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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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China’s Belt and Road: a win-win or debt trap?:

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has manifested in railways, airports, seaports and highways all over the world. What is China’s endgame? How do locals feel about these development projects? And are we witnessing old-fashioned empire building but with Chinese characteristics? Andrew Mueller speaks to Isabel Hilton, Lucinda Elliott, Fiona Ey and Aly-Khan Satchu.

Latest episodes

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42122 Jan 2022
30 min

China’s Belt and Road: a win-win or debt trap?: 

China’s Belt and Road Initiative has manifested in railways, airports, seaports and highways all over the world. What is China’s endgame? How do locals feel about these development projects? And are we witnessing old-fashioned empire building but with Chinese characteristics? Andrew Mueller speaks to Isabel Hilton, Lucinda Elliott, Fiona Ey and Aly-Khan Satchu.

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19 Jan 2022
7 min

Explainer 299: What does Russia want with Ukraine?: 

As tensions between Russia and Ukraine tighten, Andrew Mueller reflects on their fickle friendship and speculates on what Putin really wants from the situation.

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42015 Jan 2022
30 min

When currencies collapse: 

Turkey, once an economic powerhouse, is experiencing a currency meltdown as inflation skyrockets against a backdrop of unorthodox policies. What can we learn from past currency crises? How do people get around hyperinflation woes? And how can governments address it? Andrew Mueller speaks to Hannah Lucinda Smith, Andrew Walker, Marija Tesic Fidelak, Penny Stone and Richard Beattie.

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12 Jan 2022
5 min

Explainer 298: Will Sudan settle? : 

UN-sponsored talks are taking place in Sudan after more than 60 people died demonstrating against the most recent coup-d’etat in October. Andrew Mueller explains how far back the unrest extends and ponders whether a resolution can be reached.

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4198 Jan 2022
30 min

Is the doctrine of nuclear deterrence still relevant?: 

​In a rare joint statement issued on Monday, five of the world’s most powerful nations pledged to avoid nuclear war. In this episode of ‘The Foreign Desk’, we examine the doctrine of nuclear deterrence. Does possessing a nuclear deterrent make the world safer? Is a world without atomic weapons even possible? And what’s it like to be the person tasked, if the order to unleash the apocalypse ever did come, with turning the key? Andrew Mueller speaks to Tom Nichols, Margaret MacMillan and Dana Struckman.

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5 Jan 2022
7 min

Capitol riots: one year later: 

One year ago on 6 January, a violent mob forced its way past lines of police officers and into the US Capitol building in Washington. As investigators continue to examine exactly what happened that day, many questions remain unanswered. Andrew Mueller shares his take on what we’ve learned since the insurrection.

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4181 Jan 2022
30 min

Looking back at 2021 and forward to 2022: 

We look back on the big events of the past 12 months and peer ahead to 2022. Andrew Mueller speaks to Quentin Peel, Latika Bourke and Lewis Lukens.

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41725 Dec 2021
30 min

War and peas: the role of food in diplomacy: 

As millions of families tuck into their Christmas turkey and load up their plates with leftovers from the festive season, we examine the role of food in global politics. What is culinary diplomacy? Is the kitchen really the new venue for foreign policy? And what exactly goes into preparing the menu for a state banquet?

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41618 Dec 2021
30 min

Pandas, pangolins, and koalas: can animals be diplomats?: 

Exotic animals have long been used as unlikely but effective furry ambassadors to further a country’s international influence. Whether it’s China strategically loaning giant pandas as a gesture of goodwill, Australia flaunting the kangaroo as part of its national brand or Taiwan dispatching pangolins to Prague, animals have been used as diplomatic tools for centuries. How does animal diplomacy actually work? How does one Fedex a wild animal? And what can animals teach humans about global cooperation?

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15 Dec 2021
6 min

Merry Christmas, war is over? : 

Almost 80 years since North Korea signed an armistice deal, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-In, has announced that talks are in progress officially to end the war between the two states once and for all. Andrew Mueller explains why this is happening now, and, if it’s likely to happen at all.

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41511 Dec 2021
30 min

Is Bosnia on the brink of breaking up?: 

Will Bosnia break apart? Andrew Mueller speaks to Guy De Launey and Irma Baralija, as well as ambassadors Vanja Filipovic and Bruce Berton.

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8 Dec 2021
29 min

Nordic Council of Ministers series, part ten: Decarbonising industry: 

The decarbonisation of industry is perhaps the greatest challenge we face in the race to achieve carbon neutrality. Think of it as the invisible stuff, the ugly stuff and the boring stuff we’d probably rather not think about: shipping, construction, steel, data processing and so on. In this episode of The Foreign Desk Explainer in association with the Nordic Council of Ministers, we will hear from the Nordic companies that are attempting to achieve carbon neutrality and create a paradigm shift in their industries.

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4144 Dec 2021
30 min

Sportswashing: what is it and does it work?: 

​As the inaugural Saudi Arabia Grand Prix kicks off in Jeddah, allegations of sportswashing have resurfaced relating to the country’s poor human rights record. What is sportswashing? What does it look like? And does it actually work? Andrew Mueller speaks to Paul Michael Brannagan, Areej Al Sadhan and Bruce Kidd.

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1 Dec 2021
6 min

Queen’s gambit: The future of Elizabeth II’s states: 

Barbados has officially removed Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state after 55 years living independently from the UK. The divorce was amicable among all parties and opens the door for more member states to do the same. Andrew Mueller explains how, and when, that might happen.

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41327 Nov 2021
30 min

El Salvador bets on Bitcoin; what could go wrong?: 

Wearing a backwards baseball cap, El Salvador’s president Nayib Bukele unveiled plans to build “Bitcoin City” at the base of a volcano and adopt cryptocurrency as legal tender. While supporters have hailed the president’s ambitions, not all Salvadorans “Feel the Bit”. Is Bukele’s big idea as mad as it sounds? Andrew Mueller speaks to Carmen Valeria Escobar, Danielle Mackey and professor Cathy Mulligan.

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