This week, we discuss what could happen if Russia invaded Ukraine; how countries are planning for climate migration; Americans' feelings on vaccine globalism; the state of democracy in Asia; Taiwan's new defense strategy; and marijuana legalization.
With a major buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, concerns are growing that Russia could launch an attack. According to RAND experts, if Russia does invade Ukraine, then its aim will likely be to create “shock and awe” that would overwhelm Ukraine's defenses or will to fight.
But the United States and its NATO allies could react in a way that goes well beyond their response to Russia's 2014 assault on Ukraine. And with substantial help from the West, Ukraine is prepared to mount a formidable resistance.
In sum, the researchers say that the United States, its NATO allies, and Ukraine could impose immediate and painful costs on any Russian invaders. And it might not end there. For many years after, Russia could face reinforced NATO military power.
As the effects of climate change increase in scope and severity, more and more people will be forced to relocate. A new RAND paper examines how different countries are responding to the growing pressures of climate migration. The findings can provide policymakers with options as they consider how to meet the needs of climate migrants and the communities that host them.
The emergence of the Omicron variant has highlighted the ongoing global threat of COVID-19. As the United States considers new plans to share vaccines with other nations, RAND survey data offer insights into American public sentiment. The survey—which took place in September, when the Delta variant was still peaking—shows high support for sharing vaccines. This may reflect recognition of the need to proactively address the pandemic beyond U.S. borders to truly be on the path to recovery.
Asia is the only region in the world where democracy scores have improved over the last two decades. But a new RAND report finds that democracy in Asia remains fragile. This is true for both new and long-established democratic governments. The authors identify several factors associated with this trend, as well as policies that can support democratization.
Taiwan's strategy for defending against a Chinese attack is not the approach the United States wants. According to RAND's Raymond Kuo, this is because Taipei does not have a clear security commitment from Washington—even though American intervention is essential to any defense. Until such a commitment is secured, Taiwan will always focus on whether the United States “will show up to a fight, rather than how they can best fight together.”
Germany recently took a step toward regulating the sale of recreational marijuana. But reforming cannabis policy is not simply a choice between prohibition and legalization, says RAND Europe's Stijn Hoorens. It's crucial to consider the entire supply chain. Early experiences in the United States suggest that it's “extremely difficult to make trade-offs in favor of public health once the genie is out of the bottle,” he says.
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