Will the two Koreas eventually be reunited, and if so, how? A new study by the rand Corporation examines various possible scenarios. If North Korea adopts a more open, Chinese-style economic model, a federalist arrangement with South Korea might result; if continuing economic adversity brings down Kim Jong Il's regime, "appropriate financial inducements," among other things, might persuade North Koreans to cast their lot with the South; if another peninsular war breaks out, the United States and China might negotiate a reunification, which would probably involve the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Of course, as the authors note, some of these scenarios could have darker outcomes: an internal collapse of Kim's regime could lead to the emergence of regional warlords; a peninsular conflict could leave foreign troops occupying the North and facing an insurgency like Iraq's. But they say a united Korea may be likelier than we think. In the mid-1990s, the study points out, many observers confidently predicted reunification and were disappointed; now that fewer are looking to the possibility, "we might be surprised once again—but this time in the reverse direction."
—"North Korean Paradoxes: Circumstances, Costs, and Consequences of Korean Unification," Charles Wolf Jr. and Kamil Akramov, RAND Corporation
A surge in rates of HIV infection may soon join the myriad issues facing the Islamic world. According to a study from the National Bureau of Asian Research, a Seattle-based think tank, the virus threatens to move through Muslim-majority nations along "the same pathways it followed in Sub-Saharan Africa." The report is largely speculative, because few Muslim countries collect systematic data on HIV and AIDS—which, the authors argue, is part of the problem. With the exceptions of Bangladesh and (surprisingly) Iran, Muslim nations have not mounted significant public-health campaigns to combat AIDS, in part because authorities assume that few Muslims engage in behaviors such as premarital sex, homosexuality, prostitution, and drug use. The authors observe that these assumptions did not hold true for Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa, and are likely to have tragic consequences in the rest of the Islamic world.