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Global Dispatches -- World News That Matters
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Global Dispatches -- World News That Matters

Author: Mark Leon Goldberg

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The longest running independent international affairs podcast features in-depth interviews with policymakers, journalists and experts around the world who discuss global news, international relations, global development and key trends driving world affairs.

Named by The Guardian as "a podcast to make you smarter," Global Dispatches is a podcast for people who crave a deeper understanding of international news.
886 Episodes
On September 19th, Azerbaijan launched a swift military offensive against ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, a long disputed region.  Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war over this territory following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which resulted in de-facto Armenian control over what is internationally recognized to be Azerbaijani territory. That status quo existed for nearly 30 years, until September 2020 when Azerbaijan launched a surprise military offensive routing ethnic Armenian forces. Russia brokered a ceasefire and installed Russian peacekeepers to enforce a truce. But Azerbaijan had the clear military advantage. Meanwhile Russia's invasion of Ukraine undermined its role in the region. So, Azerbaijan took the initiative and now a de-facto ethnic cleansing is underway as tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians flees their homes--and their homeland since the middle ages.  Joining me from Yerevan, Armenia to discuss this unfolding crisis is Olesya Vartanyan, Senior Analyst for the South Caucasus region at the International Crisis Group. 
Justin Trudeau dropped a bombshell before Parliament last week when he accused the government of India of assassinating a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil. Hardeep Singh Nijjar was a Sikh dissident living in British Columbia when he was gunned down by assailants outside his place of worship. Nijaar had long agitated for an independent Sikh state apparently putting him in the crosshairs of Narendra Modi’s government.  The idea that a democracy like India would carry out a hit on North American soil is a major development — and one that will complicate American foreign policy as well. Joining me to discuss this situation is Justin Ling, a Canadian journalist and author of the Bug Eyed and Shameless Substack. We kick off discussing what we know thus far about these accusations and then have a longer conversation about what this means for Canadian diplomacy and American foreign policy going forward. Get the newsletter  Listen on Spotify? Here's our premium feed
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, there was a brief moment when it seemed possible that this crisis might inspire European governments to turn away from fossil fuels. Russia was a huge supplier of natural gas to many European markets, and with those supplies suddenly cut off, there was an opportunity to replace Russian fossil fuel with clean energy.  That did not happen. In fact, just the opposite occurred. According to research by my guest today Jeff Colgan, European investments in clean energy fell precipitously following Russia's invasion of Ukraine as governments scrambled for fossil fuels. Jeff Colgan is the Richard Holbrooke Professor of Political Science at Brown University and co-author of a new report, "Letting Europe’s Energy Crisis Go to Waste: The Ukraine War’s Massive Fossil Fuel Costs Fail to Accelerate Renewables'  We kick off discussing the state of Europe's energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and then have an extended conversation about how and why Europe doubled down on Fossil fuels during the energy crisis that followed.  
Throughout this week there has been a notable lack of female leaders. By my count just seven of the 99 Presidents or Prime Ministers to address the General Assembly were women.  This is a recurring issue in every UN General Assembly I've covered since 2005. In our second segment today, I discuss the issue of women's political representation with Hibaaq Osman, founder and CEO of Karama a movement working in the Arab Region on ending violence against women and promoting women's political participation. For our first segment, I speak with Pete Ogden, Vice President for Climate and the Environment at the United Nations Foundation. The Climate Ambition Summit convened on Wednesday by Antonio Guterres was the centerpiece of climate diplomacy at UNGA this year. Pete Ogden explains what happened at that summit and how events at the UN and throughout New York this week are helping to shape the outcome of the next major moment in climate diplomacy, COP28, which kicks off in Dubai in late November. The Global Dispatches podcast is teaming up with the United Nations Foundation for a special daily series during the 78th United Nations General Assembly.  Get our newsletter  
Today is Wednesday, September 20th and it was a very busy day at the United Nations. Of all the days this week, today was arguably the most packed with high level consequential meetings. Throughout the day today was the Secretary General's Climate Ambition Summit. We will bring you full coverage of that in tomorrow's episode. Also today, the Security Council held a meeting on Ukraine, which featured Zelenskyy's first time addressing the Security Council in person since Russia's invasion. There were two key meetings on Global health, one on Pandemic Preparedness and Response, the other on Universal Health Coverage. I will be speaking with Kate Dodson Vice President for Global Health at the United Nations Foundation about those meetings as well as a key meeting on Tuberculosis later in the week during our second segment.  Our first segment features Vera Songwe, Chairwoman and Founder of the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility and Co-Chair of the High Level Panel on Climate Finance who discusses the crucial topic of Financing for Development.  The Global Dispatches podcast is teaming up with the United Nations Foundation for a special daily series during the 78th United Nations General Assembly.  Get our newsletter
Tuesday, September 19th marks the start of the United Nations General Assembly "General Debate." This is the parade of Presidents and Prime Ministers who address the world from the rostrum in the United Nations General Assembly hall. The day follows a familiar pattern each year: the Secretary General kicks off, followed by the new President of the General Assembly, who is Dennis Francis of Trinidad and Tobago. By tradition the President of Brazil is the first leader of a UN member state to speak, followed by the President of the United States. Joining me to discuss these speeches and more is Anjali Dayal, Associate Professor of International Politics at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center Campus and Maya Ungar of the International Crisis Group. We spoke just as Volodymyr Zelenskyy concluded his first in-person UNGA address since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. That is our first segment today. Our second segment features Butti Almheiri, UN Foundation Next Generation Fellow for Climate, who previews some of the climate focused themes this week. The Global Dispatches podcast is teaming up with the United Nations Foundation for a special daily series during the 78th United Nations General Assembly.  Get our newsletter
Monday, September 18 marks the kickoff to what is known around the United Nations as "High Level Week." The main event today was the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, which was intended to revive progress towards the SDGs following years of reversals during COVID. In the words of Antonio Guterres' opening remarks today, "the world needs an SDG rescue plan." Joining us on the second half of the show to discuss the SDG Summit is Navid Hanif, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).  To kick off and set the stage for all of High Level Week is Elizabeth Cousens, President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation. We discuss some of the key stories that will drive the diplomatic agenda during the 78th United Nations General Assembly and preview some of the major events and meetings happening throughout the week. This is your vital UNGA78 scene setter. Global Dispatches is teaming up with the United Nations Foundation for a special daily series during the 78th United Nations General Assembly. This is episode one of four.   
Interpol is the International Criminal Police Organzation. It was established 100 years ago to facilitate the cross border cooperation of national police agencies.  Interpol is an international organization with very high name recognition, but few people have a decent understanding of how it works.  As it happens, before I became a foreign policy journalist I did an internship at Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France. And it is there that I caught up with my guest today, Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock. He is a former German police officer who is entering his tenth and final year as the Secretary General. In our conversation we discuss some broad trends in the transnational organized crime that he has witnessed in his tenure, and how Interpol is evolving to meet those challenges. We discuss how Interpol manages geopolitical friction and rivalries among its 195 member states, to stay true to its original mission of facilitating international police cooperation.  Spotify users can get access to our bonus episodes and premium content through a Patreon Subsciption. Apple Podcasts can get this directly in the app.  Get our newsletter!       
PEPFAR is an acronym that stands for the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. It is the largest foreign aid program targeted at a specific disease, and it is widely considered to be one of the most successful US foreign aid programs ever.  George W Bush who started the program in 2003. It continued and expanded under President Obama and even thrived during the Trump years. But today its fate is uncertain. Funding for PEPFAR is provided by congress every five years, and typically this is a highly bi-partisan and wholly uncontroversial affair. It was due to be re-authorized this year -- but with the end of the fiscal year rapidly approaching, this legislation has not gone through.  At issue is domestic politics around abortion. Anti-abortion groups in the United States have falsely accused PEPFAR under the biden administration of somehow indirectly or secretly supporting abortion. This idea has infected Republican politics -- several Republican members of congress who once supported PEPFAR are now preventing a vote on its re-authorization, threatening to undermine what one of these very members of congress once called "The most successful foreign aid program since the Marshall plan." On the line to discuss PEPFAR's history of success and its uncertain future is Gayle Smith, CEO of the One Campaign and former head of the US Agency for International Development. 
Bill Richardson passed away on September 1st at the age of 75. He was a long serving member of Congress and Governor of New Mexico, former Secretary of Energy and US Ambassador to the United Nations. But his most lasting impact on international affairs was his freelance work as an international hostage negotiator. He would travel in his personal capacity to places like North Korea, Burma, and autocratic regimes around the world to help free people wrongfully detained abroad. He had a knack for negotiating with particularly nasty foreign leaders, earning him the moniker, "Undersecretary of Thugs." When we spoke in 2015, Richardson had recently published a book about his experiences negotiating with autocrats called "How to Sweet Talk a Shark." And in our conversation, Richardson recounts stories and lessons learned from his work as a freelance diplomat dedicated to the release of hostages and political prisoners. We kicked off discussing how his unique bi-cultural upbringing and early experiences as a politician in New Mexico helped him develop the kinds of skills he would later deploy in negotiations with people like Saddam Hussein.  I really appreciated this time with Bill Richardson. He was famously a very good talker, and this interview did not disappoint. The paywall on this episode is removed in remembrance of Bill Richardson.  Full archives available to premium subscribers via Apple Podcasts, Patreon (for Spotify Users) and   
On August 20th a former academic, diplomat and now anti-corruption crusader Bernardo Arevalo stunned the world with a landslide victory in Guatemala's presidential election. Arevalo won with over 60% of the vote, besting a former first lady who represented Guatemala's long dominant conservative -- and corrupt -- political establishment. This was a truly unexpected result. People who professionally observe Central American politics, including Ivan Briscoe, were taken by surprise.  Ivan Briscoe is Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Crisis Group. As he explains, Arevalo is genuinely committed to democracy and rooting out corruption -- and this is putting him at odds with the incumbent corrupt establishment. And despite the election results, the establishment is fighting back and taking measures to prevent Arevalo from wielding power in office and enacting meangful change. We kick off with a discussion of Arevelo's fascinating biography before having a longer conversation about the significance of his landslide victory.  Newsletter:  Patreon  Spotify Premium Feed
BRICS stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It is a significant grouping for the sheer size of the countries involved. BRICS account for 40% of the world's population and nearly one third of global GDP.  In late August BRICS held a much anticipated summit in Pretoria in which they agreed to add six more countries into the club: Argentina, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. You would be correct in thinking this is an odd grouping of countries, but as Ali Wyne explains, the attractiveness of joining BRICS outweighs the rivalries that some of these these countries might have with each other. And that, he says, captures the zeitgeist of geopolitics today. Ali Wyne is a senior analyst with Eurasia Group's Global Macro-Geopolitics practice, focusing on US-China relations and great-power competition.  Support the show on Patreon Premium Episodes on Apple Podcasts + Spotify  Get Our Newsletter: 
Peter Bergen is one of the world's foremost experts on global jihadist movements like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda. He is a journalist who has covered this beat for decades, including the first television interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1997.  Peter Bergen discusses where Qaeda and the Islamic State stand today, including how the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has impacted these global Jihadist movements. We also discuss why the Western Sahel region of Africa has become the geographical base of so many al Qaeda and Islamic State splinter groups. We discuss those questions and many more in detail, but kick off with a plug of Peter Bergen's new podcast, In the Room.  In The Room  Our newsletter:  Support our work on Patreon
Pangolins are small mammals with hard scales and vital to biodiversity in forested regions. They are also the most trafficked mammal in the world. Although they are a protected species in international law, transnational organized criminal groups profit from trafficking Pangolins This includes the Congo Basin in Central Africa. International organized criminal groups run poaching and trafficking networks in which most poached pangolins are exported to China and Southeast Asia, where they are a key ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pangolin meat is considered a high-end delicacy. According to my guest today Oluwole Ojewale these networks rake in millions and are a destabilizing force across several countries in the Central Africa. Oluwole Ojewale is the Regional Organized Crime Observatory Coordinator for Central Africa at the Institute for Security Studies. As he explains in our conversation Pangolin trafficking is part of a broader criminal network of illicit wildlife trafficking that funds armed groups, including terrorist groups active in the Central Africa.    
The number of migrants and refugees who are dying at sea while crossing the mediterranean is at a four year high.  Nearly 2,000 people are confirmed to have died in the medditeran thus far in 2023, although the real number is likely higher. In one tragedy alone, about 600 people drowned off the coast of Greece in June.   The most popular migrant route in recent months has been from Tunisia to Italy. That was where the MSF/Doctors Without Borders Rescue Ship the Geo Barents was patrolling in early August when it came acorss a crowded migrant boat that had been adrift for days. My guest today,  Margot Bernard of MSF, describes this rescue operation in detail. And through her account of this rescue, explains how policies of European countries are contributing to a surging number of deaths at sea.  Please support our unique brand of humanitarian journalism by getting a paid subscription on Apple Podcasts/supporting through Patreon/ or via Substack  
In 2003 a militia drawn from ethnic Arab tribes in Darfur, known as the Janjaweed, partnered with the government of Sudan in a genocidal campaign against non-Arab tribes in the region. An estimated 300,000 people were killed in the 2003-2004 Darfur genocide. In August 2023, there is mounting evidence of ethnic cleansing is again underway in Darfur, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is warning that there is risk of a full blown genocide.   As Cameron Hudson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies explains, what is happening in Darfur today is reminiscent of the Genocide 20 years ago. We kick off discussing the current campaign of ethnic cleansing underway in Darfur.  He then explains how the genocidal Janjaweed militia became the Rapid Support Forces, which are carrying out these atrocities while battling for control of the whole of Sudan in a full blown civil war that began in April. We discuss how the Rapid Support Forces funds its operations, and the support it is receiving from the United Arab Emirates. Global Dispatches will bear witness to the unfolding crisis in Darfur even as it is far from the headlines of most western outlets. We will offer original reporting, and give you the analysis and context you need to understand this crisis as it unfolds through a series we are calling Darfur Genocide Watch. To access this series and support our work, become a paid subscriber in Apple Podcasts, via Patreon or via Substack  
For the last eight years a decrepit old oil tanker off the coast of Yemen has been like a ticking time bomb, threatening to unleash unprecedented disaster in the Red Sea. The 47 year old oil tanker, the FSO Safer, was fraying and decaying -- and filled with one million barrels of oil. For reference, this is about four times the amount that the Exonn Valdez spilled in 1989. The UN estimated that a spill from the SFO Safer would cause an ecological, environmental and humanitarian disaster across the Red Sea region, destroying pristine reefs, and imperling costal fishing communities in Yemen, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and beyond. It would take 25 years for fish stocks to replenish. The cleanup alone would cost $20 billion. But today's episode is about how that disaster was averted. On Friday, August 11th the United Nations announced that the FSO Safer's 1 million barrels of oil had been offloaded. This was the culmination of a massive political, diplomatic and logistical undertaking and my guest is the person who was at the center of it all, the UN's top official in Yemen David Gressly.  David Gressly is an Assistant UN Secretary General, with whom I spoke from Aden just hours after the last oil had been pumped out of the FSO Safer. We kick off discussing the circumstances in which the oil became trapped in the old vessel, which is very much part of the story of Yemen's civil war. But this is a good news story of a crisis averted. 
Haiti is in the midst of the worst humanitarian and security crisis in years. Gang related violence is surging - and the Haitian National Police are overwhelmed and incapable of restoring order.  According to some estimates gangs now control about 80 percent of Port-au-Prince. This rampant insecurity is driving a humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes. About half the country is experiencing food insecurity.  Amid surging violence and insecurity, Prime Minister Ariel Henry appealed to the international community to send help and asked the United Nations Security Council to support a foreign military or police intervention in Haiti. For a long time, no county was willing to step up and volunteer to lead an intervention in Haiti -- that was until Kenya said that it was willing to lead a UN-backed multinational intervention in Haiti. But is this even a good idea? Joining me to discuss that question and many more is Renata Segura, Deputy Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the International Crisis Group. We kick off discussing the gang violence and security challenges in Haiti before having a long conversation about the international dynamics driving a potential Kenya-lead intervention in Haiti.    Listening on Spotify? Go here to find our bonus episodes and premium content. 
On July 26th, the democratically elected president of Niger Mohamed Bazoum was deposed in a military coup. This coup seemingly came out of nowhere. Now, a country that had been a key US ally and a French ally in the region is suddenly in turmoil. There is also a good deal of concern that the new Nigerienne junta may turn to Moscow for support, just like the coup leaders in Mali and Burkina Faso.  Joining me to discuss the coup in Niger and what comes next is Leonardo Villalón, professor of African Politics at the The University of Florida. We kick off discussing the possible motivations of the coup leaders and then have a long conversation about the domestic, regional and geopolitical implications of this coup.  
The Wagner group was a key fighting force in Ukraine until its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin,  attempted a mutiny. 20 years before Wagner was tapped to fight in Ukraine, the United States turned to the private security firm, Blackwater, during its occupation of Iraq. Like Wagner, Blackwater was a for-profit entity that was fighting alongside one of the most powerful militaries in the world. And also like Wagner, Blackwater was credibly accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. So why is it that countries turn to private groups like this during wartime? I put that question to Dr. Benjamin Tkach, associate professior of political science at Mississippi State University. He is a researcher who studies security privatization, including private military contractors and mercenaries. We kick off briefly defining our terms: what do we mean by "mercenary" and "private security and military company?" We then have a long discussion about the corporate structure of the Wagner Group and its deployment in Africa and Ukraine. Benjamin Tkach compares Wagner today to Blackwater 20 years ago to help answer the question of why powerful countries turn to private groups in times of war. Get our newsletter!   
Comments (4)

M. Aghaii

Negar mortazavi is an Islamic republic apologist. women in Iran are being killed and this is the journalist you select to talk with, someone who has tried to whitewash regimes atrocities for decades, along with her NIAC friends. unfollowed. God knows how many more liars you have invited to your podcast and how much more lies you have spread. shame on you.

Jan 17th

Maryam Gamal

Hello, Thank you for this program. I always gain new perspectives when listening to your podcasts. As the GERD is a politically-tense topic for countries involved, specially Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, representatives from each company tend to have bias (generally-speaking). I recommend having a similar interview with an Egyptian and a Sudanese expert to gather all perspectives. Thanks, Maryam (from Egypt)

Jul 7th

Piyush Tripathi

extremely biased and one sided opinions presented in this episode. not sure if this is topical for this podcast

Dec 23rd

Michael Klas

broken source episode can't play?!

Dec 12th
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