veterans with traumatic brain injury; how raising the minimum wage affects divorce rates among poor Americans; and the risks of geoengineering.

Ukrainian service members walk on the front line near Kyiv as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, Ukraine, March 30, 2022, photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Photo by Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Time for a Peacekeeping Operation in Northern Ukraine?

Now that the Russian military in Ukraine has retreated to positions in Belarus and Russia—presumably to refit and rearm before moving east—a de facto cease-fire is in place in Kyiv and central Ukraine.

According to RAND's Daniel Gerstein and Douglas Ligor, this could present an opportunity for the U.N. to call for a formal cease-fire in reclaimed territory and recommend that willing states move into northern Ukraine with a peacekeeping force.

There are challenges to taking this course of action, and some may argue that establishing a U.N.- or NATO-led peacekeeping mission would be escalatory. Still, now may be a good time to consider it, Gerstein and Ligor say: “The current situation—growing evidence of war crimes, continued apparent orchestrated attacks and criminality against Ukraine’s population, and the demonstrated violations of the law of armed conflict—does not seem sustainable.”

Ukrainian national flags fly over graves of fallen soldiers at a cemetery in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 24, 2022, photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

Ukrainian national flags fly over graves of fallen soldiers at a cemetery in Kharkiv, Ukraine, March 24, 2022

Photo by Thomas Peter/Reuters

The Geostrategic Consequences of Russia's War

Russia's aggression in Ukraine may prove to be even riskier and costlier than once thought, say RAND's William Courtney and Peter Wilson. They recently broke down some of the long-term geostrategic consequences that are coming into focus. For instance, Russian atrocities appear to have shattered the Kremlin's attempts to sow divisions in the United States and Europe. Further, Ukraine's bravery could hearten proponents of democracy elsewhere and discourage dictators.

David Luckey, senior international and defense researcher, and Jayme Fuglesten, director of Congressional Relations at RAND, on Capitol Hill, photo by Grace Evans/RAND Corporation

David Luckey and Jayme Fuglesten on Capitol Hill

Photo by Grace Evans/RAND Corporation

A New Response to Synthetic Opioids

Around 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. Nearly two-thirds of those deaths involved synthetic opioids. With guidance from RAND, the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking recently called for a whole-of-nation effort to help address this problem. RAND's David Luckey, a senior international defense researcher, and Jayme Fuglesten, director of Congressional Relations, discuss the commission's recommendations in a new Q&A.

Laboratory scientist Mihai Popescu points out areas of magnetic activity in a brain on a display at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, photo by U.S. Army

Laboratory scientist Mihai Popescu points out areas of magnetic activity in a brain on a display at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland

Photo by U.S. Army

How to Improve Long-Term Outcomes for Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury

The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that almost half a million service members sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the past two decades. In a new report, RAND researchers examine the profound effect that TBIs have on veterans throughout their lives; consider the unanswered questions about the effectiveness of treatments and interventions; and offer recommendations for improving care and support for veterans and caregivers.

Wedding rings wrapped around a dollar bill, photo by SabdiZ/Getty Images

A new UCLA-RAND study is the first to analyze the effects of states' minimum wage increases on the rates of marriage and divorce among low-wage earners

Photo by SabdiZ/Getty Images

Raising the Minimum Wage Lowers the Divorce Rate Among Poor Americans

When states increased their minimum hourly wage by $1, divorce rates among low-income Americans declined by 7 to 15 percent over the next two years. That's according to a new study by researchers at UCLA and RAND. The findings suggest that raising wages may be more effective at helping disadvantaged families than federal programs focused on communication and coping skills. In other words, when the lives of poorer families become easier, it appears that family relationships become easier, too.

A still frame from a short film created by artist-in-residence V+J. The video summarizes RAND’s 2021 paper on geoengineering as a tool to address global warming.

RAND artists-in-residence Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre, known as V+J, use live action, animation, and 3D techniques to create unique and entertaining short films.

The Risks of Geoengineering

Geoengineering—the intentional manipulation of the climate—could help curb global warming, but it may also have world-altering consequences. In a new animated video, RAND artists-in-residence Juan Delcan and Valentina Izaguirre take a lighthearted look at this serious issue. The plot: A feverish Earth visits the doctor and learns about a new “treatment,” geoengineering. Of course, there are serious side effects that she must consider.

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