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.


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  

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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?  

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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  

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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. 

American Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump  

Donald Trump will become president and commander-in-chief in January. I am pledging to you right now that I will dedicate myself and dedicate this podcast to helping you make sense of foreign policy and world affairs in the era of Trump.  

To that end, I caught up with Heather Hurlburt of the New America Foundation. Heather and I have a pretty wide ranging discussion about the implications of a Trump presidency for American alliances, for Syria, for the Iran nuclear deal and for the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.   We kick off discussing the kinds of personnel choices that President Elect Trump must take in the coming weeks which will be a very early sign of what kind of foreign policy president he will be.     
How the UN is Fighting Hunger in Somalia  

How the international community saves lives in conflict prone countries or insecure places is becoming increasingly relevant and important to global affairs. On the line to walk me through the nuts and bolts of one of these relief operations is Laurent Bukera, who runs the World Food Program's operations in Somalia. 

We have a pretty fascinating conversation about how a humanitarian agency like the World Food Program operates in profoundly difficult environments beset by insecurity and terrorism. 

Laurent walks me through some of WFP's operations in Somalia--that is how they deliver aid and some of the challenges of working in that country. And these challenges includes not only threats from terror groups like Al Shebaab, but more broadly extremely low levels of infrastructure development. To deal with some of these obstacles the WFP is rolling out some new technological innovations, which we discuss toward the end of this episode. 
Why Hot Sauce Can Explain the US Election  

Here we are days from the US election, so I thought to myself let's have a US focused episode that explains US culture and American politics and why Trump is facing such an uphill battle by talking sauce. 

Now, it's been widely reported--and I'm being completely serious here--that this is Hillary Clinton's favorite condiment. And full disclosure: I too love everything spicy. But it is also true that more Americans like spicy food than at any time in the history of this country.   On the line with me to discuss the political and cultural implications of Americans' growing appetite for spicy cuisine is Denver Nicks, author of the new book: Hot Sauce Nation: America's Burning Obsession. We discuss how spicy peppers became integrated into the mainstream of the American cuisine largely through public policy decisions that be traced to a profoundly important date in 20th century American history. The results on election day may be one more indication that spicy peppers and American elections are far more intertwined than we may think. 


Episode 128: Brian Katulis  

Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress where his work focuses on US National Security and Foreign Policy. 

He's had a long career working and living in several middle eastern countries at key junctures in their history, including Jordan, Israel, Palestine and Egypt and we discuss many of these experiences in this conversation. We kick off discussing a new report he helped write about some of the key challenges facing the next administration as it navigates an ever evolving political and security landscape in the Middle East. 


The Battle for Mosul  

 Mosul is Iraq's second largest city, and in 2014 ISIS militants took the city as Iraqi army units fled. Now, a large scale military operation backed by the United States is underway to regain control of the city, which is situated in Northern Iraq. 

The fight to re-take Mosul may have profound domestic and regional political implications says my guest today Kirk Sowell, publisher of the Inside Iraqi Politics newsletter,  He argues in a recent piece published by the Carnegie Endowment that the operation to retake mosul is part of a broader power struggle between Turkey and Iraq. The conversation you are about to hear explains the political and diplomatic context in which this battle is taking place.    If you believe, as Clausewitz said, that "war is the continuation of politics by other means" than it behooves all of us to understanding better the kind of regional, sectarian and even parliamentary politics at play in the battle for Mosul.   
Is this the end of the International Criminal Court?  

Late in the evening on October 20th news broke that South Africa is moving to withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

The ICC is the first permanent international court to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity and back in 2002 when it came to life, South Africa was a founding member.

In recent years the court has come under criticism by some African governments for holding a perceived bias against Africa, but until now no major country has withdrawn from the court after joining it. There is a fear that South Africa's withdrawal will spark an cascade of countries doing the same thing. If South Africa's withdrawal leads to a mass exodus, the ICC's jurisdiction around the world could be significantly shrunk. Maybe even fatally.   On the line with me to discuss these questions and more is David Bosco, associate professor of international studies at Indiana University's School of Global and International Studies. He is also author of the book Rough Justice: The International Criminal Court in a World of Power Politics and someone I have looked to over the years to help me understand the ICC's role in international relations. 
Episode 127: Sarah Chayes  

Sarah Chayes was a reporter for NPR working in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban. Then, in early 2002 she decided to give up her career in journalism to help rebuild the country. She joined the NGO world, eventually founding an Afghan based NGO. And during this time, while living in the former Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, she became an advisor to the top US generals in Afghanistan. 

These experiences in Afghanistan informed her prize winning book, Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security, which as the name suggests examines the corrosive effect of corruption in post conflict countries and beyond.    We kick off talking about the problem of corruption before discussing Sarah's fascinating life and career.     
Meet Antonio Guterres, the Next UN Secretary General  

Last week the UN General Assembly Officially elected Antonio Guterres as the next UN Secretary General. Guterres is a well known figure around the UN and in global politics more broadly. From 2005 to 2015 he served as the UN High Commissioner for refugees and before that he served as Prime Minister of Portugal. 

His term begins on January 1st and I thought it would be useful and interesting to learn more about Guterres from two distinct perspectives.   This episode is in two parts. First, I speak with the Portuguese political commentator Pedro adao e Silva who discusses Guterres' political career in Portugal and more broadly the political context in which Guterres emerged as a national leader and political figure. We discuss some of the key moments of his term as Prime Minister and how his background and experience in the Portuguese revolution against a authoritarian regime may shape his performance as Secretary General.   Next, I speak with Michel Gabaudan, who is the president of the advocacy organization Refugees International. Gabaudan was a senior official at the UN Refugee Agency for many years and served in top positions while Guterres was in charge of it. He offers some perspective on Guterres' leadership style of a complex UN agency and shares some insights into his skill sets and how he interacts with powerful member states like the USA.     I was so glad to get both perspectives. Guterres is someone who I've followed closely as the UN Refugee Chief. I've seen him speak on numerous occasions, and both Pedro and Michel do a good job helping me understand how someone who has been so outspoken, in the words of Michel "speaks truth to power" could still win the favor of the world's most powerful country.
Beware the Global Superbug  
At the United Nations last month there was a major meeting at the sidelines of the General Assembly about an issue called anti-microbial resistance. This meeting did not make much news outside the UN bubble, but it was arguably the single most meaningful thing to happen at the United Nations in months.    Anti-microbial resistance is one of the worst global health crises in the world that gets the least amount of attention. The short story is that the antibiotics we use to treat common infections are becoming less and less effective. There are many reasons for this, including the overuse of antibiotics in livestock and the over-prescription of these drugs for humans. The implications of ever-increasing anti-biotic resistance is exceedingly profound for both the health and wealth of our entire planet. The foundation of modern medicine is in peril.    On the line with me to discuss the problem of antibiotic resistance, its origins, and what the international community is doing to confront it is Elizabeth Tayler. She is with the World Health Organization and is one of the few people on the planet working day in and out to reverse this trend. Tayler does an excellent job of describing the root causes of anti-microbial resistance, its implications for modern medicine and what the global plan is to confront it.


Episode 126: Charles Kenney  

Charles Kenney is an optimist. He's the author of several book about global development, including Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding--And How We Can Improve the World Even More, which was widely hailed across the spectrum and personally endorsed by Bill Gates. 

Charles is a fellow with Center for Global Development where his work focuses on a wide array of topics, including the intersection of gender and development and we kick off with a discussion of some new research he's worked on about strategies to reduce the prevalence of female genital mutilation--otherwise known as FGM. (If you are not aware, FGM is the deliberate cutting of female genitalia, often as part of a traditional ceremony in a girl's adolescence. And Charles has researched policies in countries that helped to sharply reduce the number of girls subjected to this practice.) 

  Charles was born in the United Kingdom to a British father and American mother. He traces the roots of his optimism to his charmed upbringing in academic communities around Oxford and Cambridge. He had a long career at the World Bank before settling into his perch at the Center for Global Development, from which he has written a couple of books--both of which we discuss.    This is a great conversation--and we do have an interesting discussion about the problem of measuring country's well being exclusively by looking at its economic growth.   


Why the Colombia Peace Deal Failed and What's Next  

The 52 year civil war in Colombia between the government and the Marxist rebel group the FARC is the longest running conflict in the Western Hemisphere. But after years of painstaking negotiations, the conflict looked as if it is finally coming to an end. There is ceasefire, and a peace deal was signed in September between FARC's leader and the president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos.    The government promised to put the peace deal to a final vote among the people of Colombia in a popular referendum, and low and behold, when the vote was taken in early October voters rejected the deal.      On the line with me to discuss the referendum results, the peace deal, and the implications of this failure to formally end this civil war is James Bargent, a freelance journalist based in Colombia. I caught up with James while he was in Medellin just days after the vote and he does an excellent job of describing the political climate that lead to this result, and games out scenarios for what happens next in this now quite tenuous peace process. A resumption of conflict is not out of the realm of possibility. 

Episode 125: Scott Shane  

 cott Shane is a veteran reporter with the New York Times.His latest book is titled Objective Troy: A Terrorist, a President and the Rise of the Drone. It tells the story of Anwar al-Awlaki and President Obama's decision to kill him.

al-Awlaki was an American born man of Yemeni descent. He was a charismatic preacher who later moved to Yemen and joined an al Qaeda affiliate. In 2011 he was killed by a US drone strike, making him the fist American since the civil war to be deliberately assassinated by his own government. 

Scott Shane's book is a masterpiece that won the 2016 Lionel Gerber prize for best international affairs book. It's now out in paper back. And unlike most episodes where we spend the first 10 or fifteen minutes speaking about an author's new book before exploring their own life story, Scott and I spend the bulk of our conversation telling the remarkable and gripping story of al-Awlaki before talking about Scott's own career. 
The Heroes of Syria  

When a building is bombed, a group of volunteers known as the White Helmets rush to the scene to dig through rubble to find survivors. In a conflict known for its never-ending descent into depravity, this one group stands apart as true servants of humanity.    On the line to discuss their work is Orlando von Einsiedel, who directed the new Netflix documentary "The White Helmets." The film follows members of the Aleppo contingent of the Syrian Civil Defense Corps as they go on rescue and training missions.   The White Helmets are unarmed and apolitical. But as Russia and Syrian forces have intensified the battle for eastern Aleppo, the White Helmets have increasingly been a target themselves. In the last week alone, four of their bases in Aleppo have been targeted and they are often the victims of a bombing strategy known as "double tap" in which a second bomb is unleashed on a civilian target just as rescue workers are arriving on the scene.    In this conversation, director Orlando von Einsiedel -- whose credits include the documentaries Virunga and Skateistan -- describes the work of the White Helmets and his decision to make them the subject of his newest film.  

Episode 124: Sarah Sewall, Live!  

I was in New York for the UN General Assembly and so was Under Secretary of State for civilian security, democracy and human rights Sarah Sewall. We taped this episode in front of a live audience organized by New York chapter of the group Young Professionals in Foreign Policy, YPFP.

Sarah Sewall kicks off telling some behind the scenes stories from her week at the UN and describing what it's like being a top US diplomat during the busiest week on the diplomatic calendar. We then discuss some of the substantive issues she is working on relating to countering violent extreemism and terrorism through diplomacy and development. She also recounts her ground breaking career path that lead her from her home in Maine to the highest reaches of foreign policy making. And finally, we take some questions from the audience.   This was taped live at the SLC Conference Center in mid-town Manhattan.   


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