Global Dispatches -- Conversations on Foreign Poli

Global Dispatches -- Conversations on Foreign Poli

United Kingdom

A podcast about foreign policy and world affairs. Every Monday we feature long form conversations with foreign policy journalists academics, luminaries and thought leaders who discuss the ideas, influences, and events that shaped their worldview from an early age. Every Thursday we post shorter interviews with journalists or think tank types about something topical and in the news.


Live from Chicago! Zalmay Khalilzad: former UN ambassador and GOP Foreign Policy Insider  

In many ways Ambassador Khalilzad was the ideal person with whom to speak at the dawn of the next republican administration. He served in senior positions in the Bush white house, including as ambassador to his native Afghanistan and Iraq and was also someone on the shortlist for Secretary of State as Donald Trump assembled his cabinet. We kick off discussing what to expect from Trump's foreign policy and how the new president will  approach  some of the myriad of challenges  around the world before pivoting to discuss his own fascinating personal story that took him from poverty in Afghanistan to the heights of power in Washington DC--stories I should note that are included in his recently published memoir: Then Envoy: From Kabul to the White House: My Journey through a Turbulent World"     To set the scene for you a little bit, this event was taped in the event room of 1871, a tech co-working space. There were about 200 people in the crowd, most of whom were members of IVY: The Social University which organized the event.    This episode is presented in partnership with IVY: The Social University. Through a robust curriculum spanning policy, entrepreneurship, social impact, and the arts — IVY members enjoy access to a lifetime of new experiences, friendships, and ideas. Whether it’s in-person talks with world-class leaders including Ambassador Cameron Munter, GE Chairman Jack Welch, and Pulitzer Prize Winner Nicholas Kristof; cultural expeditions to Cuba and Iceland; or tickets to the Opera or Ballet — IVY provides its members a lifetime of learning. Over the past three years, the IVY community has grown to 20,000 inspiring members in seven cities across the nation including New York, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Miami. Register on to begin the application process (2 minutes, no commitment) — and you’ll receive a $100 event credit if you join IVY and mention GlobalDispatches in the referral section when registering.

What's Next for the Israel and Palestine?  

The Two State Solution--the idea that a sovereign, secure and independent Palestine can co-exist with a sovereign secure and independent jewish state of Israel is arguably as far from being realized now than at anytime in the past twenty five years. With the election of Donald Trump, the unrelenting expansion of Israeli settlements and political incertitude in Palestine it appears we soon may be signing the requiem for the two state solution.  

But what comes next? Are we living in the post-two state solution era? What does this mean for Palestinian rights? For Israeli security? For Israeli and Palestinian foreign policy? I put these questions and more to Michael Omer-Man, the editor in chief of the excellent 972 magazine.  If you have 20 minutes and want to learn what the future holds for Israel and Palestine, have a listen. 
Episode 136: Karen Greenberg  

Karen Greenberg has spent the last 15 years studying the intersection of national security, terrorism and civil liberties. She's currently the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School.   She's authored several books on the subject including most recently Rogue Justice: the Making of the Security State. In 2009 she wrote the critically acclaimed Least Worst Place: Guantanamo's First 100 Days. We kick off discussing why was it that President Obama, having come to office eight years ago promising to shut down the Guantanamo prison, failed to do so.    Karen is someone who has been on my radar since the early Bush years and the debate over the Patriot Act, but I was fascinated and interested to learn how her career in foreign policy and national security was really launched while working with dissidents from Eastern Europe during the Soviet era. It's a great conversation. Animated for sure. And I think you'll like it.    Quick announcement before we start: if you are listening to this contemporaneously and are in Chicagoland come to a live recording of the podcast with special guest former US Ambassador to the UN Zalmay Khalilzad on January 19. Send me an email via the contact page on and I can get you a complimentary ticket! 

Sponsored: Get a Master of Arts in Social Innovation from San Diego University  

This is a special episode of the podcast sponsored by the Master of Arts in Social Innovation program at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. This is a brand new program that seeks original thinkers who are looking to make a lasting impact in the world to join the inaugural class. On the line with me to discuss the program, including the curriculum, the faculty and the kind of experience and education students can expect is the dean of the Kroc school, Patricia Marquez.  Applications are due March 15. Learn more!

Turkey is in Crisis  

Turkey is in crisis. A number of terrorist attacks in recent weeks has rattled Turkish society, there is a persistent and ongoing crackdown on civil society, and President Erdogan is engineering constitutional changes to further consolidate power. 

On the line with me to discuss recent events in Turkey and offer some deeper context into the political situation and the future of US-Turkey relations is Elmira Bayrasli. She is an author and the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted which seeks to amplify the voices of women in foreign policy debates and she was also my guest in episode 81.  I learned a great deal from this conversation and suspect you will as well.   Before we begin an announcement: On Thursday January 19th at 7pm I will be hosting a live taping of the podcast at the University of Chicago with former UN ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad. If you are in Chicago and want to attend in person please send me an email via the contact page on This is a ticketed event and the organizers have reserved tickets for my most loyal listeners so if you are interested, send me an email and I'll send you the registration info. 
Episode 135: Maria J Stephan  

Maria Stephan is a pioneering academic and public intellectual who studies authoritarian regimes and how they fall. She's the co-author with Erica Chenoweth of the groundbreaking and award winning book Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict which was a first-of-its kind study that offered empirical evidence that non-violent resistance is more effective than conflict and civil war in toppling oppressive regimes. She recently lead a study with the Atlantic Council showing that authoritarianism is on the rise globally and we kick off with an extended conversation about that study and how the recent US election fits into her overall thesis. 

Maria grew up in rural Vermont and we have a great conversation about the roots of her intellectual curiosity and how that took her to study and compare resistance movements around the world, including East Timor and Palestine.    
Here are the big stories that will drive the global agenda in 2017  

On the line with me to preview the big stories, ideas, trends and crises and provocations that will set the agenda at the United Nations and beyond is Richard Gowen. He's a fellow with the European Council on Foreign Affairs and a regular guest of this very podcast. We have a lively conversation about Trump's relationship with the UN, the new incoming secretary general and more.    We recorded this conversation in late December, before the big vote on Israel settlements into which the president elect weighed on twitter. So that vote does not factor into this conversation, but I would say that the big implication of that vote is that it's likely makes the UN more vulnerable to moves by the incoming congress to restrict or undermine US support for the UN, including the possible withholding of funding. If you want to read my full thoughts on that, check out UN Dispatch. For now though, here is Richard Gowen and I chatting about the big stories at the UN and around the world in 2017 

Episode 134: Tom Periello  

Tom Periello is President Obama's special envoy for the great Lakes Region of Africa. This includes the countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Now, this is usually the part of the intro in which I briefly tease my guests career. But in Tom's case he's had many different careers. He's served in the United States Congress for one term representing Virginia, he was a human rights lawyer for the war crimes tribunal for Sierra Leone and he was a co-founder of the global grassroots advocacy movement Avaaz among other things. And in this conversation Tom describes how and why he's alternated between pursing positive social change at home and abroad.    We kick off with a very topical conversation about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And just to set the scene a bit: on December 19th, the second and constitutionally mandated final term of the president Joseph Kabila expired. He did not leave office. There have been subsequent protests on the streets of the capitol Kinshasa and elsewhere that left at least 20 people dead. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church, which is a societal pillar,has been trying to mediate a less violent resolution to this conflict. Tom discusses his role in this effort what the United States is doing to ensure the democratic transition of power in the DRC.   We then pivot to a longer conversation about his fascinating life and careers.
What Russia Wants  

Russia has successfully influenced the election here in the United States in its favor. It's side is winning the war in Syria. Crimea looks like it will remain in Russia for the foreseeable future and the NATO alliance may become weakened when Donald Trump takes office. 

This is pretty much springtime for Putin in Moscow. But what are Russia's grander ambitions? Why did they hack the US election? What do they want from the Middle East? From Europe and China? I put these questions and more to James Goldgeier, a Russia expert and the Dean of the School of International Studies at American University. James describes some of Putin's near term and longer term strategic goals and how a less contentious relationship with the USA--one not based on values, but on individual transactions -- may reshape Russian foreign policy and international affairs more broadly.


Episode 137: Amy Costello  

Amy Costello is a veteran reporter who now hosts the excellent Tiny Spark podcast that investigates what goes right and what goes wrong in philanthropy, including global philanthropy and the NGO sector. At the very end of our conversation Amy reveals she started this podcast in part as a response to a story she reported that was wildly popular, but she later learned rested on a false premise. 

Amy was one of the first television reporters in Darfur during the midst of the genocide, a work for which she was Emmy nominated. She describes the kinds of scenes she saw and how that reporting project left a lasting impression upon her.We kick off in this holiday season discussing philanthropy and how individuals, perhaps you out there listening right now, can be an effective altruist by maximizing the impact of your charitable giving. 
Trump has Assembled a "Team of Generals." So What's the Problem?  

President Elect Donald Trump has assembled a team of generals to fill key posts in his national security team. Former Army General Mike Flynn is his National Security Advisor, Marine General John Kelly has been tapped to serve as homeland security chief and of course recently retired marine general ames Mattis has been nominated as Secretary of Defense.    Top military brass have served in civilian roles But never before have so many generals been tapped to serve at once and in top positions in the government. And this is out of the ordinary precisely because the American political system has historically shunned it for reasons that my guest Alice Hunt Friend describes.    Alice Friend studies civil military relations--she's currently writing her PhD thesis on the topic. She's a former official in the Pentagon and is currently both a Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies Adjunct Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security.    She offers what I find to be a very nuanced take on the kind of challenge or even threat to the American democratic system that is posed when the military takes on a greater role in civilian political life. She also discusses the kinds of policy implications that result from when generals are put in charge of civilian institutions. 

Episode 132: Cameron Munter  
Cameron Munter was the US Ambassador to Pakistan when US Special forces conducted the midnight raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. He watched the raid live and hours later was dealing with the diplomatic fallout.     Munter had a career in both academia and the diplomatic corps, serving in a wide variety of posts. He's now the president of the East West Institute. And this is arguably the first podcast ever in the history of the universe in which both Otto Von Bismark and Lou Reed are each discussed. 

We kick off with a brief discussion of the ways that Chinese domestic politics influence its foreign policy and what the future holds for US-Chinese relationship in the Trump era. And then of course, as we always do, we pivot to a longer conversation about his life and career with some fun digressions along the way. 

Conditions are ripe for a genocide in South Sudan  

There are some frightening warning signs that a genocide may erupt in South Sudan. The country has been at war with itself for the better of three years, ever since a political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his Vice Preisident Riek Machar turned into an armed conflict between those two men. The conflict took on ugly sectarian dimensions--these men hail from different ethnic groups--and peace has been elusive.    In recent weeks, however, it seems that the government of Salva Kiir is readying itself to commit ethnic-based mass atrocities for reasons that my guest Cameron Hudson explains. Cameron is the director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. He's also a former CIA officer with extensive background in the region. And in this episode, he explains what conditions are ripe for genocide in South Sudan are ripe. 

Episode 131: Mark Tokola  

Mark Tokola is the vice president of the Korea Economic Institute of America. He's a long serving American diplomat with postings around the world and we discuss a few of them in this episode, including his first posting to Turkey where his main job was helping Americans sent to prison on drug trafficking charges. He also compares his work in the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq after the fall of Saddam and I think makes an important point about the value of multilateralism to American interests. 

We spoke a day after the Security Council passed new a sanctions resolution on North Korea following a nuclear test in September and we kick off discussing the implications of those sanctions before pivoting to a longer conversation about his globe-spanning career. Mark's last posting was to South Korea and we end with some discussion about the political upheaval underway there and whether or not my man Ban Ki Moon may run for president next year.   Mark is an alumnus of the Salzburg Global Seminar which is a podcast sponsor this month and at the top of the episode we also reference a seminar about North Korean human rights in which he participated 


What Political Science Can Teach Us About Trump's Cabinet Picks  
Donald Trump's foreign policy and national security team is still taking shape. He has appointed Nikki Haley as his UN ambassador and Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor. But at the time of recording, he has not picked a Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense.    So how are you best able to interpret and understand the implications of those selections to American foreign policy? Thankfully, there is some is some emerging political science that speaks to the role of advisors in shaping national security policy, and on the line with me to discuss this research is Professor Elizabeth Saunders of George Washington University.    Saunders has conducted a number of studies that speak to the circumstances in which cabinet picks and top advisors can shape public opinion and decision making on key foreign policy issues. We discuss her research and its implications for the Trump transition in this episode. And after you listen to this episode, you should have a fairly decent grounding in how to interpret the significance of these picks, no matter who the end up being.


Better Know Nikki Haley, the next US Ambassador to the UN  

--- Support the podcast and join our premium subscribers club! ---   President elect Donald Trump will nominate Nikki Haley to be his Ambassador to the United Nations. She is a rising star in Republican politics and currently serves as the governor of South Carolina. She was sharp critic of Trump during the primaries, yet he has picked her to represent him at the United Nations.    On the line with me to discuss Nikki Haley, her political background, her personal story, and her place in South Carolina and national politics is Andy Shane the Colombia bureau chief of the Post and Courier newspaper in South Carolina. We have an in-depth conversation about the woman who will next lead the United States Mission to the UN and we discuss how some experiences she had as governor may suggest how she takes on her next role.    Trump's cabinet is still taking shape and it's notable that he would pick his UN Ambassador position before his Secretary of State, but I think we have come to expect the unexpected from this president elect. One other political wrinkle that we did not discuss, but is on the minds of people who follow national politics is that there may be a senate seat in South Carolina opening up in 2019, and if so, political watchers speculate that she may vie for that position. So the thinking goes, this could be a good platform for which to run for president in 2024. Now this is a long way off, but it's what the chattering class is chattering about.     

Episode 130: Tali Nates  

--- Support the podcast! Join the premium subscribers club! ---

Tali Nates has a personal connection to Schindler's List. On it was the name of her father and uncle, whom Oskar Schindler saved from a Nazi extermination camp. 

She is now the director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Center in South Africa and we have a fascinating conversation about how the lessons of the Holocaust are applied and learned in post-Apartheid South Africa.   Tali was born in Israel and moved to South Africa before the end of Apartheid. She candidly describes the moral compunction she experienced during that era and how teaching Holocaust history to white south africans became a method of resistance.    This episode is part of a series that is being created in partnership with the Salzburg Global Seminar, which is a forum and meeting space that brings together a cross section of global leaders to take on some of the big global challenges of the day. We kick off discussing her participation on one of the Salzburg sessions before turning to her own family history and contemporary work.


What Does President Trump Mean for the Paris Climate Agreement?  

--- Support the podcast and join our premium subscribers club! ---

As Americans headed to the polls on election day, diplomats from around the world headed to Marrakech, Morocco for the first big global climate summit since the Paris Agreement last year. This was to be an important inflection point in the global effort to combat climate change. Just a week earlier the Paris Agreement officially entered into force after the requisite number of countries ratified it and this meeting in Marrakech would to fill in some key details and add some technical guidance to enable the implementation of the agreement. 

And then, Donald Trump was elected.   During the campaign he pledged to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and defund UN programs to combat climate change. So I was interested to learn the implications of the election on the ongoing negotiations in Morocco and this episode is in two parts.   First, I speak with Eliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, who I caught up the day after the election just as he was headed to Morocco. Eliot discusses the ways domestic politics here in the USA may affect climate negotiations and also recounts the history of American leadership (or lack thereof) in international climate diplomacy.     Next, I speak with Hugh Sealy, a diplomat from Grenada who is a lead negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, known as AOSIS in UN speak. I caught up with Hugh in Marrakech about a week after the election, and as you'll see he does not report that much has changed. He does though, also discuss the importance of American leadership and also offers some interesting insights into the role that small countries like his can play in these big negotiations.    If you have not already done so, please check out the Patreon page I have created which is a way for you to support the show and also, if you are interested, take a deeper role in its production. Listeners who make a recurring monthly contribution through this platform can receive rewards for your support. So, for being a Global Dispatches premium subscriber you get a complimentary subscription to my DAWNS Digest global news clips service, sneak previews of upcoming episodes and the opportunity to have your questions posed to my guests, and also, if enough of you join the premium club I will launch a new podcast series, shaped by you, exclusively for. And stickers! Check it out. 
Episode 129: Maina Kiai  

--- Support the podcast and join our premium subscribers club! ---

Maina Kiai has some profound insights into how governments abrogate the rights of people to freely assemble. He is a Kenyan human rights lawyer and activist who currently serves as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. His career was born in opposition to an oppressive government in Kenya and he discusses the kinds of tactics and strategies he used to advance human rights under an authoritarian government.He also recounts his role in helping to mediate during the disputed 2007 Kenya elections, which turned very violent and resulted in his life being in danger.

We kick off discussing the impact of a Trump presidency on human and civic rights around the world and in the United States. 

This is a great conversation, which I did leave feeling inspired.   ---   I started a Patreon page! This is sort of like a KickStarter for internet content creators. If you make a recurring monthly contribution to the podcast I'll give you a complimentary subscription to my DAWNS Digest global news clips service; the chance to hear about upcoming shows and have your questions posed to my guests; access to a community forum; and if enough of you sign up, I will create a for-your-ears only podcast episode.  Learn more: 


A Personal Note -- My Pledge to You --  Build Community -- Earn Rewards  

--- Click here to go to the Patreon Page to earn rewards and support the show! --- 


I'll get straight to the point. These are uncertain times. They are confusing times. We are entering the Trump era of American foreign policy. What does that mean for the world? For the ideals we care about? For the entire liberal international world order? 

I don't know.

But I am going to make a pledge to you right now: I will dedicate this podcast to exploring and explaining the implications of President Trump to foreign policy, international relations and global affairs.

These are uncharted waters into which we are all about to set sail.  And in times like this community is more important than ever. I am going to open up Global Dispatches and offer you a chance to share your experiences, anxieties, hopes and ideas for what the future will hold. I'll give you expanded opportunities to interact with my guests, with me, and with each other. 

But I need help to make this work so here's my pitch: I need to spend more time putting together great shows, building community, and less time hustling to cover costs. That's where you come in. I've created this page to give you an easy way to support the podcast and earn awesome rewards in the process. Together, we can build this into a powerful community and keep the podcast going strong in these uncertain times. 

Patreon is a platform used by many podcasters and "content creators." It is a way for you, dear listener, to become a Patron of the show. Several listeners suggested I create one, so here goes. 

The Rewards 

Contributors at the $10/month level or above will receive:

1) A complimentary subscription to my DAWNS Digest global news clips service. Every morning you will receive in your inbox an easy-to-skim summary of the most interesting and relevant news and opinion from around the world. It's a news clips service that major global NGOs, think tanks and government agencies wake up to in the morning. And it can be yours!

2) Sneak previews of upcoming episodes and the chance to pose questions to my guests. I'll let you know ahead of time about the topics I'm covering and individuals I'm interviewing. If you have a specific question you'd like me to ask, I'll work it into my interview.  

3) Bonus episodes! If 100 of you to become sustaining members of the podcast, I'll create a regular series for your-ears-only. It will be a looser kind of show than Global Dispatches and focus on the consequence of Trumpism inside the UN and global institutions more broadly. It will also cover the big events, ideas, politics and other happenings around the UN that may be off the radar. It should appeal to a general global affairs audience and UN-insiders alike. This is a special bonus for sustaining members, so we can tailor this special programming to your requests.  

4) Access to a community platform. This will be a space where we can have discussions about world events, about our lives and careers, or reflect on previous episodes. It can serve as a safe, private outlet where you can share whatever is on your mind with your fellow listeners. 

5) Swag! I'll mail you a sticker. Who doesn't love stickers?  As more and more people sign up, the swag will get awesomer. (Tote Bags! Mugs! Flashdrives!) 


Why this? Why now? 

I've been writing on the Internets for 13 years --  as a blogger, twitter person and beyond. In all my projects over the years, I've never felt a deeper connection with my audience than through this podcast. There is an intimacy to this medium. I really cherish that. And based on the feedback I receive everyday, you do too.  

If the podcast is part of your daily routine, become a patron. It cannot keep going without your support.  Together we can turn this challenging election outcome into something positive--into an opportunity to learn and grow. 

Lots of Love,


PS If you have any questions or concerns, contact me. 

Video player is in betaClose