This week, we discuss the potential for a limited Russian attack on NATO; food insecurity among military families; what China's presence in the Arctic means to the United States; how inflation affects middle class households; why Japan and South Korea depend on one another for security; and how digital health products could benefit society.
U.S. and NATO leaders have long focused on preparing for a potential large-scale conflict with Russia. But the Ukraine war has created a set of circumstances that make a more limited Russian attack plausible.
A new RAND paper explores this possibility, considering what U.S. policymakers might do if faced with a limited Russian attack on U.S. or allied targets. The authors break down a range of hypothetical scenarios—from a one-off strike on an isolated military target to a barrage of missile attacks against multiple civilian and military sites—and consider both Western responses and Russian reactions.
More than one-quarter of active-duty military personnel have faced some level of food insecurity. That's according to a new RAND study. Survey data shows that military members experiencing food insecurity were more likely to be early- to mid-career enlisted personnel, single with children, married without children, or members of racial or ethnic minority populations. They also were disproportionately in the Army and, to a lesser extent, the Navy. To address these high rates of food insecurity, it's essential to learn more about the root causes of the problem.
For years, China has worked to gain access to rich mineral deposits and shipping lanes in the Arctic and seek a greater say in regional affairs. But a recent RAND report finds that, despite these efforts, Beijing has made limited progress. The authors acknowledge that the United States views China's Arctic ambitions as potentially destabilizing, but there may be opportunities for the two countries to work together on key issues affecting the region, including climate change.
Whether or not someone is “middle class” is typically determined by income. According to RAND's George Zuo, the problem with this approach is that it ignores how much of one's income is eaten up by necessities. In other words, many households may earn what's considered a middle-class income, but they can't maintain a middle-class lifestyle. And inflation only makes the problem worse.
Japan's new national security strategy outlined a “counterstrike capability” against potential North Korean and Chinese nuclear weapons. According to RAND's Bruce Bennett, this capability offers much-needed support for South Korea. In the event of a conflict, Japanese destruction of even one North Korean nuclear weapon could save at least tens of thousands of South Korean lives. “Japan's and South Korea's fates are inextricably linked when it comes to North Korea,” Bennett says.
Apple Watches, Fitbits, and other health trackers promise better health to those who wear them. But RAND's Douglas Yeung says that these digital health products could be more beneficial to society if they went beyond individualized data and incorporated social and community factors, too. This could lead to better mapping of diseases, improved approaches for suicide prevention, and more.
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