This week, we discuss why European host countries shouldn’t treat Ukrainian refugees like short-term visitors; how to reverse the erosion of U.S. and allied power and influence; Washington's concerns over Taiwan’s defense spending; addressing the mental health crisis in U.S. jails; tackling existential threats from artificial intelligence; and how the conflict in Sudan is creating a rift among U.S. security partners.
Since February 2022, more than 6 million Ukrainians have been recorded as refugees. They mostly fled to Poland, Germany, and other European Union countries, where they will likely remain for a few years or more. Many are highly skilled workers, and one-third of Ukrainian refugees in the EU are children.
Drawing lessons from recent RAND research on the refugee crisis in Syria, our experts say European host countries should “work to truly support and integrate” Ukrainian refugees—most of all by educating and employing them.
Helping young refugees could start with developing school-enrollment initiatives, pathways to high-school graduation, and opportunities for further education. At the same time, host countries can improve labor market access for adult refugees through investment in language training, job matching, and other programs.
Helping Ukrainian refugees in such ways will help them enrich their host communities. They may also eventually return home as entrepreneurs who can invest, transfer knowledge, and create jobs. Thus, “Ukraine’s refugee diaspora could turn into a motor of the country's postwar reconstruction.”
Since the Cold War, U.S. defense strategy has been predicated on military forces that were superior in all domains to those of any adversary. But the nature of warfare has evolved, and that superiority is gone. In a new report, RAND's David Ochmanek and colleagues recommend a new approach to address the shortcomings of U.S. and allied forces. It focuses on prioritizing key aspects of force modernization, including technology and weapons upgrades, as well as building solidarity among allies and partners.
Washington and Taipei agree on the goal of protecting Taiwan against a potential invasion by China. But even as U.S. security ties with Taiwan grow stronger, Washington is bristling over how much Taiwan's leaders are spending for defense—and what they're spending it on. RAND's Michael Lostumbo says these “long-simmering differences” can be addressed if the United States works with Taiwan to review its spending and discuss how its capabilities can complement American investments and support.
In the United States, people with mental health concerns are disproportionately jailed at a staggering rate. The situation in Los Angeles is especially dire: 41 percent of the jail population has a diagnosed mental illness, is experiencing mental health symptoms, or is taking psychiatric medication. According to RAND's Stephanie Brooks Holliday, eliminating cash bail and implementing pretrial diversion programs could help. “The goal shouldn't just be to release people from jail,” she says, “but to make sure they don't end up there in the first place.”
Artificial intelligence poses numerous and potentially world-altering risks. RAND experts say that tackling these dangers could start with a few simple steps. First, identify appropriate risk-management approaches. Second, determine how AI can better meet the intents of its designers. And third, respond to racism, sexism, and other biases in AI systems. After all, if an AI system cannot be designed to be safe against racism or sexism, then how can it possibly be designed to align with humanity's long-term interests?
The national security community often focuses on strategic competition between the United States and China and Russia. But according to RAND experts, the conflict in Sudan that erupted earlier this year is a good reminder that regional powers are also competing for influence and resources. As the unrest in Sudan continues, it will likely exacerbate divisions among American allies and security partners in the region, creating barriers to achieving U.S. strategic objectives.
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