Global Dispatches -- Conversations On Foreign Policy And World Affairs


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.


  • COVID-19 is Interrupting Routine Childhood Vaccinations on a Global Scale

    COVID-19 is Interrupting Routine Childhood Vaccinations on a Global Scale

    25/05/2020 Duración: 29min

    Barbara Saitta is a nurse with Doctors without Borders who specializes in vaccination campaigns, primarily in poorer countries. She tells me that because of supply chain interruptions, a number of countries are running out of routine childhood vaccines. This includes vaccines for measles, polio, and the all-important pentavalent vaccine that protects against five common diseases. What is so alarming about the interruption of routine childhood vaccines is that there is a direct correlation between mass immunization and avoiding mass death. We kick off with a discussion of how vaccine campaigns generally operate in a developing country with poor infrastructure, before having a broader conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on routine childhood immunizations. 

  • How Female Entrepreneurs Can Light Up Rural Rwanda

    How Female Entrepreneurs Can Light Up Rural Rwanda

    21/05/2020 Duración: 27min

    Just over 52% of households in Rwanda have access to some form of electricity. This access is not evenly distributed across Rwanda. In rural communities, where most Rwandans live, energy access rates are far lower. Furthermore, the country's geography severely limits the reach of Rwanda's electric grids. This means Rwandans are increasingly turning to off-grid energy solutions, namely solar power.  My guest today, Rebecca Klege, is a Ghanian economist whose research focuses on the intersection of clean energy access and female entrepreneurship. She is a researcher at Environmental Research Policy Unit who is completing her PHD studies at the School of Economics, University of Cape Town in South Africa. What makes Rebecca Klege's work so unique is that she flips a common study question on its head. Rather than asking how energy access empowers women, she examines how empowered women can promote energy access, and whether or not they do a better job of it than men.   At the center of her research is a for-prof

  • Liberia Confronts the Coronavirus

    Liberia Confronts the Coronavirus

    18/05/2020 Duración: 30min

    My guest today, Dr. Mosoka P Fallah is helping to lead Liberia's fight against COVID-19. He is an infectious disease and public health expert and is the Director General National Public Health Institute of Liberia.  Dr. Fallah was a key player in Liberia's successful suppression of Ebola in 2014, for which he was named as one of Time Magazine's Persons of the Year. I mention this because, as Dr. Fallah explains, Liberia's experience with Ebola is very much informative of how both government and society approach COVID-19. I kick off by asking him about the role of regional cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 before we dive into the situation in Liberia. Today's episode is supported in part from a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to showcase African voices in peace and security issues. To view other episodes in this series, please visit

  • How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Stifling Free Speech

    How the Coronavirus Pandemic is Stifling Free Speech

    14/05/2020 Duración: 30min

    My guest, David Kaye, is the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression. He has held this position for the last three years, which has given him a unique vantage point--and unique platform--to monitor trends in the suppression of free speech. Today we discuss a new report to the UN Human Rights Council. In this report, David Kaye identifies and explains the ways in which governments and other entities have used the coronavirus pandemic to crack down on freedom of expression, independent media, and access to information. Among other things, this includes invoking laws to punish "fake news," and broad internet shutdowns.

  • An Inside Look at How the United Nations is Marking Its 75th Anniversary

    An Inside Look at How the United Nations is Marking Its 75th Anniversary

    11/05/2020 Duración: 32min

    The United Nations turns 75 this year. But rather than have a diamond jubilee, the UN is instead embarking on a listening tour. The UN is seeking feedback from as many people in as many communities as possible, all around three big questions: What Kind of World do We Want to Create? Are We on Track? And What is Needed to Bridge the Gap? In today's interview, I talk to Michelle Milford Morse, who is the UN Foundation’s Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy. She explains the significance of a 1995 UN meeting on women and gender equality which resulted in a key document called the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. We discuss progress and the lack there of on gender equality since that meeting, including how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting gender equality.  Then, after speaking with her for about 15 minutes, the consultation begins. This involved the audience answering a series of about 10 questions on the future of gender equality.

  • Lebanon is in the Midst of a Jaw-Dropping Economic Free Fall

    Lebanon is in the Midst of a Jaw-Dropping Economic Free Fall

    07/05/2020 Duración: 30min

    Lebanon is in the midst of an economic free fall, the degree to which is jaw dropping.  Inflation is out of control, commodities are hard to come by, and its currency is devaluing at a rapid clip. This all was happening months before the coronavirus pandemic. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, a deteriorating economic situation is poised to turn into a major political and social crisis. This is arguably the worst crisis since Lebanon emerged from a 15 year civil war in 1990. The government of Lebanon signaled that it would seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. But IMF loans come with conditions and as my guest today Maha Yahya explains, it is entirely unclear right now whether or not the government would be able to accept the kinds of conditions required for an IMF bailout.  Maha Yahya is the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center and I caught up with her from Beirut. We kick off discussing the roots of this economic crisis, which she explains can be traced to the political arrangements t

  • Climate Change and the COVID-19 Economic Recovery

    Climate Change and the COVID-19 Economic Recovery

    04/05/2020 Duración: 01h15min

    Today's episode was recorded in front of a live-online audience, and featured an all-star panel discussing how to make the economic recovery from COVID-19 sustainable, just, and resilient. In other words, as governments and institutions prepare their economic rescue and stimulus packages what can they do to ensure that the recovery is a green one?    I moderated and guided the conversation which included Isabella Lovin; the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and Minister for Climate and the Environment; Rachel Kyte, the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University ; Henrick Henricksson the CEO of Scania, which is a major manufacturer of trucks and buses; and Michael Lazarus, Senior Scientist Center Director of Stockholm Environment Institute US.   The live taping was co-hosted by the Leadership Group for Industry Transition, in partnership with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). It’s members are countries and companies that subscribe to the notion that energy-intensive industry can

  • New Research Finds a Link Between Fires, Childrens Health, and a Countrys GDP

    New Research Finds a Link Between Fires, Children's Health, and a Country's GDP

    30/04/2020 Duración: 28min

    My guest, Prachi Singh, is an associate fellow at the Brookings Institution, India Center and is a PhD candidate at Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi. Her research analyzed height and weight ratios of children who were exposed, in utero, to air pollution events like crop burning and forest fires. She finds a significant correlation between low weight and low height ratios and exposure to this pollution.  But her research goes further than that. She demonstrates how low height and weight ratios stemming from this exposure  impacts India's entire economy, including taking a significant toll on India's Gross Domestic Product. The peer reviewed research is cutting edge and has broad global implications. We kick off discussing the impact of what is known as stunting on children's health before having a conversation about her research methods and the significance of her findings.  Today’s episode is the second installment in a series of episodes that will be published over the next few months that showcase the

  • What Kim Jong Uns Health Rumors Teach Us About North Korea

    What Kim Jong Un's Health Rumors Teach Us About North Korea

    27/04/2020 Duración: 19min

    If you have been following news recently out of the Korean Peninsula, you may have seen a report that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was gravely ill. He had, according to this report, undergone heart surgery and was fighting for his life. The thing is, we have no way of knowing whether or not this is true. Patricia Kim joins me to discuss the significance of the rumor about Kim Jong Un's ill-health. She is the senior policy analyst with the China program at US Institute of Peace. We also analyze what we know about North Korea's experience with COVID-19, and what lies ahead for nuclear diplomacy between the United States, North Korea, South Korea, and China.    The bonus episode for premium subscribers this week is a conversation with Richard Haas, the longtime head of the Council on Foreign relations.

  •  How COVID-19 is Accelerating Geopolitical Shifts| Interview With Ian Bremmer

    How COVID-19 is Accelerating Geopolitical Shifts| Interview With Ian Bremmer

    23/04/2020 Duración: 26min

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the global order was poised for disruption. Global institutions were seemingly getting weaker, the United States under the Trump administration was abdicating its traditional role as a global leader, and China was most definitely flaunting its rising power on the global stage. Now, in the midst of a pandemic all these trends are still very much present -- but they're also accelerating according to my guest, Ian Bremmer.  Ian Bremmer is President of the Eurasia Group and President of GZERO Media. And in our conversation we discuss the big geopolitical shifts that are being exposed and hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes what Ian Bremmer calls "the Great Decoupling" of China and the United States. We discuss the idea that economic and technological interdependence between the United States and China is giving way to the creation of two separate systems. We also talk about how political disruptions and the coming election in the United States will impact geopolitic

  • Why the WHO Needs U.S. Support to Fight Coronavirus Spread | Congressman Ami Beras View

    Why the WHO Needs U.S. Support to Fight Coronavirus Spread | Congressman Ami Bera's View

    20/04/2020 Duración: 26min

    Congressman Ami Bera is a Democrat from California who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is chair of the subcommittee on Asia and Pacific. He is also a medical doctor who has long championed global health issues. Last November he served on a commission on pandemic preparedness convened by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC that issued a series of recommendations that looks rather prescient today.   We spoke just a day after President Trump announced that the United States was freezing funding for the World Health Organization and, needless to say, Congressman Bera strongly disagrees with that move. He explains the WHO's critical role in preventing clusters of COVID-19 from taking hold in poorer countries to secure the US homeland. We cover other ground too, including what the trajectory of the outbreak looks like here in the United States, and how that trajectory might shape US politics and foreign policy.

  • Why Dont More People Use Clean Cookstoves?

    Why Don't More People Use Clean Cookstoves?

    16/04/2020 Duración: 31min

    For years, the global development community has struggled over the problem of dirty burning cookstoves. These are typically rudimentary stoves that burn wood or other biomass -- and in the process emit harmful smoke indoors. Nearly three billion people around the world cook their meals this way, leading to environmental damage and illness. Indoor air pollution attributed to dirty burning cookstoves kills millions of people each year. The solution to the problem of dirty cookstoves should be straightforward -- just replace cookstoves that emit harmful pollutants with cleaner burning, improved cookstoves. Indeed, there are a great variety of efficient and clean cookstoves available today. But so far, these improved cookstoves are not being used at anywhere near a scale commensurate with the problem. The solution might exist, but consumers are often not using these better cookstoves.  My guest today, Subhrendu Pattanayak, sought to learn why people who would benefit the most from improved cookstoves are not usi

  • Uncovering Corruption in Sudan Following the Fall of Dictator Omar al-Bashir

    Uncovering Corruption in Sudan Following the Fall of Dictator Omar al-Bashir

    13/04/2020 Duración: 29min

    Omar al-Bashir ruled Sudan with an iron fist. Throughout his long tenure he brutally suppressed revolts and rebellions and, in the case of Darfur in the early 2000s, he orchestrated a genocide for which he was indicted by the International Criminal Court. About a year ago, Sudan's longtime ruler was ousted from power.  Today, Sudan is being lead by a transitional council that is made up of both civilian leaders of the protest movement and military leaders from the former regime -- many of whom benefited from institutionalized corruption.  On the line with me is Suliman Baldo. He is a researcher with the Enough Project and recently published a report for the corruption watchdog group, The Sentry. His article uncovers key details about the corruption that surrounded the Bashir regime. Suliman Baldo kicks off this conversation by explaining a scam involving Bashir's adopted son and his company, the Badr Overseas Group. We then get into a discussion about how the deeply embedded corruption of the former regime

  • Venezuela Plunges Deeper into Crisis

    Venezuela Plunges Deeper into Crisis

    09/04/2020 Duración: 30min

    On March 26th, the United States Department of Justice did something very unusual. In a press conference, Attorney General William Barr unsealed indictments against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and top regime officials, alleging drug trafficking and narcoterrorism. Previously, when the Trump administration declared Maduro to be an illegitimate leader it was done on the assumption that such a move would inspire defections among Maduro loyalists--particularly in the military and security services. That assumption was proven incorrect. Now, Venezuela has two rival governments with Maduro still in control of most state institutions and Juan Guaidó backed by the United States and most western powers.  On the line with me to discuss this is Keith Mines, senior advisor for Venezuela and Colombia at the United States Institute of Peace. We kick off discussing the indictments, how they fit into US policy toward Venezuela and whether or not this move may succeed in helping to dislodge Maduro from power. We also

  • The Coronavirus Human Rights Crackdown

    The Coronavirus Human Rights Crackdown

    06/04/2020 Duración: 30min

    During this state of emergency, some governments -- many in fact -- are using this time as a pretext to further consolidate power, crack down on a free press, and restrict civil liberties. This is happening in authoritarian countries, but also some democracies.  Philippe Bolopion is the deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch. He is on the line with me to discuss how, exactly, regimes around the world are using the coronavirus pandemic to justify crackdowns and human rights abuse. We kick off discussing the example of Hungary: a parliament controlled by the illiberal Prime Minister, Viktor Orban recently passed a sweeping measure giving Orban near-dictatorial powers. We also discuss other examples of leaders invoking COVID-19 to entrench themselves in power. This pandemic seems to be serving as an accelerant to certain negative trends in global human rights, trends we were seeing previous to the virus. Additionally, governments are using means of population control that were initially deve

  • How Are Different Countries Handling COVID-19? | A Comparison of Political Systems

    How Are Different Countries Handling COVID-19? | A Comparison of Political Systems

    02/04/2020 Duración: 32min

    As I record this, we are nearing the one million mark of reported cases of COVID-19. Although the spread is distributed unevenly, nearly every country on earth has now reported cases of COVID-19. It seems that certain countries, even countries with high case loads, are handling it better than others. Why is that? Political science, specifically comparative politics, can give us a new perspective in understanding why some countries are dealing with the outbreak better than others. This is a field of study that examines how the internal political characteristics of a country explain the way a state behaves, whether it's a democracy or a dictatorship. My guest today, Sofia Fenner is an assistant professor of political science at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and she specializes in comparative politics. Recently, Sofia Fenner wrote a really fascinating article on an academic blog, Duck of Minerva, that explains whether or not certain characteristics of a state determine how well it will respond to the coron

  • COVID-19 and Humanitarian Crises -- How Will NGOs Respond?

    COVID-19 and Humanitarian Crises -- How Will NGOs Respond?

    30/03/2020 Duración: 29min

    Before the coronavirus became a global pandemic, the world was confronting a series of humanitarian crises; ranging from wars to natural disasters. Much of the responsibility for providing emergency relief to people caught up in these kinds of crises falls on international non-governmental organizations, INGOs. Now, many of these organizations are taking on the additional responsibility of responding to the impact of the coronavirus in places already beset by crises. So, how does a large INGO prepare its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what will that response look like? I was glad to be able to present these questions to Susannah Friedman. Susannah is the Humanitarian Policy Director for CARE, which is one of the larger global humanitarian organizations. It has a staff of over 6,000 and works in over 100 countries.  We start by discussing the importance of a $2 billion funding appeal launched by the UN to coordinate a global response to COVID-19. We then discuss how this pandemic is impacting the day

  • Massive Swarms of Desert Locusts Are Causing Crisis in East Africa

    Massive Swarms of Desert Locusts Are Causing Crisis in East Africa

    26/03/2020 Duración: 36min

    Desert locusts are eating their way through East Africa on a scale not seen in decades. These migratory pests travel from field to field destroying either crops meant for human consumption or grasslands on which herders graze their livestock. It is estimated that a swarm the size of one square kilometer can eat as much food in a day as 35,000 people.  Right now, Ethiopia and Somalia are experiencing its worst locust situation in 25 years. For parts of Kenya, the swarms are larger than they have been in the last 70 years. These massive swarms are threatening to plunge this vulnerable region deeper into crisis. On the line with me to help explain the desert locust situation is Keith Cressman of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. He has been studying desert locusts for decades -- in fact, he is the senior desert locust forecasting officer at the UN FAO.  In our conversation, he explains why we are seeing this historic upsurge in desert locusts in East Africa, their impact on the lives and livelihoods of

  • Do International Criminal Courts Actually Deter War Crimes? |Interview with Jacqueline McAllister

    Do International Criminal Courts Actually Deter War Crimes? |Interview with Jacqueline McAllister

    23/03/2020 Duración: 35min

    I encountered a study in the journal, International Security by Dr. Jacqueline McAllister that examines whether or not international war crimes tribunals actually deter and prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity.  Jacqueline McAllister is an assistant professor of political science at Kenyon College. Her article, titled "Deterring Wartime Atrocities: Hard Lessons from the Yugoslav Tribunal" examines whether or not the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, known as the ICTY, was able to deter war crimes during the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s.   She finds that, indeed, there were some circumstances in which the ICTY deterred war crimes--but for that to happen, the conditions have to be just right.  We discuss what those conditions are, how she arrived at her findings, and what implications her study has for other war crimes tribunals, like the International Criminal Court.

  • The Coronavirus Pandemic and Its Effect on Low Income Countries and Global Development with Amanda Glassman

    The Coronavirus Pandemic and Its Effect on Low Income Countries and Global Development with Amanda Glassman

    19/03/2020 Duración: 28min

    The coronavirus pandemic could have major implications for international development.  As of now, most of the countries that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 are higher income countries; places like Italy, South Korea, and the United States. Low income countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, have not yet recorded significant clusters of the coronavirus --  but the economic consequences of the virus are being felt around the world. How can low income countries -- including those that have been the focus of major economic and social development efforts, often backed by international institutions like the World Bank --  protect themselves from both COVID-19 and its global economic fallout? Amanda Glassman is on the line with me to answer that question and to discuss the potential effects of the coronavirus on global development. She is the executive vice president and senior fellow with the Center for Global Development, and someone I have long turned to help me understand how international develop

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