146 episodes

We live in a confusing time, bombarded every day with news from around the world that can be hard to follow, or fully understand. Let Worldly be your guide. Every Thursday, senior writer Zack Beauchamp, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams, and staff defense writer Alex Ward give you the history and context you need to make sense of the moment and navigate the world around you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

Worldly Vox

    • Politics

We live in a confusing time, bombarded every day with news from around the world that can be hard to follow, or fully understand. Let Worldly be your guide. Every Thursday, senior writer Zack Beauchamp, senior foreign editor Jennifer Williams, and staff defense writer Alex Ward give you the history and context you need to make sense of the moment and navigate the world around you. Produced by Vox and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

    A coronavirus “coup” in Hungary

    A coronavirus “coup” in Hungary

     Zack, Jenn, and Alex explain how coronavirus is causing a global crisis for democracy — starting with Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán assumed dictatorial powers thanks to a legislature controlled by his party, effectively suspending democracy for an indefinite period of time. They explain the background necessary to understand what happened in Hungary and the implications for the country and Europe — and, then, in the second half, zoom out to talk about several other countries facing rising authoritarianism in a Covid-19 world, and why a pandemic is so dangerous for democracy in general.


    References:

    Zack has a phenomenal long read on how democracy died in Hungary 

    Zack also wrote about how authoritarian states aren’t better at dealing with coronavirus

    Here’s the New York Times piece we referenced in the second half

    Al-Monitor notes how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is using coronavirus to subvert democracy in Israel

    Glenn Greenwald’s comments saying digital surveillance could be “warranted” because of the coronavirus threat are in this BuzzFeed News story

    Politico reported on the emergency powers the Department of Justice sought during the coronavirus crisis

    Wired has a great piece on post-9/11 surveillance in the US

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
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    • 38 min
    The other global coronavirus epidemic: Denial

    The other global coronavirus epidemic: Denial

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss a striking pattern in countries around the world — their leadership’s denial about the threat posed by coronavirus. They show how denial helped the disease spread out of China and contributed to serious outbreaks in places like Iran and the United States, and note that — despite everything that happened — denial is still happening in places like Mexico and Brazil. They conclude by trying to explain why, in such different countries with such different political systems, denial seems to remain a huge problem.

    References:

    Vox has stories on Brazil, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and India, and many more are coming — so stay tuned.   

    Here’s the Reuters article Jenn cited on the show about Japan.

    Iranian leaders prioritized politics over health.

    Saudi Arabia announced its second death from coronavirus so far.

    The Post piece comparing the United States and Brazil that Zack mentioned.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 45 min
    The US-China coronavirus blame game

    The US-China coronavirus blame game

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss Trump’s offensive insistence on calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus” — why it’s both an attempt to deflect domestic political blame and part of a much broader geopolitical war with the Chinese government over who should be held responsible for the pandemic. They then run through the competition for global leadership between Washington and Beijing during the crisis — and explain why China, perhaps implausibly, may actually be winning.

    References:

    Make sure to follow Vox’s coronavirus reading guide.

    Our colleague Jen Kirby wrote a great story on how Italy is dealing with the coronavirus.

    Our other colleague Dylan Scott wrote on why the term we discuss is racist.

    Check out Vox’s video about why diseases keep popping up in China.

    Here’s the Washington Post article Zack mentioned about how “the system” isn’t working this time.

    And here’s Alex’s piece on the US-China trade war that Jenn mentioned.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 41 min
    Every country for itself

    Every country for itself

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex record an episode on coronavirus from their respective homes, under self-isolation. They talk about the politics of Trump’s ban on European travel to the US and explore why the European Union seems to be neglecting to help Italy in its time of need. They also explain how the virus has led to a massive drop in oil prices — and why, at this particular time, this could seriously destabilize political systems around the world.

    References:

    Vox’s Jen Kirby wrote a story on Trump’s Europe travel ban.

    Alex wrote about the Saudi-Russia oil price war.

    Italy criticized the EU for its slow response to help it deal with coronavirus.

    You can read about German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech here.

    Some Americans are paying up to $20,000 for a return flight from Europe.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.
     
    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.
     
    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 36 min
    Trump and the Taliban make a deal

    Trump and the Taliban make a deal

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the historic US-Taliban peace agreement that was just signed as a first step toward ending the war in Afghanistan. They discuss the terms of the deal, the serious obstacles that remain to actually achieving peace in the country, and why, even if it is shaky and possibly already unraveling, the deal is still a really big achievement. Zack gets serious about the costs of war, Jenn geeks out on terrorism (again), and Alex talks about texting with the Taliban.


    References:

    You can read the text of the peace agreement here.

    Here’s an Afghan official saying the US is negotiating the terms of its “surrender.”

    This is a really great analysis of some of the major flaws in the peace agreement. 

    Here’s the video of Gen. Mark Milley explaining that the peace agreement calls for a reduction in violence, not zero violence. 

    We mentioned that the Taliban controls a village on the outskirts of Kabul. Here’s a great piece about that village and what it tells us about the US failure in Afghanistan.

    Here’s the photo of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shaking hands with the top Taliban negotiator at the deal’s signing ceremony. 

    President Donald Trump said he had a “good conversation” on the phone with the Taliban’s top political leader.

    Alex mentioned a piece from the Council on Foreign Relations about the peace deal.
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    • 43 min
    One of the worst crises of Syria’s civil war

    One of the worst crises of Syria’s civil war

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about perhaps the single worst humanitarian crisis in Syria’s civil war — the ongoing situation in Idlib, where 3 million people are trapped in a province under assault by Bashar al-Assad and his allies. They explain how we got to this point, why the situation is so dangerous, and what could happen next.

    References:
    Our colleague Jen Kirby wrote a great explainer on the conflict in Idlib.
    Jen mentioned the book Assad, or We Burn the Country, which you can find here.
    Alex reported on Assad’s “siege, starve, and surrender” strategy as his forces overtook Eastern Ghouta.
    Turkey does want to send Syrian refugees to a “safe zone” in northern Syria.
    Turkey invaded northern Syria to fight US-allied Kurds near its border.
    Charity Navigator has a guide on the best places to donate support to people in Syria.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox

    More to explore:
    Subscribe for free to Today, Explained, Vox’s daily news podcast to help you understand the news, hosted by Sean Rameswaram.

    About Vox:
    Vox is a news network that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines.

    Follow Us:
    Vox.com 
    Newsletter: Vox Sentences 
    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

    • 44 min

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