This week, we discuss how the United States can help avoid a drawn-out war in Ukraine; what the evidence says about the effects of gun laws; how teachers feel about limits on their instruction; why America's policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan may be doing more harm than good; policies that could help address migrant surges; and homelessness in Los Angeles.
Avoiding a Long War in Ukraine
Discussions about Russia's war in Ukraine are increasingly focused on how the conflict might end. In a new paper, RAND experts identify ways the war could evolve and potential effects on U.S. interests.
They argue that the United States has a strong interest in avoiding a drawn-out war in Ukraine. And while Washington cannot alone determine the duration of the conflict, it can take steps to make a negotiated resolution more likely. These include clarifying plans for future aid to Ukraine, making commitments to Ukraine's security, issuing assurances regarding Ukraine's neutrality, and setting conditions for sanctions relief for Russia.
Taking such steps may be key to pushing Russia and Ukraine toward peace talks. The alternative is “a long war that poses major challenges for the United States, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.”
Responding to the Gun Violence Crisis
More than 120 people are killed by guns every day in the United States. As the tragedies mount, the science is increasingly clear: Some restrictive gun laws appear to reduce firearm violence, and other more permissive gun laws worsen it. For instance, a new RAND analysis shows that stand-your-ground laws and “shall-issue” concealed-carry laws increase gun violence. “Where the science is strong, lawmakers would be wise to consider it when making decisions about how to protect public safety,” say RAND experts.
What Do Teachers Think of Limits on Their Instruction?
At least 17 states have passed policies restricting how teachers can address topics related to race, gender, and other “divisive concepts” in the classroom. A new RAND survey finds that, overall, teachers believe these limitations negatively affect their working conditions. Teachers are also concerned about how the restrictions may influence their ability to engage students in learning and support students' critical thinking and empathy-building skills.
The Downside of 'Strategic Ambiguity'
America's policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan may no longer be the best approach. That's according to RAND's Raymond Kuo. To start, this policy cannot adapt to the disruptive growth of China's military power. Further, strategic ambiguity is largely irrelevant to whether China decides to attack Taiwan. (Beijing already assumes the United States would intervene.) Washington could consider pivoting to a policy of strategic clarity instead, Kuo says.
Immigrant Location Policies Can Be Done Right
Apprehensions of migrants at the U.S. southwestern border totaled nearly 2.4 million for the last fiscal year. Some American cities have been overwhelmed, prompting governors in several border states to send migrants to other parts of the country—often with little coordination. This is not the ideal solution, say RAND experts. However, relocation policies can address migrant surges if conducted “in a more organized, humane, and thoughtful way,” the researchers say, “instead of as political theater.”
Monitoring Homelessness in Los Angeles
RAND conducted a yearlong count of people experiencing homelessness in three Los Angeles neighborhoods: Hollywood, Venice, and Skid Row. Despite encampment cleanups and other clearance activities in these “hot spots,” the number of unhoused people rose by an average of 18 percent. The findings may help inform the development of effective homelessness policy.
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