140 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.

    The debate didn’t cover foreign policy. So we did.

    The debate didn’t cover foreign policy. So we did.

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex break down the 2020 Democratic field’s positions on foreign policy — which were weirdly under-discussed in the most recent debate. They set up a spectrum, with Bloomberg on the (far) right flank and Bernie on the left, situate the other candidates along this line, and discuss the things that distinguish each candidate on the issues. Zack comes out as a free trader, Jenn heaps love on Biden’s detailed foreign policy answers, and Alex gets feisty.

    References:
    Alex wrote about the foreign policy splits among the frontrunners, as well as Buttigieg dodging questions.
    Here are the Council on Foreign Relations and New York Times foreign policy surveys.
    Alex conducted foreign policy interviews with Tom Steyer and Julián Castro.
    Biden has some explaining to do on his Iraq War stance, as does Bloomberg.

    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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    • 46 min
    Could coronavirus collapse Chinese communism?

    Could coronavirus collapse Chinese communism?

    Zack and Alex talk about the politics of the coronavirus outbreak in China — why the Chinese government botched the initial response, why Chinese citizens are so angry about it, and the reasons why the problems with this response are inherent to the current Chinese governance model. They then debate the claim from many analysts that this is the most serious crisis for China’s regime since the 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising — and the (low) probability that this could trigger another revolution-minded uprising.

    References:
    Our colleague Julia Belluz has you covered on the coronavirus. Read her work here, here, and here.
    Read the nice things Chinese people have said about the late Li Wenliang after his death.
    Here’s the full clip of Bill Bishop speaking on coronavirus’ impact on China.
    Zack read an academic paper on the show on “symbolic legitimacy” and China. 
    This piece in the Guardian titled “If China valued free speech, there would be no coronavirus crisis” is worth your time.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, 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

    • 42 min
    Mini. Nuclear. Weapons.

    Mini. Nuclear. Weapons.

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex discuss the Trump administration’s decision to put a mini nuclear weapon on a US submarine for the first time. They explain what a mini-nuke actually is, the reasons for this decision, the cases for and against doing it, and how to think about the future of nuclear weapons policy in a world of renewed great power politics and weakening arms control agreements. Zack confesses his fascination with pre-modern warfare, Jenn coins a Ringo Starr theory of nuclear policy, and Alex describes himself as an “end of the world enthusiast.”

    References:
    This is a really great summary of the debate on putting mini-nukes on submarines.
    Here’s a link to the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review.
    Zack talked about Vipin Narang’s War on the Rocks piece on the discrimination problem when using low-yield nukes.
    Alex discussed Russia’s “escalate to de-escalate” strategy.
    Jenn mentioned the idea of a “nuclear taboo” and also referenced the book Thinking about the Unthinkable. 
    Here’s a link to the “mineshaft gap” scene in Dr. Strangelove.
    Alex broke the story about the Trump administration’s new landmine policy, and also wrote a great (and terrifying) feature on how nuclear war could kill us all.

    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
    The dark logic of Trump’s Israel-Palestine “peace plan”

    The dark logic of Trump’s Israel-Palestine “peace plan”

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex are joined by the Middle East Institute’s Khaled Elgindy to discuss the Trump administration’s new Israel-Palestine peace plan. They break down what’s actually in the proposal, the ways in which its provisions are profoundly skewed toward the Israeli side, and how it could change the reality for both sides even if its provisions are never implemented.

    References:
    Here’s a link to our special guest Khaled Elgindy’s excellent book Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians, from Balfour to Trump.
    You can read Alex’s explainer on the peace plan and his Q&A on what the Palestinians are likely to do now.
    Here’s Zack’s piece arguing the peace deal is a con.
    This is the Washington Post op-ed Zack read from in the episode.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, 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
    Hacking Jeff Bezos

    Hacking Jeff Bezos

    Zack and Alex are joined by Weeds cohost Matt Yglesias to talk about the Saudi crown prince’s seemingly brazen hack of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — by personally texting him a video that cybersecurity experts think contained advanced spyware. They explain the evidence that the Saudis are responsible (despite their denials), try to explore why Mohammed bin Salman would do something so obviously inflammatory, and suss out the implications for the future of the US-Saudi alliance.

    References:
    Here’s the UN report on the Bezos hack and FTI Consulting’s technical analysis of Bezos’s phone.
    Vox’s Sara Morrison notes that the Bezos hack could happen to anyone.
    Vox’s Jen Kirby also wrote up the Bezos news when it broke.

    Hosts:
    Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, Vox
    Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias), Senior correspondent, 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

    • 43 min
    The entire Russian government just resigned

    The entire Russian government just resigned

    Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about the recent resignation of Russia’s entire government — yes, you read that right. Guest Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a Russia expert at the Center for a New American Security, helps the team get a hold on what Putin’s play is: how he’s reorganizing the government to prepare for his own departure from the presidency, and what this means in the big picture for Russia’s future. They also talk about one of Zack’s weird dreams and the proper way to cook brussels sprouts.

    References:
    Check out our special guest Andrea Kendall-Taylor’s podcast “Brussels Sprouts,” her piece for Foreign Affairs titled “The New Dictators,” and her book “Democracies and Authoritarian Regimes.”
    Jen Kirby’s Vox writeup on the Russia shake-up is here.
    Reid Standish, the Moscow-based reporter Alex mentioned, wrote a great piece on Putin’s decision for Foreign Policy (and quotes Andrea).
    Zack wrote a piece in 2018 about the problems personalist authoritarian regimes have, linking it to Putin’s election that year.

    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

    • 43 min

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