164 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
    • 5.0, 2 Ratings

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.

    The last safeguard against nuclear war is about to fall

    The last safeguard against nuclear war is about to fall

    To mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about an alarming series of recent US withdrawals from nuclear arms control agreements. They explain the history of nuclear arms control, why the US has turned against them (especially in the Trump era), and why this makes the small but still very scary risk of nuclear war go up. They also talk about some other scary nuclear news — China’s recently uncovered support for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program — and how progress could be made on saving the international arms control regime.

    References:
    Here’s Alex’s long feature on “the end of arms control as we know it.”
    He also wrote about how a nuclear war kills you.
    The Wall Street Journal broke the story on Saudi Arabia’s secret nuclear facility.
    Ernest Moniz, the energy secretary in the Obama administration, thinks the risk of nuclear weapons use is at its highest point since the Cuban missile crisis.
    The US military just showed off its new hypersonic missile.
    Vox has a story on the Soviet colonel who stopped a nuclear crisis from escalating.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    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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    • 46 min
    No troops for you

    No troops for you

    Jenn and Alex discuss the Trump administration’s controversial decision, formally announced this week, to move forward with a plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany. Critics from both parties say it’s a gift to Russia, while the Pentagon argues it’s a necessary repositioning of forces to better deter Russia in Eastern Europe. President Trump, though, says he’s doing it because Germany isn’t paying its fair share in NATO (a misleading claim at best). Alex and Jenn talk through the merits of the different arguments and examine what the troop reduction could mean for the future of Europe.

    References:
    You can find the official Pentagon statements on the decision here and here

    NATO has a bunch of defense spending charts

    Deutsche Welle has what you need to know about the troop withdrawal decision here and here

    Members of Trump’s team seem to really like the idea

    That time when Merkel rebuffed Trump’s G7 summit invitation, kicking this whole drama off

    Find Trump’s comments for the decision here

    The Biden campaign sent Alex a statement on the troop withdrawal issue

    And here’s that Twitter question Alex asked that got a major conversation going about the “gift” to Putin charge

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    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

    • 43 min
    The moral urgency of the Uighur crisis

    The moral urgency of the Uighur crisis

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the Chinese government's systematic detention of tens of thousands of Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, where many are subjected to torture, brainwashing, and other human rights abuses. They get into the disturbing details of what China is actually doing in these camps, what’s motivating the Chinese leadership to engage in such atrocities, and why the US and international community aren't doing enough to stop it. They conclude by discussing what we can all do to try to change that.

    References:
    Vox’s Jen Kirby has a 2018 explainer on China’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.

    China is forcing the sterilization of Uighur Muslims, and is using Uighur labor to make coronavirus-related PPE.

    You can find How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics, the book Alex read from, here.

    The New York Times reported on about 400 leaked papers from the Chinese government detailing its plan to harshly treat Uighur Muslims.

    Axios reports how the Chinese government has struggled to explain reports and images of Uighurs put into concentration camps.

    The BBC reports how companies like Apple and Nike are facing pressure to cut ties with suppliers that use forced Uighur labor.

    Vice has a stunning documentary on “China’s Vanishing Muslims,” and PBS’s Frontline went “undercover” to see what’s really happening in Xinjiang.

    There are many groups accepting donations if you want to try to help Uighur Muslims in China. 

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    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

    • 46 min
    Israel was going to annex the West Bank. It didn't.

    Israel was going to annex the West Bank. It didn't.

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss the stalled Israeli plan to unilaterally annex parts of the West Bank. The deeply controversial move was supposed to take place on July 1, but at the last minute Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided not to go through with it — for now, at least. The Worldly crew looks at what factors may have led to his sudden reversal and what might happen next. In the second half of the show, the gang examines how the politics in the Democratic Party around the US-Israel relationship are shifting and what all of this means for the future of the two-state solution.

    References:
    Here’s Jen Kirby’s piece on the annexation plan.

    Alex wrote about what Trump’s peace plan actually said.

    This New York magazine story talked about the Bowman-Engel race and how Israel played a part in it.

    You can find Peter Beinart’s essay that Zack mentioned in Jewish Currents, and here’s Ilan Goldenberg’s op-ed in the Washington Post.

    Back in 2016, Zack wrote about how Bernie Sanders broke the Israel taboo.

    Polls show most Americans support Palestinian statehood, while another poll shows Americans — but not liberal Democrats — are mainly pro-Israel.

    Vox’s Conor Murray wrote about how Israel’s second coronavirus wave is a problem for Netanyahu. 

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    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

    • 50 min
    The end of Hong Kong

    The end of Hong Kong

    Zack and Jenn talk about China's new national security law in Hong Kong, a ploy by Beijing to seize more control of the semi-autonomous city. They explain how the law vacates Hong Kong’s democratic freedoms and how Hongkongers have been responding. Then they zoom out to talk about what the world can do to address the increasingly horrific human rights abuses of Xi Jinping’s government — and why the integration of China into the global economy, while tremendously beneficial in many ways, makes this all so much harder.

    References:

    Here’s Jenn’s piece with Conor Murray on the Hong Kong national security law and the immediate aftermath, which includes the photo Jenn mentioned of a pro-democracy lawmaker being arrested by riot police.

    And Vox’s Jen Kirby’s bigger explainer on the law and what it means for Hong Kong’s future.

    You can read the official English translation of the law itself here. 

    This is the tweet from the Hong Kong Police Force announcing the first arrest under the new law.

    A good piece from the Atlantic detailing how the law was crafted in secrecy without the input of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam or Hong Kong’s legislature.

    The NPR report Jenn referenced that talks about the new “National Security Committee” established under the law that allows Beijing to oversee prosecutions of the law in Hong Kong.  

    Here’s a chapter from a book from the Peterson Institute for International Economics that looks at the question of whether and under what conditions economic sanctions work to compel countries to change their policies.

    This is a great video explainer on China’s secret internment camps for Uighur Muslims; Jen Kirby has a thorough written explainer on the subject here; and Vox’s Sigal Samuel, who spent months reporting on the Uighur situation, did a Reddit AMA on the subject, the highlights of which you can read here.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    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

    • 40 min
    Is Trump letting Putin get away with murder?

    Is Trump letting Putin get away with murder?

    Zack and Jenn break down the growing scandal surrounding intelligence reports that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to attack US troops in Afghanistan. They walk through the evidence so far that Russia did this and what Vladimir Putin’s motivations might have been. Then they talk about the evidence that Trump knew about it and did nothing — and how this points to a much bigger problem for American foreign policy in the Trump era.

    References:
    Zack has a really great explainer on the entire scandal 

    Here’s a collection of some of the key New York Times reports on the story: the first story they broke; the story about the data on financial transfers from a bank account linked to Russia’s GRU to a Taliban-linked account; and the story about the Afghan businessman alleged to have been the intermediary in the Russian scheme.

    Here’s Trump’s tweet calling this all a “Fake News Media Hoax” nearly a week after the news first broke

    This is the AP piece reporting that Trump’s former National Security Adviser John Bolton personally briefed Trump on the intelligence in March 2019

    And this is the New York Times report in which an intelligence official says the information was specifically included in Trump’s February 27 President’s Daily Brief

    Here’s more about one of the attacks on US forces in Afghanistan, outside Bagram Air Base, that is reportedly being investigated in connection with the Russian bounty scheme 

    This is a New York Times piece from May 2020 about how hard it is to get Trump to pay attention to and absorb the information he’s being given in his intelligence briefings, based on interviews with 10 current and former intelligence officials

    And here’s a Politico report that talks about how White House officials particularly don’t enjoy having to brief Trump on Russia-related issues because of his negative reactions when they do: 

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, Vox
    Alex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, Vox
     
    Consider contributing to Vox:
    If you value Worldly’s work, please consider making a contribution to Vox: bit.ly/givepodcasts
     
    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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