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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

Tear Down This Wall: Life behind the Iron Curtain:

​In the second part of our series on the fall of communism 30 years ago, Andrew Mueller is joined by Carmen Bugan, Anna Funder and Tim Mohr to look at what life was like behind the Iron Curtain, including the surveillance by secret police, the personality cult of the leaders and the underground subcultures that rebelled.

Latest episodes

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30616 Nov 2019
30 min

Tear Down This Wall: Life behind the Iron Curtain: 

​In the second part of our series on the fall of communism 30 years ago, Andrew Mueller is joined by Carmen Bugan, Anna Funder and Tim Mohr to look at what life was like behind the Iron Curtain, including the surveillance by secret police, the personality cult of the leaders and the underground subcultures that rebelled.

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13 Nov 2019
6 min

Explainer 191: Why are Australia’s governing parties denying the obvious?: 

As catastrophic wildfires spread across New South Wales in “the most dangerous bushfire week Australia has ever seen”, Andrew Mueller asks why some of those in power are dismissing the views of climate experts.

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3059 Nov 2019
30 min

Tear Down This Wall: Tipping Points: 

In the first episode of a four-part series exploring the end of communism in Eastern Europe, we look at the fall of the Berlin Wall, 30 years ago this week, and ask when and where the cracks began. Andrew Mueller is joined by Artemy Kalinovsky, Serhii Plokhii and Cerstin Gammelin to discuss the Afghan–Soviet War, the Chernobyl disaster and the fall of the Wall itself.

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6 Nov 2019
5 min

Explainer 190: Will Ukraine-gate be the end of Trump?: 

Yet more testimonies have been released by those investigating Donald Trump’s phone call to Ukraine’s President Zelensky. Andrew Mueller asks if this might be the scandal that actually unseats the US leader.

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3042 Nov 2019
30 min

Do targeted killings really work?: 

The death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of Isis, will not have been upsetting to many. But it did serve as a reminder of how much warfare has changed this century. Who gets to decide who is captured and who is killed? What does targeted killing do for the reputations of those who employ the strategy? And does it really protect us from terrorists or is it just old-fashioned vengeance? Andrew Mueller is joined by Lew Lukens, Claire Finkelstein and Lina Khatib.

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30 Oct 2019
5 min

Explainer 189: Why are Ethiopia and Egypt fighting about water?: 

Just weeks after winning the Nobel Peace prize for his outreach to Eritrea, Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed warned Egypt that “no force” can stop Ethiopia from building a dam that had been planned for years. Andrew Mueller asks if this is really the rhetoric of a Nobel Peace laureate and why this dam across the River Nile warrants such sabre rattling.

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30326 Oct 2019
30 min

The threats to democracy: 

Special episode in association with the Nordic Council of Ministers. ‘The Foreign Desk’ has teamed up with the Nordic Council of Ministers for a series of five special episodes that delve deeper into topics of global importance from the region. This episode looks at the growing threats to democracy in this most democratic part of the world. Michael Booth finds out how grassroots democracy festivals are keeping Nordic politicians honest, how Google is tackling disinformation campaigns and what happened when one Finnish journalist took on the Russian trolls.

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23 Oct 2019
5 min

Explainer 188: What is different about Lebanon’s protests?: 

As people across the world are taking to the streets, Andrew Mueller explains why there’s optimism around protests in Lebanon, where demonstrators are calling for the government to resign over a tax on WhatsApp calls.

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30219 Oct 2019
30 min

The battle for Rojava: 

When US president Donald Trump withdrew US troops from Syria, he bewildered many among his own military, intelligence and foreign-policy establishments. But, most of all, his decision dismayed the Kurds of Northern Syria, long-serving allies to the US in the fight against Isis. As Turkish forces roll into the region known as Rojava, what, if anything, can the Kurds do to stop them?

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16 Oct 2019
6 min

Explainer 187: Who is Kais Saied?: 

Tunisia has just elected a new president and it’s only the second time it has ever done so. Kais Saied is a big favourite among Tunisia’s impatient youth – but can he meet their expectations?

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30112 Oct 2019
30 min

How lawless are the oceans?: 

In an ever more monitored world, escaping to the high seas might seem like a romantic idea. For some, however, being that far off the grid means being exploited, often while undertaking illicit activities. Who should be controlling what happens on the world’s oceans, and what’s being done to help those suffering at the hands of modern-day buccaneers, mercenaries and smugglers? Andrew Mueller is joined by journalist Ian Urbina, David Hammond from Human Rights at Sea and Alessio Patalano from King's College London.

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9 Oct 2019
6 min

Explainer 186: The Kurds: the latest betrayal: 

This week Donald Trump announced that he would not stop Turkish troops entering northern Syria, opening a path to the Kurdish people who live there. In doing so he allowed history to repeat itself: the Kurds are no strangers to being forgotten, ignored and openly betrayed by the international community. Andrew Mueller explores a shameful history.

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3005 Oct 2019
30 min

Ageing populations: 

Special episode in association with the Nordic Council of Ministers We’ve 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. In this episode, Michael Booth explains how the Nordic countries are attempting to see their ageing populations as an economic opportunity rather than a burden.

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2 Oct 2019
6 min

Explainer 185: Bobi Wine’s red beret: 

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, is no stranger to suppressing opposition – but his move to ban popstar-turned-opposition leader Bobi Wine from wearing his trademark red beret is one of his most inventive yet. Andrew Mueller wonders if it will be enough to calm the country’s restless youth, who are sick of authoritarian rule.

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29928 Sep 2019
30 min

The Gulf after oil: 

Arab Gulf states owe much of their geo-strategic importance to fossil fuels. But even the most oil-soaked petro-kingdom knows that the wells will cease gushing eventually. If the Gulf becomes a centre of renewable energy, what will that mean for the region’s politics? Andrew Mueller is joined by Mehran Kamrava, Jim Krane and Caline Malek.

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