This week, we discuss what a border wall could realistically accomplish; how schools can reduce suspensions; walking back the U.S. withdrawal from Syria; ways that churches help improve health in their communities; the chance of peace in the Taiwan Strait; and countering future terrorism.
Since ancient times, states have been building walls to keep populations in and to keep invaders out. RAND's Raphael Cohen writes that such walls do work, at least for a time. But they are merely a “delaying obstacle”—a tactic rather than a strategy. “As long as life in the United States offers potential migrants more opportunities and fewer perceived dangers than their home countries, illegal immigration will likely persist,” he says.
Restorative practices are methods for resolving conflict that focus on building and repairing relationships. How does this approach work in the classroom setting? According to a new RAND report, restorative practices reduced student suspensions in Pittsburgh Public Schools. The decreases were more prevalent among elementary students, African-American students, students from low-income families, and female students.
Administration officials this week began to walk back President Trump's announced pullout from Syria. RAND's James Dobbins says these developments are a step in the right direction. The campaign against ISIS is not entirely over. And the United States still has obligations to its partners in Syria. Dobbins also says that Washington's attitude toward the Assad regime warrants a review.
Kathryn Derose is a senior policy researcher at RAND and an Episcopal deacon. She works with Latino and African-American churches to understand how social ills like poverty and prejudice impact the health of communities. Derose's research has shown the power of the pulpit to fight health disparities, counter stigma, and encourage healthy living.
The chance of a peace deal between China and Taiwan is exceptionally low, says RAND's Derek Grossman. Both sides have dug into their respective positions. And recent statements by Chinese President Xi Jinping could make cross-strait relations even more tense. Xi is re-emphasizing “one country, two systems,” a vision of China that Taiwan consistently rejects.
Countering Future Terrorism
RAND recently paid tribute to Brian Michael Jenkins, senior adviser to the president of RAND and a leading authority on terrorism. Speakers at the event discussed the evolution of terrorism and its effect on the direction of U.S. national security. In his keynote remarks, Jenkins explained that terrorism has not turned out to be the existential threat that Americans feared in the shadow of 9/11, but continuing terror still threatens U.S. democracy.
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