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Monocle 24: The Foreign Desk Profile

Monocle 24: The Foreign Desk

English, Foreign/International, 1 season, 231 episodes, 3 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes
About
​Presented by ​Andrew Mueller, Monocle 24’s flagship global-affairs show features​ expert guests ​and in-depth analysis of the big issues of the week. Winner in the ‘best current affairs’ category of the 2018 British Podcast awards.
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Nato comes to Washington

‘The Foreign Desk’ broadcasts from Washington for Nato’s 75th anniversary summit, with Joe Biden playing host under an intense spotlight. Andrew Mueller speaks to ministers from Estonia, Latvia and Moldova, as well as Ian Bremmer and former US defence official Ian Brzezinski. Plus: the story of Nato’s longest-serving spokesperson, Oana Lungescu.
7/13/202443 minutes, 4 seconds
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Explainer 425: Is this the end of Ecowas?

Andrew Mueller explains why the West African junta have turned their back on Ecowas and what it means for the bloc.
7/10/20246 minutes, 24 seconds
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How will Keir Starmer relate to the world?

The UK sees its first change in government since Brexit. We explore how Keir Starmer will tackle relations with the EU, US and Middle East, as well as asylum policy. Andrew Mueller speaks with Claire Ainsley, Anand Menon, Mina Al-Oraibi and Sarah Singer.
7/6/202437 minutes, 15 seconds
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Explainer 424: Replacing Joe Biden

Andrew Mueller explains how the Democratic Party would replace Joe Biden should he choose to step down.
7/3/20247 minutes, 1 second
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What does Iran want?

Iran’s influence is growing across the Middle East, with its proxies now dangerously close to an all-out war with Israel. Could presidential elections or an eventual ayatollah succession lead to a change in course? Andrew Mueller speaks to Iranian-American journalist Farnaz Fassihi of ‘The New York Times’, Iraqi analyst Renad Mansour and defence expert Jean-Loup Samaan.
6/29/202433 minutes, 51 seconds
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Explainer 423: Will Ukraine and Moldova ever join the EU?

The European Union formally launched accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova this week. Andrew Mueller explains why the tortuous process that has left many countries in limbo might, nevertheless, be a good thing for these two nations.
6/26/20246 minutes, 40 seconds
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What will it take to achieve peace in Ukraine?

The Ukraine peace summit did not lead to peace but it did surprise on the upside with more than 90 countries. Andrew Mueller was also in attendance in Switzerland. He reviews the summit’s tangible results and speaks to Australia’s Bill Shorten, as well as Iuliia Osmolovska and Lili Bivings from Ukraine and Kristian Berg Harpviken of the Peace Research Institute Oslo.
6/22/202438 minutes, 21 seconds
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Explainer 422: Friends with benefits

As Vladimir Putin visits Kim Jong-un, Andrew Mueller explains why a warm relationship is so advantageous for both Russia and North Korea. 
6/19/20246 minutes, 58 seconds
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Can the far-right govern in Europe?

Voting for the far-right is no longer merely a protest for many. After the EU elections, we look at who can govern effectively, and who can be defeated. Andrew Mueller speaks with Sophie Pedder in France, Marilisa Palumbo in Italy and Ben Stanley in Poland.
6/15/202432 minutes, 53 seconds
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Explainer 421: Israel and the UN

Andrew Mueller explains whether Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will adhere to the UN Security Council resolution and if he even has much of a choice.
6/12/20247 minutes, 28 seconds
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India and its neighbours

Narendra Modi has secured a third term as India’s prime minister despite losing more votes than expected in the country’s election. We explore Modi’s foreign-policy doctrine and his testy relationship with Pakistan, China and Myanmar. Andrew Mueller speaks to Kapil Komireddi, Beenish Javed, Isabel Hilton and Ronan Lee.
6/8/202437 minutes, 16 seconds
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Explainer 420: Claudia Sheinbaum

Mexico has elected its first female president, Claudia Sheinbaum. But, as Andrew Mueller explains, she has really been elected to continue the legacy of the incumbent president, Obrador. 
6/5/20247 minutes, 51 seconds
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Georgia’s uncertain European future

Georgia has been gripped by protests as its parliament has passed a law that will force many of its NGOs and media to register as foreign agents. We look at what this means for Georgia’s future in the EU and how such laws fit into the autocratic playbook. Andrew Mueller speaks to journalist Rayhan Demytrie, Georgian opposition leader Tinatin Bokuchava, Estonian foreign minister Markus Tsahkna and Christopher Sabatini.
6/1/202439 minutes, 6 seconds
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Explainer 419: Is Armenia conceding to Azerbaijan?

Andrew Mueller explains why Armenia’s prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, has given villages to Azerbaijan, resulting in mass protests.
5/29/20248 minutes, 31 seconds
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Where did things go wrong for South Africa’s ANC?

The African National Congress looks likely to win South Africa’s upcoming election, despite facing the prospect of securing less than 50 per cent of the vote for the first time in its history. Is this the inevitable result of being in power for too long, or something else? Andrew Mueller speaks to Nwabisa Makunga of the country’s national daily Sowetan, author William Gumede and former opposition leader Tony Leon.
5/25/202431 minutes, 24 seconds
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Explainer 418: Big trouble in New Caledonia

France and New Caledonia have seen better days. Andrew Mueller explains France’s role in the South Pacific territory and why Paris is blaming a fresh round of unrest there on Azerbaijan.
5/22/20246 minutes, 54 seconds
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The Black Sea

Russia celebrated its annual Black Sea Fleet Day with a notably smaller fleet in Sevastopol than just a few years ago. How has Ukraine managed to win in the sea? What has the Nato military alliance learned from that success? And how does Turkey exercise control as the gateway country to the Black Sea? We speak to Hanna Shelest in Odessa, James Bergeron of Nato Maritime Command and Turkish-American political scientist Soner Cagaptay.
5/18/202434 minutes, 38 seconds
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Explainer 417: Catalonia’s fading separatist spirit

Andrew Mueller explains how the most recent Catalonian elections show that voters’ nationalist appetites may be waning. 
5/15/20247 minutes, 56 seconds
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Will the Baltics be next?

Olaf Scholz visited the First German Brigade, which is stationed in Lithuania as part of Berlin’s new commitment to defend the Baltic states. But is Nato ready for Russia’s next move? We speak with Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Marion Messmer of Chatham House and General Richard Shirreff, former deputy supreme allied commander at Nato.
5/11/202433 minutes, 32 seconds
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Explainer 416: Panama’s proxy president

Panama has voted José Raúl Mulino as its new president. Andrew Mueller explains how, in reality, the endorsement belongs to his disqualified running mate, Ricardo Martinelli – a convicted criminal hiding under diplomatic asylum.
5/8/20246 minutes, 40 seconds
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Calling it quits

Why do leaders resign early? We speak with Pat Leahy of ‘The Irish Times’, Jacinda Ardern’s former chief of staff Raj Nahna, former Armenian president Armen Sarkissian, and historian Alex von Tunzelmann for a look at quitters through history.
5/4/202439 minutes, 59 seconds
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Explainer 415: Does peacekeeping work?

As UN peacekeepers are being forced to leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Andrew Mueller speculates on the future of peacekeeping operations. 
5/1/20248 minutes, 3 seconds
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Europe’s revival

How has the war in Ukraine affected EU integration? And has Europe’s political and strategic centre shifted eastward? We speak to former Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven about the EU’s parliamentary elections, and to Romanian and Moldovan officials about the bloc’s enduring appeal. Plus: Anand Menon of King’s College London on whether the UK regrets leaving.
4/27/202432 minutes, 43 seconds
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Explainer 414: Who are the Netzah Yehuda?

Andrew Mueller explains why the US government is placing sanctions on an ultra-Orthodox group of soldiers within the IDF. 
4/24/20248 minutes, 45 seconds
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Delphi Economic Forum 2024

A special edition from Delphi about a newly confident Greece and its Balkan neighbours. Andrew Mueller speaks to president of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar, the German ambassador to Greece, Andreas Kindl, Ukrainian MP Yulia Klymenko and Maria Gavouneli, director general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy.
4/20/202444 minutes, 43 seconds
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Explainer 413: Iran and Israel

Andrew Mueller explains why Iran delivered a missile strike against Israel and the potential ramifications. 
4/17/20246 minutes, 52 seconds
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Mice that roar

Global events tend to be shaped by the great powers: those countries with vast territories, enormous populations and proportionate economic and military heft. Nevertheless, small states not only survive but prosper, particularly in terms of GDP per capita and happiness reports. What are the advantages of being a small state? How can they make their voices heard? And what is it like to lead one? Andrew Mueller speaks to Armen Sarkissian, Sim Ann and Anett Numa. 
4/13/202438 minutes, 10 seconds
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Explainer 412: Going for gold

Zimbabwe is introducing its new official currency, the ZiG, which is tied to the country’s gold reserves. Given that its five previous currencies have collapsed, Andrew Mueller muses on this one’s potential to last.
4/10/20246 minutes, 50 seconds
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Emmanuel Macron: Europe’s ‘Raging Bull’?

Black-and-white photos of Emmanuel Macron pounding a boxing bag sparked bemusement in France and abroad. The French leader’s office did not comment on the images but many have linked the ‘Raging Bull’-style photoshoot to Macron’s drive to toughen up the region’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Why is Emmanuel Macron flexing his political muscle and how has his foreign-policy doctrine evolved? Andrew Mueller speaks to Sophie Pedder, Bruno Tertrais and General Sir Richard Shirreff.
4/6/202432 minutes, 25 seconds
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Explainer 411: The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Andrew Mueller explains who the IRGC are and why they are being targeted by Israel.
4/3/20248 minutes, 17 seconds
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Islamic State: they never went away

Why did Islamic State target Russia and is the terror group still a big threat in the Middle East and Africa? Andrew Mueller speaks to Mark Galeotti, General David Petraeus, Sanam Vakil and Stig Jarle Hansen. 
3/30/202438 minutes, 11 seconds
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Explainer 410: Water fight in the South China Sea

Andrew Mueller explains why the China Coast Guard attacked a Filipino civilian boat with a water cannon. 
3/27/20248 minutes, 9 seconds
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How has war changed Volodymyr Zelensky?

Comedian-turned-president Volodymyr Zelensky has found himself leading Ukraine in the nation’s darkest hour. How is Zelensky faring, what’s next for Ukraine’s counteroffensive and what does history tell us about wartime leadership? Andrew Mueller speaks to Simon Shuster, Yaroslav Trofimov and Alex von Tunzelmann. 
3/23/202435 minutes, 22 seconds
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Explainer 409: Niger and the USA

Andrew Mueller explains the significance of Niger cutting ties with the US military – and why it might not be happening at all. 
3/20/20248 minutes, 44 seconds
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Crisis in Haiti

The Caribbean nation continues to grapple with gang violence, political upheaval and a humanitarian crisis. How did we get here and is there a way out of Haiti’s nightmare? Andrew Mueller speaks to Jacqueline Charles, Harold Isaac, Christopher Sabatini and Georges Fauriol. 
3/16/202433 minutes, 27 seconds
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Explainer 408: Another failed referendum

Andrew Mueller explains why the people of Ireland said “no” to rewording their constitution – and why their response took the government by surprise.
3/13/20246 minutes, 37 seconds
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The future of dissent in Russia

Next weekend, Russia will hold an election that will effectively grant Vladimir Putin another six-year term as president. Combined with the recent death of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the future looks difficult for Russians who would like the choice of a different leader. Was Alexei Navalny really the last dissident standing? And what will happen if Putin remains unseated? Andrew Mueller speaks to the prime minister of Lithuania, Bill Browder and Alexis Lerner. 
3/9/202436 minutes, 33 seconds
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Explainer 407: Haiti calls for aid

This week, Haiti’s plight under gang rule has intensified as its prime minister, Ariel Henry, is refused entry into the country. Andrew Mueller explains who is – and who isn’t – answering the Caribbean state’s plea for assistance. 
3/6/20246 minutes, 40 seconds
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Wake up Europe

As former US president Donald Trump undermines Nato, is it high time for Europe to get its act together and spend more on defence? What would another Trump presidency mean for the future of the alliance? Andrew Mueller speaks to Ukrainian politician Hanna Hopko, former Estonian president Toomas Hendriks Ilves, Estonia’s minister of defence, Hanno Pevkur, and Nato policy planning chief Benedetta Berti.
3/2/202455 minutes, 28 seconds
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Explainer 406: Whither the Palestinian Authority

After the Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, announces his resignation, Andrew Mueller looks at the future of the Palestinian Authority and whether it has any hope of governing Gaza and the West Bank. 
2/28/20247 minutes, 26 seconds
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Munich Security Conference special edition

In this special episode recorded at the Munich Security Conference, Andrew Mueller sits down with the prime minister of Belgium, Alexander de Croo, the prime minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former CIA director General David Petraeus, Israel’s ambassador to Germany, Ron Prosor, the prime minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, and the prime minister of Bulgaria, Nikolai Denkov. 
2/24/202455 minutes, 28 seconds
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Explainer 405: Taliban 2.0

After the Taliban refused to attend a UN conference in Doha about Afghanistan this week, Andrew Mueller takes a moment to evaluate how much the terrorist group has really changed. 
2/21/20247 minutes, 31 seconds
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The other half

The role of first lady or, increasingly, first gentleman, can be one of the most potent ambassadorial positions in any nation’s diplomatic ranks. What is it really like to be the spouse of a world leader? Andrew Mueller speaks to Clarke Gayford, broadcaster and husband of Jacinda Ardern; Charity Wallace, former chief of staff to Laura Bush; and Elizabeth Natalle, co-founder of the First Ladies Association for Research and Education. 
2/17/202432 minutes, 17 seconds
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Explainer 404: Putsch away democracy

Andrew Mueller explains how Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, is clinging to power beyond his term limits.
2/14/20247 minutes, 4 seconds
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Indonesia’s election: what’s at stake?

Voters in Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, are gearing up to elect their next president in what is expected to be a hotly contested vote. Who is running and what are the key issues? Andrew Mueller speaks to James Chambers, Dewi Fortuna Anwar and Jacqui Baker.
2/10/202426 minutes, 26 seconds
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Explainer 403: What’s behind the Super Bowl conspiracy?

Andrew Mueller examines why bizarre conspiracy theories about Taylor Swift and the Super Bowl are spreading.
2/7/20247 minutes
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Can the Israel-Hamas war be contained?

The war in Gaza is reverberating across the Middle East. How are nearby countries responding to the conflict? For a closer look at Iran, Jordan and Iraq, Andrew Mueller speaks to Vali Nasr, Merissa Khurma and Renad Mansour.
2/3/202429 minutes, 7 seconds
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Extra: What now for Tuvalu?

Andrew Mueller explains why we should care about Tuvalu’s election results.
1/31/20247 minutes, 21 seconds
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Sudan’s forgotten war

The world has paid little attention to Sudan since war broke out there 10 months ago. In a distracted world full of hostility, why are conflicts in Africa so easily neglected? Andrew Mueller speaks to Isma’il Kushkush, William Patey and Nima Elbagir.
1/27/202431 minutes, 35 seconds
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Don’t rock the boat

Andrew Mueller explains how Ethiopia has angered Somalia and Egypt in its efforts to secure a coastal base for its boatless navy. 
1/24/20247 minutes, 58 seconds
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It’s foreign policy, stupid

Foreign policy rarely wins US elections but the wars in Ukraine and Gaza have become intertwined with American politics. Will foreign policy loom large over November’s presidential election? And what would another Trump-Biden showdown mean for the world? Andrew Mueller speaks to Johanna Maska, Tom Nichols and Julie Norman.
1/20/202432 minutes, 33 seconds
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Explainer 400: Why is Italy’s deputy prime minister on trial?

Andrew Mueller examines the kidnapping and abuse of office charges facing Italy’s deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini.
1/17/20246 minutes, 7 seconds
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Political pastimes

There is a tendency to view those in politics as diplomatic robots, solely programmed to keep the world running. But they are humans with personalities, hobbies and previous accomplishments in unrelated fields. In this special episode of ‘The Foreign Desk’, we’ll meet a finance minister who plays chess, a foreign minister who played basketball and a diplomat who wrote a bestseller and ask, ‘Does success in other fields open more doors in politics?’
1/13/202435 minutes, 29 seconds
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Explainer 399: Bangladesh’s one-party democracy

Andrew Mueller explains Bangladesh’s descent into a one-party autocracy. 
1/10/20248 minutes, 7 seconds
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The best of 2023

A selection of the best interviews over the past year, from the most listened-to episodes to the team’s personal favourites.
1/6/202443 minutes, 31 seconds
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Explainer 398: Ringing in the new year

Andrew Mueller explains the first complicated news story of 2024.
1/3/20247 minutes, 3 seconds
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Looking back at 2023 – and ahead to 2024

We look back at the big events of 2023 and peer ahead at next year. Andrew Mueller speaks to Yossi Mekelberg, Latika Bourke and Yassmin Abdel-Magied.
12/30/202338 minutes, 49 seconds
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Power dressing

From Nelson Mandela’s colourful shirts to Madeleine Albright’s glitzy brooches, fashion has been used as a powerful tool to communicate messages on the world stage. What role does fashion play in diplomacy? Andrew Mueller speaks to Natalie Theodosi, Samantha Conti and Desré Buirski. 
12/23/202330 minutes, 17 seconds
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Explainer 397: The Red Sea

As attacks by Iranian-backed Houthis in the Red Sea continue to grow, Andrew Mueller examines what they mean for the global shipping industry, as well as order in the region. 
12/20/20237 minutes, 35 seconds
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Power chords: music, diplomacy and geopolitics

Throughout history, music has served as an instrument of soft power, transcending divides and even catalysing the downfall of regimes. How does music shape geopolitics and international diplomacy? Andrew Mueller speaks to Reiland Rabaka, András Simonyi, Lance Price and Rhiannon Giddens.
12/16/202338 minutes, 27 seconds
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Explainer 396: Delaying democracy in Guatemala

Guatemala’s president-elect, Bernardo Arévalo, is due to be sworn into office on 14 January. However, certain powerful figures within the country seem to be doing all they can to prevent this from happening. Andrew Mueller explains.
12/13/20237 minutes, 11 seconds
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Could Venezuela really invade Guyana?

Tensions rose between Venezuela and Guyana this week after Nicolas Maduro boasted an “overwhelming” people’s mandate for Caracas to exploit oil deposits in the disputed Essequibo region. What happens now? Andrew Mueller speaks to Donnette Streete, Kiana Wilburg, Christopher Sabatini and Benjamin Gedan. 
12/9/202330 minutes, 15 seconds
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Explainer 395: The UK’s Rwanda obsession

Rwanda has gone from being a place that not many British citizens could point to on a map to becoming one of the year’s biggest buzzwords, as a result of the incumbent Conservative government. Andrew Mueller explains the obsession. 
12/6/20237 minutes, 49 seconds
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The best of enemies

The long-running battle for the Parthenon Marbles erupted again this week between Greece and the UK. In this special episode, we explore some of the bitterest and most bizarre diplomatic disputes between otherwise amicable nations. Is the British Museum losing its marbles? What does it take to resolve a conflict with a friendly state? Andrew Mueller speaks to George Parker, John Everard, Alex von Tunzelmann and Jeppe Kofod. 
12/2/202331 minutes, 9 seconds
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Democracy in a war zone

Though Ukraine’s next presidential election is scheduled to be held on 31 March 2024, Russia’s invasion of the country has created many issues that would prevent it from being truly free and fair. Andrew Mueller explains why some people think that Ukraine should hold it anyway.
11/29/20238 minutes, 4 seconds
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What next for Argentina after Javier Milei’s victory?

Javier Milei shocked Argentina – and the world – after winning the country’s presidential election. So, who is Milei and what does the future hold for Argentina under an eccentric and unpredictable new leader? Andrew Mueller speaks to Ana Lankes, Benjamin Gedan and Tom Nichols. 
11/25/202330 minutes, 55 seconds
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George Weah concedes defeat

Liberia’s president, George Weah, has been praised for his sportsmanship after peacefully conceding the country’s election this week. Andrew Mueller explains why this is remarkable and why the football legend might have lost his position in the first place.
11/22/20238 minutes, 16 seconds
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What could peace look like for Israel and Palestine?

It is six weeks since Hamas’s attack on southern Israel, which indiscriminately and cruelly killed about 1,200 people and prompted a brutal and unrelenting retaliatory ground insurgency led by the Israeli Defence Force. The local authority so far claims figures of 11,000 dead. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, vows to bring an end to Hamas but is that even possible? And what comes next? Will there be a Gaza left to govern? And can there ever be peace? Andrew Mueller speaks to Nimrod Goren, Khaled Elgindy and Sanam Vakil.
11/18/202339 minutes, 7 seconds
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Explainer 392: The return of David Cameron

Like a previously believed-to-be-dead character in a soap opera, former UK prime minister David Cameron’s episode-ending reveal on Downing Street caused an audible gasp, followed by questions of how, what, where, when and why? Andrew Mueller explains.
11/15/20236 minutes, 45 seconds
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Who speaks for the Arctic?

The Arctic is not simply a forbidding and fragile environment. It is a home to millions, many of whom hail from indigenous communities who have harmoniously worked with the land and sea for generations. But who actually speaks on behalf of this region? And is anyone listening? In our final episode recorded at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík, we meet representatives of some of the Arctic’s indigenous peoples and a few office-holders who grapple with the unique challenges of governing in – or near – the Arctic. 
11/11/202347 minutes, 29 seconds
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Explainer 391: Australia and China’s hot and cold relationship

As Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, pays a visit to his Chinese counterpart, Andrew Mueller muses on the fickle relationship between the two countries over the past 50 years. 
11/8/20239 minutes, 34 seconds
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Is Arctic exceptionalism on thin ice?

Frozen and remote, the Arctic has long been a region of relative peace and stability. Russia’s war in Ukraine, however, has significantly altered Arctic security. What are Vladimir Putin’s polar ambitions and is the militarisation of the Arctic inevitable? Andrew Mueller speaks to admiral Rob Bauer, chair of the Nato Military Committee; Petteri Vuorimäki, Finland’s Arctic ambassador; James Gray, UK member of parliament; Anu Laamanen, Finland’s ambassador to Iceland; and Volker Rachold, head of the German Arctic Office at the Arctic Circle Assembly.
11/4/202335 minutes, 21 seconds
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Explainer 390: What is Israel’s endgame?

As the retaliatory invasion of Gaza continues, Andrew Mueller ponders on what Israel wants to achieve and what outcome is most likely. 
11/1/20238 minutes, 29 seconds
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Arctic Circle Assembly special edition

In this special episode, recorded at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavík, Andrew Mueller sits down with the president of Iceland, Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson, US senator for Alaska, Lisa Murkowski, and Mads Qvist Frederiksen, executive director at the Arctic Economic Council. 
10/28/202337 minutes
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Explainer 389: Hezbollah

Andrew Mueller explains the history of Hezbollah and why it is claiming a stake in the conflict with Israel. 
10/25/20237 minutes, 41 seconds
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What is feminist foreign policy?

Feminist foreign policy is gaining traction around the world. How does it work in practice – and what is the role of women in promoting peace? Andrew Mueller speaks to Sweden’s former foreign minister, Margot Wallström, Slovenia’s minister for foreign affairs, Tanja Fajon, politics professor Jennifer Piscopo and peace-mediation expert Johanna Poutanen.
10/21/202337 minutes, 55 seconds
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Explainer 388: Who is Ecuador’s new president-elect?

Daniel Noboa, a 35-year-old son of a banana tycoon, is set to become Ecuador’s next president. Andrew Mueller takes a closer look at the centre-right political outsider’s credentials.
10/18/20235 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Foreign Desk Live: Israel-Hamas war

As fighting rages between Israel and Hamas militants, we ask what the war might mean for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and stability in the region. How did we get here and what happens next? Andrew Mueller speaks to Allison Kaplan Sommer, Yossi Mekelberg, Ghaith al-Omari and Ami Ayalon.
10/14/202337 minutes, 50 seconds
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Explainer 387: Australia’s voice referendum: What is at stake?

Australians are preparing to vote in a historic referendum that would recognise Indigenous citizens in the country’s constitution by establishing an official voice to parliament. What is at stake?
10/11/20237 minutes, 4 seconds
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How will AI revolutionise warfare?

The race to dominate Artificial Intelligence has become a major geopolitical concern and is certain to redefine warfare and deterrence. How will AI reshape militaries and the future of great-power competition? Andrew Mueller speaks to Scott Young, General John Allen, and Ulrike Franke.
10/7/202335 minutes, 10 seconds
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Explainer 386: Slovakia’s new direction?

Last weekend, Slovakia narrowly voted in Robert Fico, leader of the Smer party, as prime minister. He is in a legal battle with his president and one of his few allies appears to be Hungary’s pro-Putin leader, Viktor Orbán. Andrew Mueller explains how this new leadership is at odds with the country that Slovakia has been in recent years.
10/4/20236 minutes, 39 seconds
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France’s foreign policy

France has withdrawn its ambassador to Niger and announced the removal of its troops from the country following a military coup whose anti-French rhetoric has stirred up animosity in the region. Is President Macron the reason or the scapegoat for France’s diplomatic and strategic reverses in Africa? And what can he do on the world stage with the rest of his term? Andrew Mueller is joined by Aanu Adeoye, Sophie Pedder, Gesine Weber and Michel Duclos. 
9/30/202335 minutes, 17 seconds
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Explainer 385: Saudi Arabia and Israel

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both signalled a strong desire to normalise relations between their countries. Andrew Mueller explains why this would be consequential and the hurdles both parties face. 
9/27/20238 minutes, 35 seconds
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In the Room: Falklands War

In the final episode of our special ‘In the Room’ series, we look back at the 10-week Falklands War between Argentina and the UK in 1982. Andrew Mueller speaks to Michael Heseltine, former deputy prime minister of the UK, David Omand, former director of the British government communications headquarters, and Admiral Lord Alan West, former commander of the ‘HMS Ardent’.
9/23/202342 minutes, 28 seconds
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Explainer 384: Eritrean cultural festivals

Expat Eritreans around the world have been protesting against Eritrean cultural festivals held in their cities. Andrew Mueller explains why the events’ links to the country’s incumbent president, Isaias Afwerki, have incensed those who have left their homeland.
9/20/20236 minutes, 55 seconds
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In the Room: Secret talks with Nelson Mandela

In part two of our ‘In the Room’ series, we speak to the key players involved in the secret talks that led to Nelson Mandela’s release from prison. Andrew Mueller speaks to Niël Barnard, the former head of South Africa’s National Intelligence Service, who conducted clandestine talks with Mandela, Willie Esterhuyse, an Afrikaner academic who liaised between the ANC and the government, and Greg Myre, a journalist who witnessed Mandela’s release.
9/16/202336 minutes
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Explainer 383: Sikhs vs Modi vs Trudeau

Andrew Mueller explains how protests by the Sikh diaspora of Canada led to a frosty reception for the country’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, at the G20 summit in India. 
9/13/20236 minutes, 39 seconds
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In the Room: September 11 attacks

In part one of our special ‘In the Room’ series, we look back on the chilling moments that followed the September 11 terror attacks, meeting top aides who were rushed onto Air Force One with US president George W Bush, a Secret Service agent tasked with protecting first lady Laura Bush and a staffer who was evacuated from the White House. 
9/9/202358 minutes, 41 seconds
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Explainer 382: Friends like these

Andrew Mueller explains the growing relationship between Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un, and the potential implications that it may have for Russia. 
9/6/20236 minutes, 51 seconds
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The future of Syria

A wave of protests across government-controlled areas of Syria gathered momentum this week, with demonstrators demanding regime change. Is a future without Bashar al-Assad still possible for Syria? Andrew Mueller speaks to Leila Molana-Allen, Firas Maksad, Lina Khatib, and William Patey.
9/2/202332 minutes, 46 seconds
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Explainer 381: Resurgence of the Islamic State

Andrew Mueller explains how a once-diminished Islamic State is re-emerging across Africa. 
8/30/20237 minutes, 10 seconds
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With Cod on Our Side

The global fishing industry has found itself at the heart of major debates and conflicts. In this special episode we explore the curious power of fish in politics. What makes these aquatic animals so politically sensitive? Are there really plenty more fish in the sea? Andrew Mueller speaks to Tomohiko Taniguchi, Sebastian Whale, Katharine Hayhoe and Árni Matthias Mathiesen. 
8/26/202336 minutes, 49 seconds
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Explainer 380: Guatemala’s new president

Guatemala has elected a new president, bringing hope to the country. But with five months to go until his inauguration, it remains to be seen how smooth the transfer of power will be. Andrew Mueller explains who Bernardo Arevalo is and what kind of president he might be.   
8/23/20237 minutes, 45 seconds
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Zimbabwe’s high-stakes election

Zimbabweans will head to the polls next week to elect their country’s leader amid economic turmoil and vote-rigging fears. What is at stake? Andrew Mueller speaks to Hopewell Chin’ono, Fadzayi Mahere, Robert Chapman and Georgina Godwin.
8/19/202340 minutes, 29 seconds
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Explainer 379: Who is Javier Milei?

Rock’n’roll singer, tantric sex coach and now, presidential candidate in Argentina. Andrew Mueller explains who Javier Milei is, his politics and if he has a chance of winning the election. 
8/16/20237 minutes, 26 seconds
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Europe swings east

The war in Ukraine has shifted Europe’s centre of gravity eastward. As Poland and Ukraine rapidly expand their militaries, the two countries have positioned themselves as vanguards of Western defence. Is a new balance of power being shaped? And will this spell trouble for traditional powerbrokers Germany and France? Andrew Mueller speaks to Radosław Sikorksi, Lili Bayer and Steven Erlanger.
8/12/202330 minutes, 17 seconds
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Explainer 378: Two wrongs make a popular president

El Salvador has been cracking down on gang criminals after years of widespread fear. Andrew Mueller explains how president Bukele’s barbaric methods have led to positive stats in both crime figures and leadership polls. 
8/9/20238 minutes
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Are we living in a golden age of conspiracy theories?

Last week the US Congress held a bizarre hearing on UFOs, which included explosive testimony about alien spacecraft defying laws of physics. What did we learn from America’s UFO hearing? Why do people latch onto conspiracy theories? And what does this mean for democracies? Andrew Mueller speaks to Marina Koren, Tom Nichols, Will Sommer and Richard Evans.
8/5/202338 minutes, 3 seconds
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Explainer 377: The fight for West Africa

Andrew Mueller looks at the coup in Niger as a symptom of the discontent rippling through West Africa.
8/2/20236 minutes, 33 seconds
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David H Petraeus

In this special episode, Andrew Mueller sits down with former CIA director David H Petraeus to discuss the Wagner mutiny and western support for the war in Ukraine. 
7/29/202328 minutes, 39 seconds
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Explainer 376: What’s next for Spain?

Andrew Mueller explains what happened in Spain’s snap election and what is likely to come next.
7/26/20237 minutes, 3 seconds
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What’s next for Nato?

In this episode recorded at the Nato summit in Vilnius, we examine the high-priority issues dominating the in-trays of foreign and defence ministers. Andrew Mueller speaks to the ministers of foreign affairs of Finland, Iceland and the Czech Republic, and to Estonia’s minister of defence. 
7/22/202332 minutes, 35 seconds
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Explainer 375: Who is Hun Sen?

Hun Sen has been Cambodia’s prime minister since 1984. Andrew Mueller explains how he has remained in power for so long and why he will be reelected this weekend.
7/19/20237 minutes, 55 seconds
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Nato’s Ukraine dilemma

In this special episode, the team travels to Vilnius for a historic Nato summit. What’s in store for the alliance and when will Ukraine be joining? Andrew Mueller speaks to the prime minister of Bulgaria, Nikolai Denkov; Benedetta Berti-Alberti; Ambassador Andrej Benedejcic; and Daria Kaleniuk.
7/15/202340 minutes
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Explainer 374: Cluster bombs

Nato members are conflicted after the US announced that it would supply Ukraine with surplus cluster bombs. Andrew Mueller discusses the controversial decision and why the besieged country wants the munitions.
7/12/20237 minutes, 20 seconds
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Imagining a Third World War

Militaries around the world are enlisting novelists to dream up the wars of the future. What can defence experts learn from science fiction? Andrew Mueller speaks to political scientist Peter Singer, general Sir Richard Shirreff, major general Mick Ryan and Nato’s Ruben Diaz-Plaja.
7/8/202335 minutes, 7 seconds
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Explainer 373: Howzat cricket?

An incident during an England-Australia cricket match this week has spilled into the geopolitical sphere as prime ministers, Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese, both issued pointed statements toward each other. Andrew Mueller explains why it’s such big news for all those who might find themselves stumped. 
7/5/20239 minutes, 11 seconds
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Lukashenko and Putin: brothers in arms?

Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko became an unexpected major player in the apparent resolution of the dispute between Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group and the Russian state. What does Belarus have to gain (and lose) from backing Vladimir Putin and his war in Ukraine? Andrew Mueller speaks to John Everard, Hanna Liubakova and Andrei Sannikov.
7/1/202328 minutes, 46 seconds
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Explainer 372: The Prigozhin Mutiny

Andrew Mueller considers the reasons why Wagner Group Chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, aborted his mutiny so quickly and what might happen next. 
6/28/20238 minutes, 30 seconds
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Forging the future of Nato

National leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are gearing up for the alliance’s high-stakes summit next month in Lithuania. How has the war in Ukraine transformed Nato? And what comes next? Andrew Mueller speaks to Ingrida Simonyte, prime minister of Lithuania; Benedetta Berti-Alberti, head of policy planning in the Office of the Secretary-General at Nato; Kersti Kaljulaid, former president of Estonia; and Swedish political scientist Anna Wieslander.
6/24/202334 minutes, 5 seconds
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Explainer 371: What was the point of Africa’s peace mission?

Andrew Mueller explains the recent trip of African leaders to Ukraine and Russia, and assesses whether it made any difference in terms of helping to end the war.
6/21/20237 minutes, 53 seconds
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The war in Ukraine: a reality check

Almost 16 months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the war shows no signs of ending. How long will the conflict last – and is the West actually afraid of a Ukrainian victory? Andrew Mueller sits down with General Philip Breedlove, Nato’s former supreme allied commander Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, Nato’s former deputy supreme allied commander Europe, and Russian opposition politician Vladimir Milov.
6/17/202334 minutes, 16 seconds
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Explainer 370: Donald Trump’s legal woes

Following Trump’s historic court appearance in Miami, Andrew Mueller explains the former US president’s growing laundry list of legal trouble and what it means for him politically.
6/14/20237 minutes, 33 seconds
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What happened to EU enlargement?

As the war in Ukraine rages on, calls for EU enlargement have returned to the top of the political agenda. To explore the future of European integration, the team travels to the Globsec 2023 Bratislava Forum to speak to European Parliament president Roberta Metsola, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s minister of foreign affairs, Elmedin Konaković, and journalist Suzanne Lynch.
6/10/202331 minutes, 16 seconds
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Explainer 369: The pilot in Papua

A pilot from New Zealand has been taken hostage in Indonesia. Andrew Mueller explains who his captors are and what they want.
6/7/20237 minutes, 36 seconds
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Mirror conflicts

With no end in sight to the bloody war in Ukraine, we ask what lessons can be drawn for parallel conflicts in Taiwan and Belarus. In a special episode recorded at the Globsec 2023 Bratislava Forum, Andrew Mueller speaks to Roy Chun Lee, Taiwan’s deputy foreign minister; Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Belarus’s opposition leader; and Hanna Hopko, a Ukrainian politician.
6/3/202333 minutes, 3 seconds
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Explainer 368: Clashes in Kosovo

At least 25 Nato soldiers and 52 Serb civilians have been hurt during violent clashes in northern Kosovo this week. Andrew Mueller explains what has led to this confrontation.
5/31/20238 minutes, 55 seconds
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The battle for Sudan

Fighting continues in Sudan despite successive ceasefire deals. Is there a way to stop two rival soldiers from destroying their country? Andrew Mueller speaks to Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Kholood Khair and Mat Nashed.
5/27/202328 minutes, 41 seconds
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Explainer 367: Bashar al-Assad’s return

Twelve years after Syria was expelled from the Arab League for atrocities committed by President Assad, he and his nation have been warmly welcomed back. Andrew Mueller explains what, if anything, has warranted this change.
5/24/20237 minutes, 32 seconds
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Global swing states: can the west win them over?

Russia’s war in Ukraine has galvanised western alliances but many other countries feel no imperative to come down on either side. This new class of nations are the global swing states of the 21st century, enjoying a significant amount of sway on the world stage. What does it take to win them over? To examine the cases of South Africa, Brazil and Saudi Arabia, Andrew Mueller speaks to Tony Leon, Cecilia Tornaghi and Bernard Haykel.
5/20/202329 minutes, 34 seconds
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Explainer 366: What’s next for Thailand?

Though the people of Thailand have voted out the military in favour of the Move Forward Party, the way ahead remains unclear. Andrew Mueller explains why.
5/17/20237 minutes, 15 seconds
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Baroness Catherine Ashton

Baroness Catherine Ashton, former high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and security policy, joins Andrew Mueller to discuss her remarkable career, the global response to the war in Ukraine and what it was like to sit across from Vladimir Putin.
5/13/202330 minutes, 58 seconds
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Explainer 365: Vladimir Putin’s Victory Day speech

Russia’s Victory Day parade was a more low-key affair this year, with the exception of a vitriolic speech by Vladimir Putin. Andrew Mueller dissects the meaning behind the words.
5/10/20236 minutes, 43 seconds
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Eurovision: Ukraine in the spotlight

Last year’s Eurovision Song Contest was a demonstration of the extraordinary political and diplomatic potency of this curious annual circus. For many of the same reasons, this year’s Eurovision will be as well. What has it meant to Ukraine to be the Eurovision champions this past year and how is Liverpool preparing to acknowledge the rightful hosts? With MC Kilimen, Ambassador Vadym Prystaiko and Maria Romanenko. 
5/6/202346 minutes, 31 seconds
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Explainer 364: The coronation of King Charles III

Andrew Mueller explains what to expect from the upcoming coronation of the British monarch. 
5/3/20237 minutes, 25 seconds
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I spy

In this special edition of ‘The Foreign Desk’, we speak to former spies from different intelligence services serving in different eras. We’ll find out how to recruit assets, disrupt communications, adopt false identities and, if necessary, get out in a hurry. And we’ll learn how and why spies become spies.
4/29/202346 minutes, 32 seconds
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Explainer 363: Australia’s defence review

Australia’s defence review has identified an urgent need for the country to bolster its military personnel and weaponry, despite being in peacetime. Andrew Mueller discusses whether this conclusion is paranoid or has merit.
4/26/20237 minutes, 53 seconds
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Thailand’s election: what is at stake?

The race to be Thailand’s next prime minister could result in a major opposition victory. Will the election be free and fair? Andrew Mueller speaks to Gwen Robinson, Kiara Kijburana and Pavin Chachavalpongpun, while James Chambers meets Korn Chatikavanij and Tisana Choonhavan.
4/22/202343 minutes, 49 seconds
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Explainer 362: What’s happening in Sudan?

Andrew Mueller explains the background of the deadly conflict in Sudan.
4/19/20237 minutes, 55 seconds
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Georgia on the brink

Georgia’s imprisoned former president, Mikhail Saakashvili, has become a focal point for thousands of Georgians who are protesting against what they believe is the government’s increasingly authoritarian – and pro-Russian – behaviour. What is behind the crisis in Georgia? Andrew Mueller speaks to Will Cathcart, Bill Browder, Rayhan Demytrie and Olesya Vartanyan.
4/15/202333 minutes, 46 seconds
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Explainer 361: Six degrees from Ireland

About 45 million Americans claim Irish ancestry – almost 10 times the population of Ireland. This is especially true of US presidents from John F Kennedy onwards. Andrew Mueller explains why.
4/12/20238 minutes, 52 seconds
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Good Friday Agreement, 25 years on

It has been 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, a landmark accord that largely ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland. As the country marks the milestone of a quarter century of (relative) peace, what challenges remain? Andrew Mueller speaks to Jonathan Powell, Aoife Moore and Glenn Patterson.
4/8/202338 minutes, 50 seconds
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Explainer 360: A Presidential Incarceration?

Donald Trump appeared in a New York court this week facing 34 felony charges. Andrew Mueller explains whether incarceration can preclude the former president from being re-elected. 
4/5/20238 minutes, 26 seconds
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Why are Nordic nations great mediators?

Nordic nations are globally renowned for their contributions to international diplomacy. Why do Nordic countries excel as peace mediators? In this special episode, Andrew Mueller speaks to the president of Iceland, Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson; the former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb; Janne Taalas, Jonathan Powell and Heini Lehtinen.
4/1/202338 minutes, 48 seconds
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Explainer 359: It’s about time

Lebanese citizens were left hanging this week after an indecision on daylight saving time. Andrew Mueller explains.
3/29/20236 minutes, 28 seconds
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Iran and Saudi Arabia: friends again?

Regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran have agreed to restore diplomatic relations in a deal brokered by China. Will this landmark rapprochement have a ripple effect across the Middle East? Andrew Mueller speaks to Sanam Vakil, Bernard Haykel, Vali Nasr and Yossi Mekelberg.
3/25/202330 minutes
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Explainer 358: Colombia: Total Peace

In 2022, Colombia’s president, Gustavo Petro, introduced his Total Peace concept, a plan intended to encourage criminal gangs to compromise with the government. Andrew Mueller explains how recent events have impeded such ambitions.
3/22/20237 minutes, 48 seconds
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Climate change: could militaries save the world?

Climate change is not merely an environmental problem; it’s also a threat to security and stability, and a possible cause of conflict. Could it therefore be the case that climate security and national security are the same thing? Andrew Mueller speaks to the deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, François Bausch, Pauline Baudu and General Tom Middendorp.
3/18/202330 minutes
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Explainer 357: The awkward truth about Aukus

The US, UK and Australia have announced details of their plan to create a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Andrew Mueller explains how we got here.
3/15/20238 minutes, 44 seconds
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‘We told you so’

As Russia’s attacks on Ukraine rage on, Baltic and Balkan countries are feeling vindicated in their warnings about Putin’s intentions. For years, the regions have warned about the immediate dangers posed by Russia and now the west appears to be listening. In this special episode, Andrew Mueller speaks to the prime ministers of Lithuania and Kosovo, the president of Slovenia, the former president of Estonia and the former deputy prime minister of Latvia.
3/11/202330 minutes
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Explainer 356: Who is Kemal Kilicdaroglu? 

An opposition candidate has been selected for the upcoming Turkish presidential election. Andrew Mueller explains who he is and how he differs from President Erdogan. 
3/8/20236 minutes, 27 seconds
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Finland and Sweden: in NATO’s waiting room

It’s been more than a year since Finland and Sweden submitted their applications to become NATO’s 31st and 32nd members. While the two Nordic neighbours remain on the cusp of joining the alliance, Turkey and Hungary have yet to give them the green light. How long will this take? And will both nations be able to join the alliance hand-in-hand? Andrew Mueller speaks to Sweden’s minister for foreign affairs, Tobias Billström; Finland’s minister for foreign affairs, Pekka Haavisto; Norway’s minister for foreign affairs, Anniken Huitfeldt; and the former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb.
3/4/202330 minutes
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Explainer 355: Ron DeSantis vs Disney World

Over the past year, Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has been removing self-governing rights from Disney World and imposing government oversight on the parks. Andrew Mueller explains why.
3/1/20237 minutes, 3 seconds
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Munich Security Conference special edition

In this special episode, recorded at the Munich Security Conference, Andrew Mueller sits down with the prime minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, Iceland’s minister for foreign affairs, Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir, and the president of Open Society Foundations, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown.
2/25/202330 minutes
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Explainer 354: Is Moldova Russia’s next target?

Moldova’s president, Maia Sandu, has warned of a Russian plot to overthrow her government. Andrew Mueller explains why this is possible and how Moldova is trying to keep Moscow at bay.
2/22/20236 minutes, 50 seconds
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Nigeria’s election: what is at stake?

Next week voters in Africa’s most populous nation will head to the polls to elect a new president. What are the main issues dominating the election and how will it impact the wider region? Andrew Mueller speaks to Aanu Adeoye, Leena Koni Hoffmann and Dipo Faloyin.
2/18/202330 minutes
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Explainer 353: Courting autocracy in Israel

Andrew Mueller explains Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul Israel’s judicial system, which has led to mass protests.
2/15/20236 minutes, 30 seconds
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Will the Adani affair hurt Narendra Modi?

As India gears up for its general election next year, anger over the Adani empire led by Gautam Adani, a Modi ally, is growing. Will the Adani affair cast a shadow on the prime minister? Andrew Mueller speaks to Shruti Kapila, Sumit Ganguly and Somnath Batabyal.
2/11/202330 minutes
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Explainer 352: Disaster diplomacy

On Monday earthquakes devastated Turkey and Syria. Thousands have been killed. Diplomatic offers of assistance have been flooding in from usually hostile neighbours. Andrew Mueller looks to recent history and explains the successes and failures of past disaster diplomacy.
2/8/20236 minutes, 30 seconds
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The global ageing crisis: are we ready?

Many developed nations face a looming ageing-population crisis. What are governments doing to cope with this global trend that poses major political and economic challenges? Andrew Mueller speaks to Agnès Poirier, James Raymo, Marie Le Conte and Stephanie Hegarty.
2/4/202330 minutes
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Explainer 351: Why is Putin key to Nagorno-Karabakh?

In 2020, Azerbaijan used military force to take control of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region from Armenia. Today there are reports of blockades leading to starvation and sickness. Andrew Mueller explains how Vladimir Putin could stop the siege but why he probably won’t.
2/1/20237 minutes, 7 seconds
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Lula 3.0: what lies ahead for Brazil?

Luiz Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva was sworn in as Brazil’s president for the third time in January in a stunning comeback following four years of Bolsonaro’s far-right government. The newly inaugurated president now faces an uphill battle to rebuild his country and reinstate Brazil as a leading player on the world stage. What will Lula’s foreign policy look like? Andrew Mueller speaks to Fernando Augusto Pacheco, Christopher Sabatini, Cecilia Tornaghi and Sarah Shenker.
1/28/202330 minutes
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Explainer 350: Sweden’s Nato bid and Turkey

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been finding as many reasons as he can to prevent Sweden from being accepted into Nato. Andrew Mueller explains why and asks, when push comes to shove, will Turkey really block Sweden’s bid?
1/25/20236 minutes, 52 seconds
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No defence: Germany’s military reluctance

This week, Germany found itself needing a new defence minister amid criticisms for not agreeing to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks. Why is Germany still so afraid of taking a military stance? Is Europe ready for an active German army? And how does this apprehension look to Ukrainians? Andrew Mueller is joined by Quentin Peel, Susan Neiman and Aliona Hlivco.
1/21/202330 minutes
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Explainer 349: For your ears only – the Biden files

Less than half a year after classified papers were found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, Maga fans are gleefully accusing Joe Biden of the same misdeeds that they defend the former president over. Andrew Mueller explains the severity of the situation.
1/18/20237 minutes, 34 seconds
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A climate for conflict: how the environment shapes warfare

The environment and the climate are factors in every conflict; the changing of the seasons has been arguably decisive on many occasions. How have militaries learned to adapt? How can those lessons be applied to conditions that may be changing beyond recognition? And can we stop climate wars from being fought? Andrew Mueller speaks to Sherri Goodman, Jasper Humphreys and Dr David Kilcullen.
1/14/202330 minutes
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Explainer 348: Storming of Congress: Is Brazil copying the US?

There are many similarities between the US elections that led up to the 6 January 2021 Capitol attack and the storming of Brazil’s Congress, two years and two days later. Andrew Mueller explains the key differences.
1/11/20238 minutes, 12 seconds
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The rise of paradiplomacy

One usually thinks of diplomacy as something conducted at state level by presidents and prime ministers. But nation-states are no longer the sole actors in the international arena. Cities and sub-state governments are transforming the way we conduct foreign affairs. How does paradiplomacy work? And what makes a good paradiplomat? Andrew Mueller speaks to the mayor of Tirana, Erion Veliaj, Professor Michael Keating and Kate Sanderson, head of representation of the Faroe Islands in London.
1/7/202330 minutes
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Explainer 347: The case against Ian Khama

Botswana’s former president Ian Khama is facing criminal charges relating to firearms, money laundering and more. Andrew Mueller explains where these accusations have come from.
1/4/20236 minutes, 41 seconds
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Looking back at 2022 and forward to 2023

We look back on the big events of the past 12 months and peer ahead to next year. Andrew Mueller speaks to John Everard, Aliona Hlivco, Alex von Tunzelmann and Lada Roslycky.
12/31/202230 minutes
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Softly Does It

As Monocle’s annual Soft Power Survey hits the newsstands, we consider the established and bizarre ways that countries project themselves abroad, from panda diplomacy and royalty to the craft of culinary persuasion. Andrew Mueller speaks to Paul Jepson, Lauren Bernstein, Nic Robertson and Paul Brannagan.
12/24/202230 minutes
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Christmas in Finland: Santa, saunas and songs

In this special Christmas episode, we head to the homeland of Santa Claus to examine some of Finland’s wonderful festive traditions. Andrew Mueller sits down with the country’s former president Tarja Halonen, Mr Claus and Markus Hippi to find out how Finns like to celebrate. Plus: Mueller gets hot and sweaty inside a sauna with Finland’s ambassador to the UK, Jukka Siukosaari.
12/17/202230 minutes
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Explainer 346: The trial of Moussa Dadis Camara

Andrew Mueller explains why Guinea’s former leader, Moussa Dadis Camara, stands accused of involvement in a 2009 massacre.
12/14/20226 minutes, 50 seconds
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Qatar World Cup: a sportswashing own goal?

This year’s Fifa World Cup in Qatar has a strong claim to be the most controversial football competition ever. Amid relentless criticism over the nation’s human-rights record, has Qatar’s soft-power push backfired? Andrew Mueller speaks to Craig Foster, Shaka Hislop, Laura McAllister, Paul Brannagan and Danyel Reiche.
12/10/202230 minutes
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Explainer 345: Is it over for Ramaphosa?

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, is mired in a convoluted corruption scandal. That is not unusual for the country but, as Andrew Mueller explains, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
12/7/20227 minutes, 29 seconds
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Iran: an unstoppable movement?

For more than two months, Iran has been rocked by protests ignited by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police. The unrest has continued steadily as women and a disproportionately young generation seek a better way of life. Why have these protests proved so durable and will it break the regime? Andrew Mueller speaks to Ramita Navai, Negin Shiraghaei and Holly Dagres.
12/3/202230 minutes
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Explainer 344: Cracks in a fragile China

Unrest has been brewing in China, where the threat of a heavy-handed police state is usually enough to dissuade dissent. Andrew Mueller explains why there are protests – and why now.
11/30/20227 minutes, 8 seconds
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NATO’s revival

Once declared “brain-dead” by Emmanuel Macron, NATO has been rejuvenated by the conflict in Ukraine. In this special episode, Andrew Mueller speaks to General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and General Sir Richard Shirreff, NATO’s former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
11/26/202230 minutes
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Explainer 343: Turkey vs the PKK

Andrew Mueller explains Turkey’s longstanding and violent feud with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.
11/23/20226 minutes, 30 seconds
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Why aren’t there more women in politics?

While female representation in politics has improved in recent years, gender parity remains a distant dream. Women comprise more than half of the global population but only 26 per cent of lawmakers around the world are female. Why aren’t there more women in politics? And what will it take to finally shatter the glass ceiling? Andrew Mueller speaks to Iceland’s minister for foreign affairs, Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, Dr Meryl Kenny and Lance Price.
11/19/202230 minutes
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Explainer 342: Qatar World Cup: how did we get here?

Why would Fifa host the World Cup in a country that not only has a hostile climate for sport and abuses human rights but has also never taken part in the competition? Andrew Mueller tries to explain.
11/16/20228 minutes, 8 seconds
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Historical series: The Trojan War

In part three of our historical series, we travel back to the Bronze Age to revisit the Trojan War. Why did the Trojans fall for the Greeks’ wooden-horse stunt? Andrew Mueller speaks to Hannah Lucinda Smith, Jane Draycott and Daisy Dunn.
11/12/202230 minutes
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Explainer 341: Meddling China

Andrew Mueller explains the allegations that China is influencing democratic elections in the West.
11/9/20226 minutes, 56 seconds
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Historical series: Easter Rising

In part two of our historical series, we travel back to 1916 to chart the Easter Rebellion. What was happening in Ireland and how did the British authorities not see this coming? Andrew Mueller speaks to Bríona Nic Dhiarmada, Quentin Peel and John Dorney.
11/5/202230 minutes
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Explainer 340: Benjamin Netanyahu’s election comeback

Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be on course to lead the most right-wing government in Israel’s history. Andrew Mueller unpacks the former prime minister’s dramatic political comeback.
11/2/20226 minutes, 35 seconds
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Historical series: The Sputnik crisis

In part one of our historical series, we travel back in time to 1957 to unpack the Sputnik crisis. What did this new satellite foreshadow, and how did the Soviet Union do it? Andrew Mueller speaks to Henry Rees-Sheridan, Tom Nichols, Mark Galeotti and Linda Dawson.
10/29/202230 minutes
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Explainer 339: Why won’t Israel send weapons to Ukraine?

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has criticised Israel for not sending military aid to Kyiv. Andrew Mueller examines Israel’s reluctance to send weapons and where this comes from.
10/26/20226 minutes, 25 seconds
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Jens Stoltenberg

This week’s special guest on The Foreign Desk is NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, whose role has unexpectedly been extended for a year in light of current events. Andrew Mueller asks Stoltenberg for his thoughts on Russia-Ukraine, China and NATO expansion.
10/22/202230 minutes
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Explainer 338: Jamaica’s music ban

The Jamaican government has banned certain music, and other culture broadcasts, in an attempt to curb the country’s issues with violence. Andrew Mueller looks to recent history to explain why this probably won’t work.
10/19/20227 minutes, 46 seconds
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Warsaw Security Forum: Part 2

In the second of our special episodes recorded at the Warsaw Security Forum, Andrew Mueller sits down with Angela Merkel’s former foreign policy advisor, Belarus’s opposition leader and Luxembourg’s deputy prime minister.
10/15/202230 minutes
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Explainer 337: Should troops be sent into Haiti?

Haiti’s government has asked for urgent military assistance from the international community to deal with the chaos caused by gangs. Andrew Mueller examines whether storming another country is always a bad idea.
10/12/20227 minutes, 30 seconds
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Warsaw Security Forum: Lessons from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In this special episode recorded at the Warsaw Security Forum, we examine what the world has learnt from nearly eight months of war in Ukraine. Andrew Mueller speaks to General Philip Breedlove, Nato’s former Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and Emma Searle meets Ingrida Šimonytė, the prime minister of Lithuania.
10/8/202230 minutes
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Explainer 336: Lebanon and Israel’s maritime mediation

Lebanon and Israel seem to be close to striking a deal on a disputed border in the Mediterranean. Andrew Mueller explains why this is surprising and why we shouldn’t see it as the beginning of a peace negotiation.
10/5/20227 minutes, 30 seconds
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Taking a right turn

Right-wing victories in Italy and Sweden have unsettled Europe, stoking concerns about a new rightward tilt. What’s behind the rise of populism in both countries and what does this mean for Europe? Andrew Mueller speaks to Ed Stocker, Nicholas Aylott, Francesco Costa and Chiara Rimella.
10/1/202230 minutes
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Explainer 335: Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?

Andrew Mueller takes a look at the alleged founder of the Russian network of mercenaries the Wagner Group.
9/28/20227 minutes, 40 seconds
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What future awaits Hong Kong?

Twenty-five years ago, Hong Kong was handed back to China under a novel arrangement called “one country, two systems”. Following a tumultuous decade of unrest and government restrictions, what kind of future awaits Hong Kong? Andrew Mueller speaks to exiled pro-democracy activist Nathan Law, Professor Steve Tsang, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Tara Joseph and Monocle’s James Chambers.
9/24/202230 minutes
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Explainer 334: What is the European Political Community?

Next month, Prague will host the first summit of the European Political Community. Andrew Mueller explains what it is and how it differs from the European Union.
9/21/20226 minutes, 38 seconds
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Queen Elizabeth II: a funeral like no other

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will be one of the largest diplomatic events in history. Emperors, kings, queens and other foreign leaders will descend on London to pay their respects to the UK’s longest-reigning monarch. How important will this event be in terms of international relations? Andrew Mueller speaks to King Letsie III of Lesotho, John Everard, Lucy Hume, Nic Robertson and Helen Zille.
9/17/202230 minutes
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Explainer 333: ‘Lèse-majesté’

Monarchies can last only for as long as their citizens believe in them. Andrew Mueller examines what happens when the public doesn’t have a choice.
9/14/20226 minutes, 46 seconds
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Apocalypse now?

From nuclear armageddon to climate change, fears over doomsday scenarios have a long history. But where does this obsession with the end of the world come from and what does this reveal about real-world politics? Andrew Mueller speaks to Mike Bruford, Asmund Asdal, Tea Krulos, Sarah Posner and Michael Mills.
9/10/202230 minutes
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Explainer 332: Changing of the guard

This week, Liz Truss was announced as the new prime minister of the United Kingdom. Andrew Mueller explains why visiting the Queen is the first (and last) stop for each PM.
9/7/20227 minutes, 43 seconds
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Polar powers: the future of Arctic security

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has called for the alliance to boost its presence in the Arctic amid Russia’s military build-up in the region. As the Arctic undergoes significant shifts due to climate change and increasing interest from major powers, we ask what this means for the future of the region’s security. Andrew Mueller speaks to Benedetta Berti-Alberti, Malte Humpert, Caroline Kennedy-Pipe and Mia Otokiak.
9/3/202230 minutes
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Explainer 331: Who is Muqtada al-Sadr?

Earlier this week violent protesters took to Iraq’s streets, leading to several deaths and many people being injured – prompted by the sudden announcement of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s retirement from politics. Andrew Mueller explains who he is and why he has such a strong hold over the country’s citizens.
8/31/20227 minutes, 27 seconds
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Six months of war in Ukraine – what next?

As Ukraine marks 31 years of independence, exactly six months after Russia’s invasion of the country, we ask what the next few months might bring. Will Europe’s support for Ukraine hold? Andrew Mueller speaks to Marlene Laruelle, Suzanne Lynch, Anna Nemtsova and Alya Shandra.
8/27/202230 minutes
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Explainer 330: Imran Khan

Former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has been charged by police with breaching the country’s anti-terror act. Andrew Mueller explains what this is all about.
8/24/20226 minutes
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Kenya’s new leader

William Ruto has been elected as Kenya’s next president, narrowly defeating veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga. Who is William Ruto and how will he position Kenya on the world stage? Andrew Mueller speaks to Moses Onyango, Naveena Kottoor and Murithi Mutiga.
8/20/202230 minutes
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Explainer 329 – Scott Morrison: That’s not my job

Revelations have emerged that the former prime minister of Australia Scott Morrison had himself sworn in to five cabinet positions while serving as the leader of the government. Andrew Mueller tries to explain his rationale.
8/17/20227 minutes, 35 seconds
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Moldova: Putin’s next target?

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, there has been concern that Moldova might also be in Moscow’s sights. How threatened is Moldova and how can Europe help to protect it? Andrew Mueller speaks to Paula Erizanu, Valeriu Pasha, Alexandru Flenchea and General Sir Richard Shirreff.
8/13/202230 minutes
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Explainer 328: Gaza

Last week Israel launched air strikes on targets in Gaza. Andrew Mueller explains what makes this event different from the usual warfare with Palestine.
8/10/20226 minutes, 45 seconds
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The trouble with Taiwan

Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip was met with fury in Beijing, raising fears of a potential clash between the US and China. Was Pelosi’s visit a good idea? Can any lessons be drawn from Lithuania’s David-and-Goliath clash with China? Where do we go from here? Monocle’s Andrew Mueller speaks to Samson Ellis, Lithuania’s minister of foreign affairs, Gabrielius Landsbergis and Bonnie Glaser.
8/6/202230 minutes
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Explainer 327: Why is Serbia irate over licence plates?

Kosovo intends to implement a policy that requires drivers in the country to use Kosovan licence plates but Serbia isn’t happy. Andrew Mueller explains what this is really about.
8/3/20228 minutes
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The art of not taking sides

While much of the west is united against Russia’s war in Ukraine, other countries have avoided taking sides. What does it really mean to be neutral and is non-alignment still possible in today’s connected world? To examine the cases of South Africa, Switzerland, Japan and Sweden, Andrew Mueller speaks to Elizabeth Sidiropoulos, Benno Zogg, Pälvi Pulli, Tomohiko Taniguchi and Elisabeth Braw.
7/30/202230 minutes
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Explainer 326: David Trimble

Former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party David Trimble has died at the age of 77. Andrew Mueller explains how he helped to bring peace to Northern Ireland in 1998.
7/27/20227 minutes
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Ukraine: how to combat war fatigue

Five months after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, the Monocle 24 team is back on the ground to update us on the conflict. Are Ukrainians afraid of dropping out of the news cycle in allied countries? How do you prevent that from happening and why is it important to keep the war on the front pages? Andrew Mueller speaks to Martin Bell, Olga Tokariuk, Carlota Rebelo and Chris Cermak.
7/23/202230 minutes
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Explainer 325: A mix-up in Mali?

Earlier this week, Mali arrested 49 soldiers from the Côte d’Ivoire who had arrived in the country as part of an ongoing UN mission. Andrew Mueller explains if this was a moment of confusion, or defiance.
7/20/20226 minutes, 49 seconds
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Sri Lanka on a knife edge

Sri Lanka has plunged into political chaos in the face of financial meltdown. As the crisis rages on, the future of the country's 22 million people is uncertain. How did we get here and what happens next? Andrew Mueller speaks to Tanya Warnakulasuriya, Shanta Devarajan, Charu Lata Hogg and Bhavani Fonseka.
7/16/202230 minutes
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Explainer 324: Turning off the taps

Russia’s gas supply to Europe has been halted due to what Russia says are annual maintenance works and technical issues. Andrew Mueller offers an alternative explanation.
7/13/20227 minutes, 8 seconds
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Boris Johnson resigns – what next?

After weeks of clinging on, Boris Johnson has at last agreed to step down as UK prime minister. What legacy does he leave behind? What challenges will his successor face? How have Ukrainians reacted? Andrew Mueller speaks to Tobias Ellwood, Lance Price, Vincent McAviney and Aliona Hlivco.
7/9/202230 minutes
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Explainer 323: A troubled bill

Andrew Mueller explains the proposed Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill.
7/6/20226 minutes, 34 seconds
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NATO: brain-dead no more?

In this special episode, the team travels to Madrid for Nato’s most important summit in generations. How much stronger has Russia made the alliance, if only by accident? Andrew Mueller speaks to Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis; the head of policy planning in the office of the secretary general at Nato, Benedetta Berti-Alberti; and Slovenia’s minister of foreign affairs, Tanja Fajon.
7/2/202230 minutes
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Explainer 322: The capriciousness of the Supreme Court

Roe vs Wade was just the beginning. Now the current US Supreme Court appears to be overturning a whole host of previous rulings. Andrew Mueller explains how two different Supreme Courts can read the same constitutional text and get two different answers.
6/29/20226 minutes, 21 seconds
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Mark Esper

Andrew Mueller sits down with former US secretary of defence Mark Esper to discuss his tumultuous tenure in the Trump administration, the ongoing Capitol Hill committee hearings, and how he thinks other Western militaries ought to respond to current challenges.
6/25/202230 minutes
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Explainer 321: Belgium returns a Congolese hero’s golden tooth

Belgium has returned a tooth, the last remains of the murdered Congolese leader Patrice Lumumba, to members of his family. Andrew Mueller explains why.
6/22/20228 minutes, 10 seconds
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The evolution of Putin

The course of recent world history and the future of Ukraine rests on the whim of one man: Vladimir Putin. Was Putin’s rule of Russia always going to end up like this? In this episode, we hear from people who understand the evolution of Putin better than most. Andrew Mueller speaks to the former deputy energy minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Milov; the president of Montenegro, Milo Đukanović; former president of Poland Aleksander Kwaśniewski; and the former president of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid.
6/18/202230 minutes
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Explainer 320: The Rwanda deportations

Andrew Mueller explains the UK government’s plan to deport certain migrants to Rwanda.
6/15/20227 minutes
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Globsec 2022 Bratislava Forum, part two

In the second of our special episodes recorded at Globsec, Andrew Mueller sits down with Romania’s state secretary, Simona Cojocaru, former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt and Ukrainian MP Maria Mezentseva.
6/11/202230 minutes
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Explainer 319: The BJP and the contagious nature of indignation

Andrew Mueller explains how two throwaway, ill-thought-out comments from members of India’s BJP party sparked mass indignation around the world.
6/8/20225 minutes, 54 seconds
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Globsec 2022 Bratislava Forum, part one

A special episode at the Globsec 2022 Bratislava Forum. Andrew Mueller talks to Belarus’s opposition leader, the former president of Estonia and the ambassador-at-large at Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
6/4/202230 minutes
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Explainer 318: The Japanese Red Army

Following the release of Fusako Shigenobu, the co-founder of the Japanese Red Army, Andrew Mueller explains the origins of the terrorist group.
6/1/20226 minutes, 50 seconds
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Kevin Rudd: How to Avert a Conflict Between China and the US

In this special episode, Andrew Mueller sits down with the former prime minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, to discuss the volatile relationship between superpowers China and the United States, the possibility of a catastrophic war between them – and how to avert such a conflict – and what he learned during his lengthy meetings with Xi Jinping.
5/28/202230 minutes
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Explainer 317: Why is Africa divided over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?

As the president of Senegal prepares to visit Moscow and Kyiv in the coming weeks on behalf of the African Union, Andrew Mueller explains why African nations are divided over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
5/25/20227 minutes, 26 seconds
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Finland and Sweden bid to join Nato: why now?

Sweden and Finland have submitted their applications to become Nato’s 31st and 32nd members. We ask what Sweden and Finland would bring to the alliance, and if this expansion would make Nato’s mission of defending the west easier or harder. Andrew Mueller speaks to Jukka Siukosaari, the Finnish ambassador to the UK, Mikaela Kumlin Granit, Sweden’s ambassador to the UK, and to former Nato chief General Sir Richard Shirreff, among others.
5/21/202230 minutes
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Explainer 316: A Davos special in association with Finnish Flow

Following a Covid delay, the annual World Economic Forum at Davos is finally taking place again from 22 to 26 May. This year, there will be some new participants – representatives from eight cutting-edge Finnish companies that are innovating within energy, technology, healthcare and education under the banner Finnish Flow. They are aiming to take Davos by storm with their solutions to everything from the green-energy transition to helping children catch up on their Covid-struck education. In this special edition of ‘The Foreign Desk Explainer’, we hear from five Finnish Flow members, and their messages to the leaders of the world.
5/18/202230 minutes
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Children of giants

In this special episode of ‘The Foreign Desk’, we speak to the descendants of major political figures. What’s it really like to be the child of a head of state? How weird is it when everyone else’s president is your parent? And are the descendants of villains able to move on from their ancestor’s crimes? Andrew Mueller speaks to Josina Machel, Gerald Posner and Nina Khrushcheva.
5/14/202230 minutes
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Explainer 315: Taliban and the burqa

When the Taliban retook power in Afghanistan in the wake of the allied forces’ sudden departure, they assured the world that things would be different this time. This was the Taliban 2.0 after a progression of 20 years. But this week saw the return of the burqa along with hefty consequences for any woman who dares to show her face in public. Andrew Mueller explains.
5/11/20227 minutes, 38 seconds
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In sickness and in health: world leaders and illness

We all suffer from illness but, for world leaders, it can be a major PR challenge. Can one person’s illness change the course of history? Andrew Mueller speaks to Dr Dan Poulter, Alex von Tunzelmann, Lance Price and Leah J Greene.
5/7/202230 minutes
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Explainer 314: The ghost of Kyiv and other stories

Andrew Mueller delves into the world of wartime legends and explains who “the ghost of Kyiv” really is.
5/4/20228 minutes
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What is the future of space co-operation?

As space enthusiasts celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 16, we examine how space has been used throughout history as an arena for international co-operation. Andrew Mueller speaks to Nasa’s former chief historian Bill Barry, astronaut manager Christina Korp and veteran Nasa astronaut Nicole Stott.
4/30/202230 minutes
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Explainer 313: The case for compulsory voting

Almost 30 per cent of the French electorate declined to vote last weekend, while a projected 90 per cent of voters will turn out for Australia’s federal elections later this year. The difference is compulsory voting.
4/27/20226 minutes
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What does it mean to be English?

On St George’s Day, we discuss the complexities of Englishness. What does it mean to be English, as opposed to British? Why are so many on the left hesitant to embrace the national flag and how has this shaped the country’s politics? Andrew Mueller speaks to Ailsa Henderson, Christy Evans, Tariq Modood and Billy Bragg.
4/23/202230 minutes
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Explainer 312: Is there peace after InfoWars?

The far-right conspiracy website, headed by radio host Alex Jones, has filed for bankruptcy following defamation lawsuits. Andrew Mueller explains the effect of Jones’s fake-news empire and asks whether its legacy can be so easily quelled.
4/20/20228 minutes, 6 seconds