This week, we discuss why Russia’s recent gambits aren't likely to pay off; the problem with giving in to Putin's nuclear blackmail; support for Xi Jinping; whether machine-learning can tell if you're lying; changing the culture of policymaking in long-term care; and how K-Pop might deter Kim Jong-un.
Over the last few weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has mobilized 300,000 new troops, illegally annexed four Ukrainian regions, increasingly targeted civilians, and appointed a new commander to lead the war effort.
None of these moves are likely to improve Russia's prospects on the battlefield. That's according to RAND's Dara Massicot, writing in the New York Times. Instead, she says, four combined factors continue to turn the tide against Moscow: the demands of a high-intensity war on an unprepared army; early and severe losses to Russian ground, airborne, and special forces; Ukrainians' resilience and will to fight; and Western support for Ukraine.
Massicot expects Russia's difficulties to only worsen: “Putin's behavior, intended to show resolve, reveals his awareness that the war is going poorly and his options are shrinking.”
The months ahead are likely to be volatile, especially if—or when—Russia's gambits fail, she says.
As Putin's rhetoric becomes more and more apocalyptic, there is growing concern that he will follow through on his nuclear threats. According to RAND experts, the United States and its allies should, of course, be prepared for Putin to use nuclear weapons. But fear should not drive the West's response. “The only thing more terrifying than Russian nuclear use may be letting such fears drive and derail Western and Ukrainian strategy,” they say.
As the Chinese Communist Party's National Congress wraps up this week, President Xi Jinping is expected to accept a third term as General Secretary of the party, China's top political position. But according to RAND's Howard Wang, support for Xi among the party elite has peaked. And the same may be true of his ability to shape policy. If Xi is weaker within China, then that's not necessarily good for the rest of the world. “Political strongmen are more prone to provocative behavior when they feel insecure at home,” Wang says.
A new RAND study shows that machine-learning models can detect signs of deception during national security background check interviews. How, exactly? The tools were able to identify lies via linguistic signals, such as word choice, word frequency, and speaking cadence. This was true even in text-based chats without the presence of a human interviewer. Notably, machine-learning models cannot replace current interview techniques, but they may be used as a complement.
Earlier in the pandemic, infection-control policies were often developed and mandated in long-term care facilities without input from residents and their family members, administrators, or staff. This failure led to declines in residents' physical and mental health. A new RAND report reimagines long-term care in a way that is inclusive, transparent, and centered on the needs of those most affected by policy decisions.
This week, the members of K-Pop supergroup BTS announced plans to begin their mandatory service in South Korea's military. RAND's Bruce Bennett recently wrote about another way that BTS could help Seoul. Imagine if the United States and South Korea delivered—via drones or balloons—one million USB drives loaded with K-Pop music to the people of North Korea. Because North Korean leader Kim Jong-un views South Korean cultural influences as a danger to his regime, even the threat of such an action could make him think twice about taking provocative actions.
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