Global Dispatches -- World News That Matters
Global Dispatches -- World News That Matters
About Global Dispatches -- World News That Matters
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.
It was twenty years ago this month that the George W Bush administration began its ill-fated invasion and occupation of Iraq. The ostensible justification for this war of choice was that the Iraqi regime had weapons of mass destruction that it might someday use against the United States. This premise proved to be false and today the Iraq war is widely regarded to have been a massive strategic blunder. It resulted in the deaths of over 4,000 American service members and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. I'm joined today by journalist Spencer Ackerman. In our conversation we ask the question, now with 20 years of hindsight, "why did the US launch this war?" We also discuss the many lasting legacies of this decision on US foreign policy and international relations today? Spencer Ackerman is a foreign policy columnist for The Nation the writes the newsletter Forever Wars. He is the author of Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump, now out in paperback.
Other than Ukraine itself, no country has been more deeply impacted by Russia's invasion than Moldova. Moldova has absorbed more Ukrainian refugees per capita than any other country in the world and Moldova is uniquely dependent on Russian gas and electricity. Inflation is running at 30%. Moldova is governed by a stridently pro-European ruling party, and in recent weeks Russia has ramped up efforts to destabilize the country through protests and disinformation campaigns Joining me from Moldova's capital is journalist Paula Erizanu. We kick off discussing destabilization efforts by the Kremlin, before having a wider discussion of the ways in which Moldova has been impacted by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Rob Bailis is a senior scientist for the Stockholm Environment Institute. He is a leading researcher on the intersection between energy use, health and the environment in the developing world. This includes the use of household cooking appliances -- cookstoves -- and the impact of the kind of fuel used in cookstoves on human health and the environment. Rob Balis contributed to new research, supported by the Clean Cooking Alliance that demonstrated how a transition away from burning biomass in cookstoves to using stoves powered by liquified petroleum gas or electricity would have a positive impact on combating climate change and sharply deaths and illnesses associated with dirty burning fuels. We kick off discussing the health and climate impacts of dirty burning household cooking appliances before having a longer discussion about his research on the counter-intuitively positive impact that fossil fuels could have in supporting an energy transition around household cooking in the developing world.
The annual Commission on the Status of Women CSW is the second largest diplomatic gathering at the United Nations each year, after the General Assembly in September. Thousands of delegates from hundreds of countries come to UN headquarters in New York in what is the major moment on the diplomatic calendar centered on the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. Joining me to preview what will drive the agenda at the 67th Commission on the Status of Women is Michelle Milford Morse Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy at the United Nations Foundation.
On March 1st Bola Tinubu was declared the winner of Nigeria's sharply contested presidential election. In a three way race, Tinubu received 37% of the votes, enough to win him the presidency. Bola Tinubu is from the same party as outgoing president Mohammadu Buhari. The election results are being challenged in court by his rivals. But if the results stand, he will be inaugurated in May. Joining me to discuss the results of this election, and the key challenges ahead for the incoming Nigerian government is Amaka Anku, head of the Africa Practice at the Eurasia Group.
Before joining the United States House of Representatives in 2021, Congresswoman Sara Jacobs worked at the United Nations and US State Department. As she explains, this experience gave her unique insights into the valuable role the United States can play at the UN and the value the UN brings to US foreign policy. Congresswoman Sara Jacobs is a Democrat from southern California who serves on House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she is the top democrat on the Subcommittee on Africa and on the House Armed Services Committee. She is the youngest member of the Democratic party's Congressional leadership team.
On February 23rd, President Biden nominated former MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga to serve as the next World Bank president. His nomination came as a surprise to many in the international development community, including my guest today Amanda Glassman. Amanda Glassman is executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. We kick off discussing the circumstances around the early departure of current World Bank president David Malpass. We then discuss the biography of Ajay Banga, and why he is something of an unconventional pick for World Bank president. We then have a longer conversation about the key challenges ahead for the World Bank this year, including why this may be a make or break year for the World Bank.
To mark the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Global Dispatches has teamed up with the podcast Inside Geneva to bring you a live recording in which host Imogen Foulkes is joined by conflict resolution experts to discuss the prospects for peace – and how it can be won. “The fact that we’re talking about the possibility of using nuclear weapons, the fact that we’re talking about the possibility of the United States and China going to war over Taiwan; it’s frightening,” says Katia Papagianni, director of Policy and Mediation Support at the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue. “There is a concept that has been floating around in academia for many years called a hurting stalemate, when the two parties decide that enough is enough. And we are clearly not at this hurting stalemate,” says Keith Krause, director of the Centre on Conflict, Development, and Peacebuilding at the Graduate Institute Geneva (IHEID). What does a lasting peace look like? “Peace is beyond the absence of violence. It’s really about access to justice, economic opportunities, security, and pluralism,” says Hiba Qasas, executive director of the Principles for Peace Initiative. “Sustainable peace needs to include the youth, it needs to inform the youth, and it needs to educate the youth; so inclusion, information, and education,” says Shefali Kaur Nandhra, a graduate student in sustainable development at IHEID. Are there good examples from the past? “There are, of course, some success stories. I think the Colombian process, we have a lot to learn from that, and not just because it was locally driven,” says Krause. “As someone who grew up in conflict, my concern is not only about the battlefield, but also about all the insidious impacts that come after the guns have been silenced,” says Qasas. Once you listen to this episode, please be sure to subscribe to Inside Geneva wherever you find podcasts. Inside Geneva is produced by SwissInfo, a public service media company based in Bern, Switzerland.
In April 2019, Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir was ousted in a coup after nearly 30 years in power. The coup followed months of mass civilian protests against his regime. The transition from dictatorship to democracy has been extremely rocky, but in December 2022 civilian and military leaders entered into an agreement under heavy international pressure. Guest Hala al-Karib, is a Sudanese activist, research practitioner and director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa. We kick off discussing who negotiated that December 5 agreement and its key provisions before discussing the many layers of challenges to a successful democratic transition in Sudan.
Humanity is tantalizingly close to killing off the last Guinea Worm. This is a water born parasite that when ingested grows and grows until it painfully exits the body through a lesion in the skin. There is no treatment for it. There is no cure for it. But it can be prevented. And if prevented everywhere, Guinea Worm Disease will be eradicated. We are now on the cusp of that moment. In 2022, there were just 13 confirmed human cases of Guinea Worm Disease around the world. This is down from three and a half million cases in the early 1980s. At the center of the global campaign to eradicate guinea worm disease is the Carter Center. And joining me from Mali is Adam Joseph Weiss, director of the Guinea Worm Eradication Program at the Carter Center.
Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian enclave within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan. In the early 1990s Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a bloody war resulting in Armenia's de-facto control of Nagorno-Karabakh. For most of the last 30 years this was a frozen conflict with occasional flareups only fitful progress towards a diplomatic and political resolution. Then, in September 2020 Azerbaijan launched an offensive resulting in the rout of the Armenian army and the capture of large swaths of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shaken up a ceasefire agreement and over the course of 2022, Azerbaijan has expanded its control of key strategic territories in the region. According to my guest today Olesya Vartanyan there is a high risk that Azerbaijan may press its military advantage and resume a full scale conflict in the region. Olesya Vartanyan is the International Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for the South Caucasus region. We kick off discussing a worsening humanitarian crisis in parts of Nagorno Karabakh, sparked by a blockade of a key corridor linking Armenia to key parts of Nagorno-Karabakh. We then discuss the trends in the conflict and diplomacy, including a hopeful move by the European Union to approve a civilian monitoring mission.
The Dadaab Refugee Complex in Kenya hosts about 310,000 refugees, most of whom are Somalis who have fled conflict and drought. Dadaab has been around for about 30 years. And over the decades, it has periodically experienced sharp influxes of people. We are in the midst of one of those moments. In 2022, 51,000 people arrived and it is projected that in 2023 90,000 people will make their way from Somalia to Dadaab. This ballooning population is straining humanitarian agencies' ability to provide basic services to populations in need. My guest today, Hassan Maiyaki is the country director for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Kenya. He describes a worsening humanitarian situation there, measured in part by a sharp rise in acute child malnutrition. We discuss why the situation is seemingly getting worse and what can be done to help provide for the basic needs of a rapidly expanding refugee population.
We are in the midst of an escalating cycle of violence in Israel and Palestine. On Thursday, January 26 Israeli forces killed at least 9 people in a raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. The following evening, a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside a Synagogue in East Jerusalem. More violence followed over the weekend. I caught up with journalist Dalia Hatuqa who has reported from Israel and Palestine for many years. We kick off discussing some of the broader context from which this escalatory cycle of violence has emerged. This includes a ten month old series of stepped up raids by Israel into the West Bank and Gaza. We also discuss why this current violence may or may not lead a to a so-called Third Intifada, and the link between Israel's new far rightwing government and the apparently devolving crisis.
My guest Reed Brody is a veteran war crimes prosecutor and author of the new book "To Catch a Dictator: The Pursuit and Trial of Hissene Habre." Hissene Habre was the brutal dictator of Chad from 1982 to 1990, when he was ousted in a coup and fled to Senegal. The book tells the story of Reed Brody's years long obsession to bring Habre to justice, and his partnerships with African lawyers and victims rights advocates who secured a conviction. We kick off discussing the abuses of Hissene Habre and the successful legal strategy that resulted in a life sentence. We then take a step back and discuss the lessons learned from this successful trial that might be applied to other abusive leaders elsewhere.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, 2022 there have been numerous examples of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Russian soldiers. Many of these crimes are being investigated and prosecuted by local Ukrainian courts and the International Criminal Court. But the crime of launching this illegal war in the first place is not, as of yet, under any court's jurisdiction. Oona Hathaway is seeking to change that. She is a professor at Yale Law School who has been advocating for the creation of a UN-backed special tribunal to prosecute the crime of aggression committed by Russian leaders in Ukraine. In recent weeks and month, this proposal is gaining some traction. We kick off discussing and defining what we mean by the "crime of aggression" before the discussing the politics of creating a special internationally backed mechanism to prosecute specific Russian leaders, including Vladimir Putin, for the crime of aggression.
Peru is in the midst of the worst political violence experienced in the country in decades. Protests began in December following the ouster of former President Pedro Castillo. He was impeached and arrested following his effort dissolve congress in a brazen attempt to stay in power through a self-coup. Castillo's supporters have staged large protests which were violently suppressed by security forces, resulting in dozens of deaths so far. I spoke with reporter Simeon Tegel just as protesters were moving en masse from rural parts of the country to the capital city, Lima. Simeon Tegel is a freelance journalist and contributor to the Washington Post. We kick off discussing the scene in Lima before having a longer conversation about the causes and consequences of this mounting political crisis in Peru.
On February 25th, Nigeria will hold federal elections. Nigeria is the largest democracy in Africa and one of the largest multiparty democracies in the world. Incumbent Muhammadu Buhari is respecting term limits and stepping aside, leaving and open field. In recent history, Nigerian politics has been dominated by two parties. But with about one month before elections there is a surprising third party candidate, Peter Obi, who is leading in the polls on a surge of support by young Nigerians. Guest Cynthia Mbamalu is director of programs for Yiaga Africa, a civil society organization that works to promote democracy in Africa. She explains how and why young people in Nigeria may determine the outcome of Nigeria's elections. We kick off discussing the major candidates before having an in depth conversation about the youth vote, including how a protest movement against police brutality has inspired a youth political awakening.
Agathe Demarais was a treasury official in the French government working in Moscow and Beirut when she saw, first hand, some of the unintended impacts of US sanctions. Agathe Demarais is the global forecasting director of the Economist Intelligence Unit and author of the new book Backfire: How Sanctions Reshape the World Against US Interests. The book makes the provocative argument that an over-reliance on sanctions as a tool US foreign policy is making sanctions a less effective tool of US foreign policy. In our conversation, Agathe Demarais explains how US sanctions are sort of like antibiotics in which overuse can cause resistance.
According to the International Monetary Fund, 22 countries in Africa are either in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress --that is, they are unable to fulfill their financial obligations to creditors. This is nearly double the number of countries in Africa in some form debt crisis just a few years ago. Why so many African countries are facing a fiscal crisis today and the implications of debt distress for economic and social development is explained at length by my guest today Mark Plant, senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development. We kick off discussing why Ghana and Zambia are illustrative of broader fiscal trends in Africa and then have a discussion about the policy conundrums facing countries as they navigate fiscal crises and seek to satisfy creditors without sacrificing substantial gains in economic and social development.
In December protests erupted in cities across Bangladesh, including the capital Dhaka. The proximate cause was skyrocketing inflation triggered in part by Russia's war in Ukraine. But as my guest Michael Kugelman explains these were not mass protests, but rather highly partisan events ahead of elections scheduled for this year. Michael Kugelman is director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington DC. We kick off discussing the significance of these protests. We then have a longer conversation about how these protests fits into broader trends in Bangladeshi politics and economy -- including Bangladesh's remarkable economic growth and its increasing authoritarianism under prime minister Sheikh Hasina.
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