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Affairs / Podcast

The Foreign Desk

​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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Historical series: The Cuban Missile Crisis:

In part three of our historical summer series, we travel back in time to 1962 to chart the Cuban Missile Crisis. What does Fidel Castro think he’s playing at? Who is making the decisions in the Kremlin and the White House? And is there any peaceful way out of this? Andrew Mueller speaks to Henry Rees-Sheridan, James Rodgers, Alex von Tunzelmann, and Tom Nichols.

Latest episodes

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28 Jul 2021
29 min

Explainer 276: Nordic Council of Ministers series, part five – Green transport: 

Coronavirus has offered us an opportunity to rethink our travelling habits. But how will we travel in a greener way in the future? ‘The Foreign Desk’ and Michael Booth, our Denmark correspondent, have teamed up with the Nordic Council of Ministers for a series of five special episodes delving deeper into topics of global importance from the region. The fifth episode looks at green transport, as we discover how the Nordics are electrifying everything from ferries to planes, and hear how a certain Swedish environmental campaigner has persuaded her compatriots to shift to long-distance trains.

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39524 Jul 2021
30 min

Historical series: The Cuban Missile Crisis: 

In part three of our historical summer series, we travel back in time to 1962 to chart the Cuban Missile Crisis. What does Fidel Castro think he’s playing at? Who is making the decisions in the Kremlin and the White House? And is there any peaceful way out of this? Andrew Mueller speaks to Henry Rees-Sheridan, James Rodgers, Alex von Tunzelmann, and Tom Nichols.

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21 Jul 2021
6 min

Explainer 275: Venezuela’s two presidents: 

Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro was comfortably re-elected to office in 2018. Or was he? Allegations of a false result have led the UK government to formally recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s official premier despite simultaneously continuing diplomatic relations with Maduro’s administration. Both are trying to access gold reserves held by the Bank of England. The British courts must now make a conclusive decision.

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39417 Jul 2021
30 min

Historical series: the Suez crisis: 

In part two of our special historical series this summer, we examine the Suez crisis of 1956. Ever since Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser announced his plans to nationalise the Suez Canal, the UK hasn’t looked quite so sure of itself. What does the country think it’s doing? What is Israel’s long game? And how will this impact the UK’s relationship with the United States? Andrew Mueller speaks to Michael Binyon, John Everard, Anshel Pfeffer and Alex von Tunzelmann.

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14 Jul 2021
7 min

Explainer 274: England vs Racism: 

England has been awash with ugly outbursts of racism during the Euro 2020 football competition and since the national team’s defeat against Italy at the final, it has been directed at the home squad. How was bigotry allowed to fester during the tournament and how are the England players working to combat it? Andrew Mueller explains.

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39310 Jul 2021
30 min

Historical series: The assassination of Franz Ferdinand: 

In part one of our special historical summer series, we travel back in time to 1914 to discuss the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Who has done this and why? Is this a big deal or not? Or could it possibly become one by accident? Andrew Mueller speaks to Guy de Launey, Quentin Peel and Tamara Scheer.

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7 Jul 2021
6 min

Explainer 273: Ibizagate: 

The party is over for former vice-chancellor of Austria, Heinz-Christian Strache, who faces corruption charges following investigations into ‘Ibizagate’. But what was the big scandal about and does it end there? Andrew Mueller explains.

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3923 Jul 2021
30 min

When will Australia reopen?: 

This week the Australian government announced plans to halve the number of international arrivals it accepts – the latest among a string of restrictions imposed in the country. On numbers alone, Australia can claim to have been a coronavirus success story. But a lockdown as rigorous as the one Australia has imposed on itself is easier to get into than out of. So when will the country actually reopen? What is the way out? And is science or politics driving the decision-making? Andrew Mueller speaks to Karen Middleton, Latika Bourke, Dr Chris Smith and Professor Marc Stears.

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30 Jun 2021
28 min

Explainer 272: Nordic Council of Ministers series, part four – Nordic co-operation: 

Co-operation between the Nordic countries is experiencing a bit of a wobble. The refugee crisis and now coronavirus have exposed the fissures in this usually well-functioning cross-border fraternity. ‘The Foreign Desk’ and our Denmark correspondent Michael Booth have teamed up with the Nordic Council of Ministers for a series of five monthly special episodes delving deeper into topics of global importance from the region. The fourth episode looks at Nordic co-operation. What’s gone wrong, and what can be done to bring a little more harmony to the countries of the north?

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39126 Jun 2021
30 min

Checkmate: chess and politics: 

Sometimes art imitates life; sometimes games do too. And parallels between chess and the political arena have existed for centuries. But are there really any similarities? How was the game used as a pawn in the cold war? And could the chessboard once again become a soft-power battleground? Andrew Mueller speaks to Judit Polgar, David Edmonds, and Dana Reizniece-Ozola.

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23 Jun 2021
6 min

Explainer 271: Who is Iran’s next president?: 

Ebrahim Raisi has been elected as the next president of Iran. The former judiciary head enjoys backing from the hardline revolutionary camp and is set to take over from the moderate outgoing President Rouhani in early August. Who is the conservative leader? What does he stand for? And what are his presidential ambitions?

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39019 Jun 2021
30 min

Is the age of intervention over?: 

The United States’ ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan marks the end of America’s longest war. But it may also signal the end of humanitarian intervention. Perhaps as a consequence of the Afghanistan and Iraq interventions, the world appears to have turned its back on the crises in Syria, Myanmar, Tigray and Xinjiang. Is the age of intervention really over? What circumstances would justify a revival of the idea? And what are the costs of doing nothing? Andrew Mueller speaks to Jaclyn Streitfeld-Hall, General Roméo Dallaire, and David Scheffer.

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16 Jun 2021
6 min

Explainer 270: Who is Naftali Bennett?: 

Naftali Bennett, the leader of the nationalist Yamina alliance, was sworn in on Sunday as Israel’s new prime minister, ending the 12-year reign of incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett has promised to unite the country despite the fragile government coalition made up of centrist, right-wing, left-wing and Arab parties with very little in common. Who is Naftali Bennett and what are his prospects as Israel’s new prime minister?

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38912 Jun 2021
30 min

Sport and politics: an inseparable marriage: 

The European Football Championship and Copa America kicked off at the weekend in Europe and Brazil, and the Olympics are slated to happen in Japan in July. The organisers of these spectacles will no doubt seek to keep politics out of the events. But sport – especially international sport – is inherently political. So why do we insist on pretending it isn’t? And is it necessarily a bad thing if it is? Andrew Mueller speaks to Tim Marshall, Fiona Wilson, Fernando Augusto Pacheco and John Taylor.

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9 Jun 2021
6 min

Explainer 269: Nigeria’s Twitter ban: 

Nigeria has banned Twitter after the social-media firm removed an inflammatory tweet by President Buhari. This is not the only issue the Nigerian government has with the platform but, as Andrew Mueller explains, the move is unlikely to work out as desired.

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