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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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Latest episode

Who rules space?:

Chinese rocket debris is expected to fall to Earth this weekend but it’s not clear when or where. The major space-power launched the first module of its new space station this week and also plans to build a lunar station in co-operation with Russia. But what are the rules of space – who makes them and how are they enforced? And what would conflict in space look like? Andrew Mueller talks to Chris Hadfield, Namrata Goswami, David Burbach and Christopher Newman.

Latest episodes

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3848 May 2021
30 min

Who rules space?: 

Chinese rocket debris is expected to fall to Earth this weekend but it’s not clear when or where. The major space-power launched the first module of its new space station this week and also plans to build a lunar station in co-operation with Russia. But what are the rules of space – who makes them and how are they enforced? And what would conflict in space look like? Andrew Mueller talks to Chris Hadfield, Namrata Goswami, David Burbach and Christopher Newman.

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5 May 2021
6 min

Explainer 264: Australia – homeward bound?: 

Australia has been incredibly successful in curbing the spread of coronavirus within the country, mainly due to the reactive and stringent lockdown measures that have been in place over the past year. However, many Australian citizens have found themselves stranded around the world with no hope of returning any time soon. Andrew Mueller explains why the Australian government isn’t feeling pressured to reverse its decision.

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3831 May 2021
30 min

Can Cyprus be put back together? : 

Talks on the future of Cyprus took place in Geneva this week, attempting to find an answer to the decades-old questions of if and how the divided island can be reunified. How did Cyprus get here? And is there a way out of this? Andrew Mueller is joined by Anna Koukkides-Procopiou, Sertac Sonan and Hubert Faustmann.

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28 Apr 2021
29 min

Explainer 263: Nordic Council of Ministers series, part two: Cultural collaboration: 

What’s behind the great Nordic cultural wave which has swept across the world in recent years – the great TV series, burgeoning art scene, and Oscar-winning films? The answer is collaboration, as we hear from star of ‘The Bridge’ Sofia Helin, among other leading figures from the Nordic arts scene. ‘The Foreign Desk’ and our Denmark correspondent Michael Booth have teamed up with the Nordic Council of Ministers for a series of five special, monthly episodes delving deeper into topics of global importance from the region, the second of which looks at cultural collaboration.

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38224 Apr 2021
30 min

The US and guns: can anything change?: 

One thing that coronavirus didn’t change in the US was the country’s shocking rate of gun deaths: even under widespread lockdowns, mass shootings spiked sharply. But Joe Biden has declared his intention to address a scourge he has described as a national embarrassment. What can actually be done? And is a beleaguered NRA quite the obstacle it once was? Andrew Mueller speaks to Kris Brown, Robert Spitzer and Frank Smyth.

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22 Apr 2021
6 min

Explainer 262: What happened to the European Super League?: 

The European Super League was proudly presented on Sunday 18 April as a new facet of weekday football, set to earn the 12 confirmed teams vast sums into the hundreds of millions. Just three days later, only two teams remain committed. Andrew Mueller explains why it all fell to pieces.

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38117 Apr 2021
30 min

Bringing the ‘Benin Bronzes’ home: 

In recent weeks several museums in Europe announced that they are planning to return the treasures known as the ‘Benin Bronzes’, which were looted from what is now Nigeria by British troops in 1897. But why now, after years of clamour for their restitution? Will more museums follow? And what does it mean for a people when stolen property comes home? Andrew Mueller is joined by Victor Ehikhamenor, Barnaby Phillips and Ngarino Ellis.

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14 Apr 2021
5 min

Explainer 261: Who keeps attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities?: 

After an Iranian nuclear facility was reportedly the subject of an attack over the weekend, Tehran’s fingers firmly pointed in the direction of Israel. Andrew Mueller explains why this may not be a false judgement.

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38010 Apr 2021
30 min

‘The Middle East Crisis Factory’: 

How did the Middle East get broken, and how can it be fixed? What does the future look like for its 500 million – mostly very young – people? And what role should the West play? These are among the questions considered by Iyad El-Baghdadi and Ahmed Gatnash in their new book ‘The Middle East Crisis Factory’. Andrew Mueller is joined by El–Baghdadi to explore a vision for peace and democracy in the region and asks former member of the Tunisian parliament Khawla Ben Aicha how she went about trying to achieve it.

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7 Apr 2021
7 min

Explainer 260: Jordan’s royal rift: 

Jordan’s usually placid and stable monarchy has been rocked this week, after the sudden arrest of Prince Hamzah following claims of a planned coup against his brother, King Abdullah II. Andrew Mueller explains how Saudi Arabia might have played a role in the events.

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3793 Apr 2021
30 min

Why did Brazil’s defence chiefs quit?: 

In the biggest crisis of Jair Bolsonaro’s presidency so far, the heads of the army, navy and air force all resigned. What are they trying to achieve? What does it mean for Bolsonaro’s future? And what role has the military played in Brazil’s recent political history? Andrew Mueller asks Fernando Augusto Pacheco, Vinicius Mariano de Carvalho and Samantha Pearson.

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31 Mar 2021
29 min

Explainer 259: Nordic Council of Ministers series, part one: Education: 

The Nordic countries have a proud history of high achievement in international education rankings but how are they future-proofing the next generation, and what can the world learn from the Nordic model? ‘The Foreign Desk’ and our Denmark correspondent, Michael Booth have teamed up with the Nordic Council of Ministers for a series of five special, monthly episodes delving deeper into topics of global importance from the region, the first of which looks at education.

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37827 Mar 2021
30 min

António Guterres: 

In this special episode of ‘The Foreign Desk’, Monocle’s news editor Christopher Cermak speaks with United Nations secretary-general António Guterres about his plans to revive international diplomacy and reform the UN, and why he is feeling “hopeful” about 2021.

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24 Mar 2021
6 min

Explainer 258: What are Benjamin Netanyahu’s options?: 

The results from Israel’s fourth election in two years are currently inconclusive. Andrew Mueller explains what prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu might need to do to retain power.

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37720 Mar 2021
30 min

Who are the Boko Haram copycats?: 

Ever since Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria in 2014, other groups have copied their tactics. Some 800 students have been taken from Nigerian schools since December, including 30 from a college in Kaduna last week. Who are the kidnappers? Are they criminals or terrorists – or both? And how can they be stopped? Andrew Mueller asks Chika Oduah, Nnamdi Obasi and David Kilcullen.

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