NATO Summit, Russia's Failures in Ukraine, Vietnam Bans 'Barbie': RAND Weekly Recap

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Jul 14, 2023

RAND Weekly Recap

This week, we discuss the NATO summit and decisions to support Ukrainian reconstruction; why Russia has stumbled so significantly in Ukraine; how restricted access to reproductive health care could affect U.S. national security; why the “Barbie” movie was banned in Vietnam; job-related stress among America’s school superintendents; and the path toward peace in Yemen.

NATO leaders at a summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, July 11, 2023, photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Reuters

Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto/Reuters

NATO Summit Highlights Key to Ukrainian Reconstruction

Security decisions made at this week's NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, are essential to Ukraine's fight against Russia. But, as RAND experts wrote in the Los Angeles Times, such decisions will be just as important—if not more so—after the war ends. In other words, they will “set the tone” for Ukraine's reconstruction.

NATO members have a range of options to support Ukraine's rebuilding efforts. To start, they could extend current arrangements of providing military support to Ukraine, which the G7 affirmed through a joint declaration on Wednesday. Stronger still, they could threaten to introduce Western forces into Ukraine. Or, they could bring Ukraine into NATO—a step that a number of allies pledged to take this week, without providing specifics on timing.

Whatever happens next, further “clarifying security arrangements and moving toward firm postwar security assurances” will be vital to Ukraine's reconstruction success.

Ukrainian serviceman stands on top of a Russian tank captured after fighting with Russian troops in the village of Lukyanivka outside Kyiv, March 27, 2022, photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

Ukrainian servicemen stand on top of a Russian tank captured after fighting with Russian troops in the village of Lukyanivka outside Kyiv, March 27, 2022

Photo by Marko Djurica/Reuters

Russian Failures in Ukraine

Many expected Russia's invasion of Ukraine to last only a matter of weeks. Instead, Moscow faltered against a strong Ukrainian resistance and committed a series of missteps. Why has Russia stumbled so significantly? A new RAND report finds that poor planning and lack of capacity in logistics and sustainment are partly responsible, as they left Russian soldiers without the means to fight and likely affected morale. This may be a cautionary tale for any force planning a prolonged fight, the authors write.

U.S. Air Force women service members, photo by Chief Master Sgt. Jaimee Freeman/U.S. Air Force

Photo by Chief Master Sgt. Jaimee Freeman/U.S. Air Force

Limiting Access to Reproductive Health Care May Undermine National Security

One year after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, about half of all women serving in the active-duty U.S. military have limited access to reproductive health care. According to RAND experts, these restrictions could lead more women to turn away from military service altogether. This is especially worrying in an already-difficult recruiting environment, they say, and it could have an effect on national security.

Actor Margot Robbie during a photocall for the upcoming Warner Bros. film "Barbie" in Los Angeles, California, June 25, 2023, photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

Actor Margot Robbie during a photocall for the upcoming Warner Bros. film "Barbie" in Los Angeles, California, June 25, 2023

Photo by Mike Blake/Reuters

Barbie' Ban Highlights Politics of South China Sea

The highly anticipated “Barbie” movie will not be hitting theaters in Vietnam later this month. The country banned the film because it includes a map featuring the controversial nine-dash line, which indicates China's claims to disputed territory in the South China Sea. A 2022 RAND paper provides a primer on this complex issue, reviewing the history of territorial claims—and the risks of ongoing militarization—in this important region.

A yellow school bus is visible through rainfall on a gray, cloudy day, photo by lunamarina/Adobe Stock

Photo by lunamarina/Adobe Stock

The Top Reason Superintendents Are Stressed? Politics.

This spring, RAND surveyed 150 superintendents in school districts across the country to learn more about their job-related stress. The vast majority of respondents—79 percent—said that their work was often or always stressful. Superintendents most commonly cited “the intrusion of political issues or opinions into schooling” as a source of that stress. Notably, most said their jobs are worth the stress and disappointments.

Members of the Houthi movement stand by as a plane carrying the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg arrives at the Sanaa International Airport, in Sanaa, Yemen June 8, 2022, photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Members of the Houthi movement stand by as a plane carrying the U.N. Special Envoy for Yemen arrives at the Sanaa International Airport, June 8, 2022

Photo by Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

Diplomacy Is Working 'Slowly but Surely' in Yemen

More than a year ago, the United Nations brokered a nationwide truce in Yemen. Even though the deal has formally expired, the halt in fighting between the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition has mostly held. The importance of this truce should not be understated, says RAND's Alexandra Stark. However, ending the war in Yemen for good will require continued engagement from U.S. and other diplomats, as well as a peace process that includes all parts of Yemeni society.

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