5 May 2024

India Eyes 50,000 Cr. Defense Exports By 2028-29; Modi’s Make-In-India Magic Turning It Around For Delhi

The Minister added that defense exports have grown 31 times in the past ten years compared to FY 2013-14. The growth reflected the global acceptability of Indian defense products and technologies.

The private sector and the DPSUs contributed about 60% and 40%, respectively. India’s interim defense budget for 2024-25 was Rs 6,21,541 crore (approx $75 billion). Rs 1.72 lakh crore (27.67%) was for capital acquisition, 75% of which has to be spent on made-in-India capital purchases.

The ongoing conflict in Europe and West Asia has exposed defense production capacities, surge production capabilities and limitations, and supply chain dynamics. India remains among the top arms importers. Self-sufficiency in arms production has become highly desirable and a must for India if it has to sit on the global high table.

PM Modi-led Indian government had realized early and pushed “Atmanirbharta.” Make-in-India derives the highest returns in defense production as the technologies are not easily shared. India has two nuclear-armed neighbors with both. India has somewhat hostile relations and has fought wars.

Geoeconomics Bi-Weekly: Attacks on merchant shipping expand deep into Indian Ocean

Chris Borges, Kirti Gupta, and Andrea Leonard Palazzi

Among China’s myriad of economic issues is a slump in consumer spending. Chinese consumers already tend to save more than the global average, which was heightened when the COVID-19 pandemic and a real estate crisis knocked Chinese consumer confidence to an all-time low. To reverse this trend, China has gotten creative. On Wednesday the people of China celebrated Labor Day, but instead of only getting the usual one day off, the government created a 5-day weekend to boost travel and spending (to offset this, it turned Sunday April 28 and Saturday May 11 into working days). We’ll know the results of this experiment over the coming weeks, but, in the meantime, economic news out of China was slow given the long holiday. In one notable development, China’s purchasing managers index showed an expansion in the manufacturing sector for a second straight month in April, albeit at a slower rate than in March.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady on Wednesday, as inflation stagnates above the central bank’s 2% target. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, the Fed’s preferred inflation gauge, registered an annual price increase of 2.7% in March, up from 2.5% in February, while core PCE, which strips out the more volatile food and energy prices, remained level at 2.8%. First quarter GDP, meanwhile, came in at 1.6%, a notable drop from the 3.4% growth in the last quarter of 2023 and well below analyst expectations of 2.5%. An underwhelming growth figure would typically boost hopes that the Fed will lower interest rates, but continued inflationary pressures complicated that outlook. Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated that rates may remain high for longer than expected given the stubborn inflation.

A Primer on Compute


Computational power, or compute, is a fundamental building block in the development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions at scale. Compute enables AI models to process vast amounts of data, perform complex calculations, and make intelligent decisions by learning from this data. Compute is required to train models to learn patterns and logic, enable real-time decision-making, and ensure a smooth user experience by reducing latency.

In October 2023, the Indian government initiated a discussion regarding a proposal to set up 25,000 GPUs in the country, with the vision to make compute accessible to Indian companies engaged in the development and use of AI. During his address at the inauguration of the Global Partnership for Artificial Intelligence Summit in December 2023, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a vision to “establish adequate capacity of AI compute power in Bharat.” Subsequently, in March 2024, the cabinet approved a Rs. 10,372-crore outlay for the IndiaAI Mission, under which the government aims to establish compute capacity of at least 10,000 GPUs through the public-private partnership model. These developments have sparked debates within academic and policy circles on India’s approach to compute, and the role of the government and the private sector in providing access to compute.

Don’t look away: The Taliban’s mistreatment of women has global ramifications

Samira Abrar

The Taliban’s well-documented oppression is more than just a problem for the women and girls of Afghanistan. The country’s misrule is a signal to the world that gender-based discrimination can be ignored—even condoned. This perpetuates impunity and poses a grave risk of normalizing extremists. It’s time for those who built the international human rights system to step up and defend it.

Despite initial promises of moderation and a pledge to the United Nations (UN) when the group seized power in 2021, the Taliban has swiftly restored oppressive policies reminiscent of its previous rule in the late 1990s.

In less than three years, the Taliban has issued more than fifty edicts and directives imposing strict measures to bar women from participation in public and political life. These measures include restricting women’s access to education, employment, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, access to public spaces, health care, and access to justice.

A UN experts report said the situation may amount to “gender apartheid,” with the Taliban “governing by systemic discrimination with the intention to subject women and girls to total domination.”

Unveiling Terrorist Influence: The Case of Pakistan’s 2024 General Elections

Osama Ahmad


Elections in fragile democracies are often the targets of terrorist exploitation. Notably, general elections that took place in Pakistan in February of this year were marred by militant attacks. Months before the polling day, various terrorist groups began espousing and producing anti-election propaganda. The groups used online spaces, such as Telegram and Rocket.Chat, and offline methods, like graffiti and flyering, to disseminate their propaganda to the public. Terrorists also committed violence against political figures and election offices around this time, with the attacks multiplying in the lead-up to election day, making electioneering nearly impossible in the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Due to the increasing number of attacks and threats of violence on election day, voter turnout declined almost 5%, from 52.1% in 2018 to 47.6% this year.

This Insight analyses the modus operandi of the terrorist groups involved in these activities such as the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) and more. Mainly, this piece examines their use of multimodal and multilingual propaganda, and acts of terror, such as suicide bombings and assassinations, to influence elections. It concludes with recommendations on how best to counter these democracy-disrupting threats.

Nepal’s Media Industry Is Facing a Severe Financial Crisis

Mahabir Paudyal

When Nepali journalists meet on the sidelines of press conferences or during coffee breaks, this is how they often open the conversation: euphemistically asking about how long they have not been paid their monthly salaries. This is the basic income that they need to keep up with work, to survive, to feed their families, and to educate their children.

Those getting paid every 60 to 90 days are the lucky ones. Those reporting 120 days put on a grim face, but those having to forgo a salary for 180 days or more look hopeless and say they might quit journalism altogether.

Exceptions aside, talk to journalists working in the private media about their salaries and most of them will share the same story: We have not been paid for so many months, we are totally broke.

To be an employee of a publication or broadcasting company that pays decent salaries on time sounds like a status symbol. Thankfully, some professional and accountable media owners and publishers still sustain the glory and prestige of journalism in the midst of this gloom.

Show Me the Money

Journalists in Nepal are facing a crisis that impacts their creativity and careers: They are not paid wages on time, or not paid at all for months on end.

Is the Bangladesh success story unraveling?

Ali Riaz

As recently as 2021, Bangladesh was portrayed as a triumph. As Bangladeshis celebrated fifty years of independence, the international media celebrated the country as an economic success that had raised millions of people out of poverty. In the past few years, however, it has become more evident that the country’s economic health is in trouble.

Recent economic data and projections by international institutions, including the World Bank, reveal that the country faces considerable headwinds. Several notable social indicators, too, raise concerns that the country’s success story may be unraveling. Not coincidently, these shifts are taking place under a government that is less and less accountable to its citizens.

The worsening economy: The big picture

Published on April 2, the World Bank’s Bangladesh Development Update forecasted that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth in fiscal year 2024 would be 5.6 percent. Within days of the World Bank’s forecast came a report from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) that GDP growth in the second quarter of the current fiscal year, between October and December 2023, was 3.78 percent. This is a dramatic decline compared to the previous quarter’s growth, which stood at 6.01 percent. The numbers were far higher in previous years’ second quarters; in fiscal year 2022 it was 9.3 percent and in fiscal year 2023 it was 7.08 percent. The overall GDP growth projection of the World Bank sharply contrasts with the government’s initial projection for fiscal year 2024, which the Bangladeshi government revised down in January from 7.5 percent to 6.5 percent.

China’s Fear Of ‘Asian NATO’ Close To Reality? US Gathers Key Players In Indo-Pacific To Check Hostile Beijing

Prakash Nanda

Although “China” was not uttered by Austin and his guests, Beijing’s growing regional assertiveness was clearly at the top of their agenda.

Accordingly, they agreed on the need for deepening ties and building up interoperability among their forces through a series of bilateral, trilateral, and quadrilateral engagements. Here, the U.S., Japan, and Australia would provide greater security assistance to the Philippines, which is facing a hostile China in a territorial row.

In fact, by inviting the defense minister of the Philippines to the meeting, Austin seems to have indicated well enough that the growing proximity between Manila and Washington in security matters is the natural follow-up to Beijing’s claims virtually of the entirety of the strategic waterway of the Philippines in the South China Sea.

It may be noted that the Philippines had summoned China’s ambassador to Manila on April 25 to protest China’s use of water cannons against government ships on April 23 in the South China Sea, accusing Beijing of “harassment, ramming, swarming, shadowing and blocking, dangerous maneuvers, use of water cannons, and other aggressive actions.”

The Geopolitics of Tesla’s China Breakthrough

Marina Yue Zhang

Elon Musk arrives at the tenth Breakthrough Prize Ceremony on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles.Credit: Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken departed from Beijing, attention quickly shifted to another high-profile arrival: Elon Musk. The Tesla CEO’s visit, marked by meetings with top Chinese officials, including Premier Li Qiang, was more than a mere executive tour; it symbolized a significant diplomatic engagement amid the evolving tech rivalry between the United States and China.

During Musk’s visit, the Chinese government announced that Tesla had obtained crucial automotive data security certification – the only foreign EV brand to do so. This lifts restrictions on Tesla vehicles entering or parking in “sensitive areas” across the country. This breakthrough not only marks a pivotal moment for Tesla but also highlights China’s commitment to maintaining market accessibility for foreign companies, at a time when Chinese EV firms’ access to other markets is increasingly in question.

Mexico Is China’s Backdoor to the US Marke

Geopolitical Futures

Due to the trade war between the United States and China, some Chinese companies are employing third parties to help their products enter the U.S. market. One of these is Mexico. Last year, U.S. imports from Mexico surpassed those from China for the first time in years. At the same time, the shipment of 20-foot containers from China to Mexico surged to 881,000 in the first three quarters of 2023, up from 689,000 in the corresponding period of 2022.

Chinese firms aim to circumvent U.S. trade barriers by establishing manufacturing or processing facilities in Mexico. With the plants established, the firms ship components and partially assembled products from China to their Mexican facilities. The finished goods are then exported to the United States. For Chinese companies establishing operations in Mexico, securing a Mexican “certificate of origin” is crucial. However, the U.S. is looking at ways to prevent Chinese companies from gaining duty-free access to the U.S. market via the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.

What to look for as Xi Jinping visits France, Serbia, and Hungary

Atlantic Council experts

Then and now, it begins with Paris. In May 1975, Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping traveled to France in the first official visit by a Chinese Communist leader to a Western country. He would go on to open China to the world. Forty-nine years later almost to the day, a very different Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, will travel to Paris, Belgrade, and Budapest, just as Beijing’s relationship with the West seems to be narrowing. Xi’s May 5-10 trip comes one year after the European Union (EU) began “de-risking” its economy from China and follows cases of suspected Chinese espionage in Europe. Below, our experts share what to look for at each of the stops during Xi’s European grand tour.


France is Xi’s first stop, as he sets out to re-engage the old continent. French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to join for a trilateral meeting with Xi on the first day will be key to projecting a unified approach. Just last week, Macron warned of the European project disintegrating should it not bolster its political and security dimensions. Serbia and Hungary maintain a cooperation format with China that circumvents the EU. This presentation of European unity vis-à-vis China is customary for Macron, following his visit to Beijing in April 2023 with von der Leyen, and his invitation to then German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during a Xi visit to Paris in March 2019.

Assessing Israel’s Strike on Iran

Alexander Palmer, Daniel Byman, Seth G. Jones, and Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

The dangerous back-and-forth between Israel and Iran appeared to end—at least for now—on April 19 when Israel destroyed part of an S-300 long-range air defense system in Isfahan, Iran. Based on the authors’ analysis of the attack, Israel walked a tightrope between escalating the conflict further and inaction, while also signaling to Tehran that it could conduct precision strikes against strategic locations—such as Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility and its broader air defense system.

An Israeli attack on a diplomatic facility in Damascus that killed seven Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officers on April 1 triggered the crisis. Iranian leaders probably felt the need to show their domestic population and elites that the country could not be attacked with impunity. Iran responded with a barrage of more than 300 missiles and drones on April 13, the first direct attack ever launched against Israel from Iranian soil.

Given the scale and unprecedented nature of Iran’s attack, the Israeli response seems small. But the April 19 attack is best understood as a calibrated attempt to deter Iran while avoiding escalation. Israel’s response carried a clear threat against Iran’s most sensitive political and military targets, particularly its nuclear infrastructure, while avoiding key triggers for further escalation. The design of the strike suggests that Israel wants to avoid war with Iran, just as Iran is signaling that it does not seek war with Israel.

Armenia Concedes Defeat to Azerbaijan

Mark Temnycky

After three decades of fighting, it appears the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has finally come to an end. On April 28, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev spoke with one another on a phone call discussing a forthcoming treaty and a conclusion to the war. During the session, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that Armenia would hand over four villages to Azerbaijan in an attempt to stabilize relations between the two countries.

The Armenian leader said that it was a priority to ensure that peace became a reality. By making this decision, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that he believed that it would help with the feasibility of peace.

The Armenian official has previously stated that he was seeking solutions to try to resolve the conflict peacefully. Prime Minister Pashinyan also fears that there could be future conflicts between the two countries. Thus, by pursuing peace, and by trying to collaborate with his Azerbaijani counterparts, the Armenian leader is hoping that this will limit the probability of future attacks as well as a new conflict.

The Biden Administration’s Middle East Policy at a Time of War: An Assessment of US Policy Six Months Into the Israel-Hamas War

Brian Katulis

Executive Summary

The Biden administration set forth five main objectives in reaction to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack against Israel and ensuing war in the Gaza Strip:
  1. Support Israel’s self-defense and objective of eliminating the threat posed by Hamas;
  2. Secure the safe return of hostages;
  3. Prevent a wider regional war;
  4. Protect civilians and respond to a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza; and
  5. Create a post-war plan for reconstruction leading to a two-state solution and wider regional normalization efforts in coordination with regional and international partners.
Six months into the Israel-Hamas war, the Biden administration has not achieved enough progress toward these goals, although it has avoided some of the worst-case scenarios. Success is hampered in part by tensions stemming from the fact that some of the tactics and policy approaches are at odds with each other.

Ukraine Military Situation: Russian Forces Make Significant Battlefield Advances And Tactical Gains – Analysis

Can Kasapoğlu

1. Battlefield Assessment

Last week, Moscow’s widening artillery advantage and Kyiv’s stumbling mobilization efforts allowed Russian forces to make significant battlefield advances and tactical gains on multiple fronts. In the meantime, Russian air and missile strikes continued to pound major Ukrainian population centers.

Russian and Ukrainian forces engaged in heavy clashes and positional fighting in Ukraine’s south and east. Open-source intelligence and satellite imagery show that the most intense combat in the east occurred around Bakhmut, Spirne, Avdiivka, and Chasiv Yar. The latter remains under the most intense pressure. In the south, Russia continued to focus on dismantling Ukrainian positions in the Robotyne bulge, Kyiv’s most significant gain from last year’s counteroffensive, and Krynky, the site of Ukraine’s bridgehead across the Dnipro River.

Available indicators also suggest that Russia has been increasing its troop concentrations in Donetsk Oblast at an alarming rate. Russian engineering units, meanwhile, have been working to connect existing trenches with new fortifications extending to Belgorod Oblast in the east and Zaporizhzhia Oblast in the south.

The Kremlin supplemented its ground offensives with drone and missile strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. This week the Ukrainian Air Force reported interception rates of approximately 60 percent against these missile salvos. Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy, meanwhile, revealed that Russian strikes significantly damaged facilities in southern and western Ukraine, including in Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, and Lviv.

Strategic Use of Migration: The View from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela

Giacomo Mattei & Luis Campos

Emigration as Economic Alleviation

Some countries actively encourage emigration as a strategy for development. Migrant laborers send back a portion of their earnings – remittances – which can have multiplier effects on the home economy.

For many countries, remittances make up a larger portion of gross domestic product (GDP) than foreign direct investment (FDI). The World Bank’s data shows that Nicaragua’s 2022 GDP was over 20% remittances and just over 8% FDI. In 2023, remittances to Nicaragua were nearly 50% higher than the year before, standing at $4.24 billion, an estimated 28% of GDP.

Venezuela, on the other hand, has consistently received fewer remittances and very little FDI between 2000-2022 (both remaining largely below 2% of GDP according to World Bank data), though the Inter-American Dialogue estimates that remittances reached 5% of GDP in 2023. Interesting hypotheses can be considered to explain this behavior, such as the migration of entire family households, and/or a lack of confidence in the country’s future as a destination for personal and family investment.

While there is not sufficient data about the amount of remittances and their weight in Cuba’s economy, indirect evidence suggests that the chronic economic crisis was aggravated further after an estimated decrease of 3.31% in remittances since 2022, despite an amendment to the limit approved by the US government. Thus, in Cuba, migration appears to be an asset for political stability rather than a path for economic alleviation, given other structural factors that exert a more significant effect on the national economy.

Russia’s Murky Future

Stephen Kotkin

When Russia botched its invasion of Ukraine and the West quickly came together in support of Kyiv, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power appeared shakier than ever. Last summer, an attempted coup even seemed to threaten his rule. But today, Putin looks confident. With battlefield progress in Ukraine and political turmoil ahead of the U.S. election in November, there’s reason to think things are turning in his favor.

The historian Stephen Kotkin joins us to discuss what this means for Russia’s future—and how the United States can be ready for whatever that future holds. Kotkin is the Kleinheinz Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He is the author of the forthcoming book Stalin: Totalitarian Superpower, 1941–1990s, the last in his three-volume biography of the Soviet leader.

All eyes, still, on Hamas


Hamas's Gaza Strip leader Yahya Sinwar in a tunnel in southern Gaza's Khan Younis, October 10, 2023 (IDF Spokesman)

We would appear to be in the midst of a particularly fateful period for Israel, the hostages in Gaza, and the war to destroy Hamas.

As I write, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is holding a series of meetings here with the Israeli leadership, having publicly declared that Israel has made an “extraordinarily generous” offer to Hamas for a hostage-truce deal, and urged Hamas to quickly accept it.

The terms of that offer have not been publicly confirmed, but are widely reported to provide, in a first phase, for the release of 33 living hostages who meet a so-called “humanitarian” designation — women, children, men over 50, the wounded and sick. This would be carried out in return for the release by Israel of something in the region of 1,000 Palestinian security prisoners, many of them serving life terms for murder, in the course of a 40-day halt in the fighting, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes, and a partial IDF troop withdrawal. During that first phase, negotiations would also begin on a process for achieving sustainable calm in Gaza.

A second phase, if reached, would see the release of the rest of the living hostages, in return for many more Palestinian security prisoners, the finalization of an agreement for sustained calm in Gaza, and the full withdrawal of the IDF. In a third and final phase, there would be an exchange of bodies, and the start of implementation of a multi-year rehabilitation plan for Gaza, with Hamas barred from rebuilding its military infrastructure.

Too big to win


It is painfully apparent to anyone of sound mind and judgment that there’s something gravely wrong with America’s current military capacity and our ability to project power in the world.

The WWII-era fighting force composed of 14 million GIs with a muscular industrial base backing them up is almost unimaginable today. In the last three years, five different US embassies have been hastily evacuated: Sudan, Afghanistan, Belarus, Ukraine, and Niger.

Americans are held hostage in Gaza; commercial shipping traffic is blockaded and our ground and naval forces are shot at daily with impunity. How did America go from winning the Cold War and becoming the sole global superpower in the 90s to the state of disarray that we find ourselves in now?

One reason is financial. All warfare has an underlying economic basis and a nation’s military power reflects its economic structure. Today in America the “exorbitant privilege” of the US dollar and the unlimited printing press of fiat currency it enables means current US defense spending is essentially covered by debt: indeed at least 30% of the current national debt consists of military overspend from the so-called Global War on Terror.

A new cold war? World war three? How do we navigate this age of confusion?

Timothy Garton Ash

In these times of planetary polycrisis, we try to get our bearings by looking to the past. Are we perhaps in “The New Cold War”, as Robin Niblett, the former director of the foreign affairs think-tank Chatham House, proposes in a new book? Is this bringing us towards the brink of a third world war, as the historian Niall Ferguson has argued? Or, as I have found myself suggesting on occasion, is the world beginning to resemble the late 19th-century Europe of competing empires and great powers writ large?

Another way of trying to put our travails into historically comprehensible shape is to label them as an “age of …”, with the words that follow suggesting either a parallel with or a sharp contrast to an earlier age. So the CNN foreign affairs guru Fareed Zakaria suggests in his latest book that we are in a new “Age of Revolutions”, meaning that we can learn something from the French, industrial, and American revolutions. Or is it rather “The Age of the Strongman”, as proposed by the Financial Times foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman? No, it’s “The Age of Unpeace”, says Mark Leonard, the director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, since “connectivity causes conflict”.

But come now, surely it’s “The Age of AI”, the title of a book co-authored by the late doyen of foreign affairs gurus, Henry Kissinger. Or “the age of danger”, as international essayist Bruno Maçães argues in a recent issue of the New Statesman? If you type the words “the age of …” into the search box on the website of the journal Foreign Affairs, you get another bunch of contenders, including the age(s) of amorality, energy insecurity, impunity, America first, great-power distraction, and climate disaster.

Israel's Deterrence Strategy Falters

In recent conflicts, Israel's attempts to restore deterrence against adversaries like Hamas have fallen short. Despite military actions, the cycle of violence persists, eroding Israel's ability to dissuade future aggression.

Key Factors:

Escalating Violence: Despite targeted strikes and military operations, Hamas continues to launch rockets into Israeli territory, challenging Israel's security and prompting retaliatory measures. The inability to halt these attacks undermines Israel's deterrence efforts.

Civilian Casualties: International outcry over civilian casualties during Israeli military operations weakens global support for Israel's defensive actions. The loss of civilian lives fuels resentment and strengthens the resolve of militant groups, further complicating Israel's deterrence strategy.

Strategic Impasse: The lack of a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prolongs tensions and hampers efforts to establish long-term deterrence. Without addressing underlying grievances and territorial disputes, Israel struggles to achieve lasting peace and stability.


Diminished Security: Persistent rocket attacks and cross-border violence undermine Israel's sense of security, fostering anxiety among its citizens and reducing confidence in the government's ability to protect them.

Regional Instability: The failure to restore deterrence exacerbates regional tensions and risks broader conflict escalation. As neighboring states and non-state actors react to the ongoing violence, the risk of destabilization increases.

Diplomatic Challenges: International criticism of Israel's military tactics strains diplomatic relations and hampers efforts to garner support for its security objectives. Without robust backing from key allies, Israel faces greater isolation on the global stage.

Conclusion: Israel's failure to restore deterrence highlights the complexities of modern asymmetric warfare and the limitations of military force in achieving lasting security. To break the cycle of violence and enhance stability, Israel must pursue diplomatic initiatives aimed at addressing underlying grievances and fostering a sustainable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Spy and Tell The Promise and Peril of Disclosing Intelligence for Strategic Advantage

David V. Gioe and Michael J. Morell

On October 25, 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Adlai Stevenson, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, confronted his Soviet counterpart, Valerian Zorin, in the chamber of the Security Council. Live on television, Stevenson grilled Zorin about whether the Soviet Union had deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Cuba. “Yes or no?” Stevenson demanded. As Zorin waffled, Stevenson went in for the kill: “I am prepared to wait for an answer until hell freezes over if that’s your decision. And I’m also prepared to present the evidence in this room.” Stevenson then revealed poster-sized photographs taken by a high-altitude U-2 spy plane, images that showed Soviet missile bases in Cuba and directly contradicted Moscow’s denials. Stevenson’s revelations marked a turning point in the crisis, providing undeniable evidentiary support to the Kennedy administration’s allegations, shifting global opinion, and pressuring the Soviets to de-escalate by isolating them diplomatically. It was the first time the U.S. government had declassified top-secret intelligence to publicly refute another country’s claims.

Nearly 60 years later, Moscow looked poised to flex its muscle again, this time by amassing nearly 175,000 troops on the Russian border with Ukraine. Echoing the Kennedy administration’s approach, the Biden administration responded by publicly disclosing intelligence, both to warn allies (and Ukraine) of the coming invasion and to preemptively rebut Russian President Vladimir Putin’s planned pretexts for it. In early December 2021, administration officials started sharing the intelligence community’s growing concern with the media, holding a briefing that was accompanied by satellite imagery showing Russian forces staging on Ukraine’s borders. In mid-January 2022, John Kirby, then the Pentagon press secretary, told reporters that Russia was preparing a “false-flag operation” in eastern Ukraine, hoping to fabricate a massacre to justify an invasion. Later that month, U.S. officials revealed that the Russian military had moved blood supplies to the border of Ukraine, suggesting that war was imminent. And on February 18, President Joe Biden said he was “convinced” that Russia’s invasion would begin in the “coming days”—as it did.

Air Force declares ‘critical’ Nunn-McCurdy cost breach for MH-139A Grey Wolf helo


The Air Force’s move to halve the MH-139A Grey Wolf fleet in the service’s fiscal 2025 budget proposal has triggered a “critical” cost breach for the program, lawmakers and Air Force officials revealed today.

“Just last week, we were notified of a Nunn-McCurdy breach for the MH-139 Grey Wolf,” House Appropriations defense subcommittee chairman Ken Calvert, R-Calif., said in a hearing on Capitol Hill today. “This follows the [Sentinel ICBM’s] Nunn-McCurdy breach. We need to understand the implications of both of these breach reviews for fiscal year 25 and beyond,” he added.

The Air Force notified lawmakers of the breach on April 25, according to an Air Force spokesperson. The breach “is tied to the reduction in aircraft quantities in the program,” the spokesperson said, who noted that the regular Nunn-McCurdy process will be followed with the caveat that “statute does allow the Department of Defense to handle quantity-related breaches slightly differently.”

Marine Corps Arms Surface Ships With New Multi-Domain Attack Missiles


Island hopping attack, multi-domain operations and transportable, expeditionary weapons are all key Concepts of Operation informing the Marine Corps deterrence and conflict preparation strategy for the Pacific theater.

The Corps has established special “littoral” units for the specific purpose of refining an ability to conduct warfare operations in coastal and island areas throughout the Pacific such as the island chains in the South China Sea. As part of this, the Corps’ Marine Corps Force Design 2030 document calls for specific “stand-in” ready forces capable to conducting offensive operations in close proximity to enemy areas within the larger perimeter reach of longer-range weapons.

This transition, which includes a Corps emphasis on multi-domain operations and expeditionary weapons systems, has inspired the service to work with industry partners to anticipate future threats and requirements. For instance, forward operating “stand-in” forces will, according to Force Design, operate with a much greater concentration of drones, unmanned systems and manned-unmanned teaming to ensure mobile ISR and targeting and sustain connectivity with stand-off forces and other command and control nodes. 


Lauriane Héau and Kolja Brockmann


The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) seeks to prevent the proliferation of missiles and other uncrewed delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Since its creation in 1987, the MTCR has become the main multilateral instrument for setting standards on missile-related export controls, which states then implement at the national level (see box 1.1). The MTCR defines guidelines for controls on transfers of missiles, space launch vehicles (SLVs) and other uncrewed delivery systems, on their physical parts and components, but also on associated technical data and knowledge (collectively referred to as ‘technology’) and software. Technology and software can be transferred by tangible, that is, physical means. A USB stick taken abroad, for example, can contain controlled technical data such as a technical drawing. However, technology and software can also be transferred through intangible means. These intangible transfers of technology (ITT) and software use ‘non-physical’ means, such as electronic transfers or oral communication.

For the actors involved in the implementation of MTCR controls, applying controls to ITT and software effectively is a widely recognized challenge. The companies and research institutes that must comply with the controls often struggle to track all of the actual or potential intangible transfers that their activities involve. Enforcement is also more challenging for national authorities and requires alternative control measures, as intangible items do not go through customs checkpoints and cannot be inspected before they reach their destination. In addition, the challenges of ITT and software controls are exacerbated by significant differences in how states apply aspects of the controls and in the legal mechanisms their national systems provide to enforce them.