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Worldly

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.

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Maybe collusion, probably obstruction [Special Crossover Edition]

Ezra Klein joins Zack, Jenn, and Alex in a crossover episode with The Weeds on Robert Mueller’s just-released report. They explain the special counsel's main findings on collusion with Russian election interference and on obstruction of justice and why they aren’t good for Trump. Then they zoom out and talk about what this whole episode reveals about the health of American democracy and how this gives a green light for Russia and other authoritarian powers to intervene in future US elections. Given how important this report is, and how early they got up to cover it, your intrepid hosts were too tired for jokes this week — sorry.The full text of the report, compiled by Alex for your reading pleasureA refresher on who's who in the Trump-Russia universeHere's a look at the collusion section of the report from ZackHere's another take from Zack on Attorney General William Barr's worrying role in all of thisTen examples of potential obstruction in Mueller's report How 11 legal experts evaluate the claims of obstructionZack and Future Perfect's Dylan Matthews break down the big winners and losers from the reportThe Big Vox Explainer on the Mueller report If you liked this episode, we think you’ll like The Weeds and The Ezra Klein Show. Tap to learn more and subscribe for free to get new episodes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

39mins

18 Apr 2019

Rank #1

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A very Worldly guide to 2019 — and 2020

Zack, Jenn, and Alex do a 2019 year in review — each one of them making a choice for biggest US foreign policy story of 2019, while the whole team debates just how important each of these events were. Then, after the break, they do the same for 2020 — making predictions about what the big stories will be.References:Here’s Alex’s great piece on how the Baghdadi raid went down: Alex interviewed Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó about his failed push to overthrow Nicolás Maduro Vox's Umair Irfan explained Trump’s formal withdrawal from the Paris climate accordsHere’s a phenomenal feature on what Afghans think about US-Taliban peace talks and the possible withdrawal of US troopsZeeshan Aleem explained the latest in the US-China trade war for Vox Hosts:Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, VoxJennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, VoxAlex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, VoxMore 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

46mins

19 Dec 2019

Rank #2

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American democracy, hacked

Zack, Jenn, and Alex put the upcoming American elections in global context. They explain why long polling lines and gerrymandered districts are very much not the norm among advanced democracies and how other countries avoid them. Then they dissect the latest news about Russian, Iranian, and other foreign interference in the 2020 election — and debate whether it even matters anymore.References:Here’s Alex’s piece for Vox on how other countries do elections better.And Jen Kirby wrote for Vox on what US intelligence leaders said yesterday about Russia’s and Iran’s interference efforts.BBC News explains why it can be hard to vote in America.NBC News reported on how China is adopting interference techniques the Russians have been using.In August, a top US intelligence official said China, Russia, and Iran were interfering in the 2020 election for differing reasons.CyberScoop reported that North Korea, Cuba, and Saudi Arabia also aim to sway the vote.The US Justice Department charged Russians with interfering in the elections this week.Hosts:Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, VoxJennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, VoxAlex 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

47mins

22 Oct 2020

Rank #3

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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, VoxJennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, VoxAlex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, VoxMore 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

44mins

27 Feb 2020

Rank #4

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A man, a plan, Iran

On this week’s episode, Zack, Jenn, and Alex look at the economics behind Trump’s offer to sit down with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian economy is in trouble after the US withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal, due to the impending threat of new sanctions; Trump hopes this will pressure the Iranians to come back to the negotiating table, but it might actually backfire. On Elsewhere, they talk about Google’s plan to move into China by building a censored search engine, and the ways tech giants are like mini states. Alex reveals his love of pistachios, Jenn expresses distaste for Bing, and Zack pinpoints the “Iranian carrot.” References! We played a clip from a recent Trump rally in Tampa, Florida. The full rally can be found here. Jenn read a quote from this Chicago Tribune article, which also goes deeper into the Iranian economy. Alex gave us a recap on America’s previous sanctions and the Iran nuclear deal. More details here. He also mentioned that the Iranian currency has dropped dramatically since 2012. In discussing the protests, the team referenced the Green Movement. Zack suggests this research on the effects of sanctions as further reading. The Intercept piece that broke the Google Project Dragonfly story. More on Google’s first go-round in China, and on Operation Aurora. Jenn ran through some censorship specifics. She gave the example of the Winnie the Pooh ban and, more recently, the crackdown on women calling out sexual assault. Alex mentioned that Google employees pushed back against Pentagon contracts.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

25mins

2 Aug 2018

Rank #5

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The president of the world's most powerful democracy doesn't seem to actually like democracy

Yochi, Zack, and special guest Loren DeJonge Schulman discuss President Trump's trip to Asia, where his warm feelings for foreign autocrats and refusal to discuss human rights abuses raise real questions about whether the leader of the world's biggest democracy actually cares much about democracy. Those concerns are magnified by Trump's ongoing calls for a criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton, a move usually relegated to banana republics, not the US. On Elsewhere, they turn to one of the strangest US military scandals in memory: growing evidence that members of the elite Seal Team 6 killed an American Special Forces soldier who'd found evidence they were embezzling money. Yochi confesses to being a closet video game addict, Zack shares some strong feelings about Henry Kissinger, and Loren battles a Sudafed-fueled high.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

54mins

16 Nov 2017

Rank #6

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America, humiliated

Zack, Jenn, and Jen Kirby discuss the assault on the US Capitol by a pro-Trump insurrection that has shaken America to its core. They look at the intelligence and law enforcement failures that allowed a mob to so easily seize one of the pillars of American government despite the US having spent billions on national security since 9/11. In the second half of the show, they talk about the damage the siege has done to America’s image abroad and what that means for the future of global politics and democracy.References:Threats spread online before the assault on the US CapitolBuzzfeed’s report on the right-wing online organizing What we know about the security failuresThe Washington Post’s report on the role of the National GuardA coup expert on Wednesday’s eventsHow world leaders are reactingITV’s report on the Capitol insurrectionThe Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum on the diminished power of America’s democratic exampleHosts:Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, VoxJennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, VoxJen Kirby (@j_kirby1), foreign 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 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

46mins

7 Jan 2021

Rank #7

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Take the oil

Zack, Jenn, and Alex talk about Trump’s new Syria policy — sending US troops to protect oil fields and potentially selling the oil to the highest bidder. It’s a really bad idea!Hosts:Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), senior correspondent, VoxJennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), senior foreign editor, VoxAlex Ward (@AlexWardVox), national security reporter, VoxMore 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

40mins

31 Oct 2019

Rank #8

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Boris's Great British Brexit-Off

Zack and Jenn are joined by Vox foreign writer Jen Kirby to talk about UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to “prorogue” Parliament — meaning suspend it for five weeks — during the runup to the October 31st Brexit deadline. They explain how this is an obvious maneuver to prevent Parliament from blocking a no-deal Brexit, and then break down what Parliament could do in response, and how all of this represents a serious challenge for British democracy.Here’s Jen Kirby’s explainer on the whole proroguing controversy. We mentioned that the UK government’s own analyses suggest a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the UK. And here’s a link to our past episode “The looming Brexit catastrophe” on what a no-deal Brexit could mean for Britain. The UK House of Commons Library has a good summary of how proroguing normally works.Here’s more on how the opposition Labour Party was planning to thwart Johnson before all this happened. Here’s a member of Johnson’s Conservative Party, Dominic Grieve, calling Johnson’s move "tantamount to a coup against Parliament."We referenced this BuzzFeed article about possible ideas Johnson has floated to try to force Brexit through.Business Insider has a good piece explaining the debate about how involved the queen should get in all this.Hosts:Jennifer Williams (@jenn_ruth), Senior Foreign Editor, VoxZack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp), Senior Correspondent, VoxAlex Ward (@AlexWardVox), National security reporter, VoxMore 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 podcastchoices.com/adchoices

19mins

29 Aug 2019

Rank #9

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Burma was a democratic success story. Now it’s the site of ethnic cleansing.

Yochi, Jenn, and Zack look at the growing human rights catastrophe in Myanmar, where Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi is doing nothing to stop her country's military from mounting a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against its Muslim minority. Burma had long been seen as a democratic success story; now it may be edging closer to genocide. On Elsewhere, they look ahead to next week's United Nations General Assembly, where leaders from around the world will snarl traffic in New York while trying to make sense of Donald Trump. Zack issues a heartfelt call for the creation of a world government, Jenn bashes U2, and Yochi recalls a long afternoon of drinking and smoking with the Russian foreign minister.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

56mins

14 Sep 2017

Rank #10

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From Russia, with love (and hacking)

Zack, Jenn, and Alex examine the evidence of Russian meddling in the 2016 election — and how much of it President Donald Trump had already been shown before his meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They dig into the Justice Department’s indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence operatives, which came out just before Trump went to Helsinki, and another indictment announced the day of the Helsinki meeting targeting a Russian woman named Maria Butina who allegedly plotted to infiltrate the NRA. For Elsewhere, they look at the unrest in Nicaragua, which has killed some 300 people. Zack tells everyone how to pronounce “Guccifer,” Alex celebrates having gone to the same school as a Russian spy, and Jenn wishes she could dye her hair “red like Mother Russia.” We didn’t go deep into the actual press conference this episode, but if you want to read more about America’s geopolitical suicide, Zack wrote a great piece this week. Alex explained why we didn’t just give things up to Russia — we also didn’t get much in return. Zack mentioned this recent New York times story several times throughout the episode. Jenn talked about Vox writer Andrew Prokop’s breakdown of the Mueller indictment. This is the piece Jenn recommends for anyone who wants to read more about Maria Butina. This is the video of her short interview at FreedomFest Jenn touched on Alexander Torshin momentarily but suggests this for anyone who wants to do a deeper dive. More on Jenn’s point that Russia funded fake Black Lives Matter protests and other fake rallies Jenn gave a shout out to Vox writer Jen Kirby’s roundup of all the times opportunities Trump had to call out Russia for election meddling For Elsewhere, we talk about Nicaragua. For more on that story, Alex suggests this Washington Post piece. Here’s a short Washington Post video of protests in Nicaragua. As Zack promised, some research showing Nicaraguan commitment to democracy The response from Heather Nauert that Jenn paraphrased. Want more Nicaragua coverage? Check out Today, Explained’s episode on the issue.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

24mins

19 Jul 2018

Rank #11

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The military’s biggest challenge? Trump.

Jenn sits down with returning guest Alex Ward and special guest Loren DeJonge Schulman, a defense expert at the Center for a New American Security, to talk about why the hell the Pentagon keeps getting caught off guard by big decisions coming from the White House. From Trump canceling military exercises with South Korea to creating a new “space force” to asking the military to prepare to house thousands of immigrant children on US military bases, Secretary of Defense James Mattis seems to be completely out of the loop these days. The gang talks about what that means for Mattis, Trump, and US foreign policy going forward. Jenn imagines Mattis’s inner thoughts, Alex decides that space war is boring, and Loren makes an awesome reference to the Netflix show The Crown.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

29mins

28 Jun 2018

Rank #12

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Why Trump doubled down on America’s forever war

Yochi, Jenn, and Zack look at Trump’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan despite spending years calling for a US withdrawal, why it’s impossible to truly defeat the Taliban, and the sad reality that America’s longest war will now continue well into the future. On Elsewhere, they look at whether the Cuban government used a secret, new sonic weapon against American diplomats in Havana. Zack makes Yochi and Jenn feel like terrible people for finding that very, very funny.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

55mins

24 Aug 2017

Rank #13

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Bloodshed in Sudan

Jenn and Alex explain how months-long protests to oust a brutal dictator in Sudan, once so hopeful, have fallen victim to a bloody repression campaign. After initial peaceful talks, a government-linked paramilitary group decided to attack demonstrators, killing as many as 100 people and dumping bodies in the Nile River. The worry now is that Sudan is turning into another Arab Spring-like horror story, meaning that another repressive regime may ultimately survive despite the will of the people. Jenn shows off her Middle East expertise, Alex hosts Worldly for the first time, and both hope the Sudanese protesters get justice.References:This piece from Vox’s Jen Kirby outlines how the military coup that ousted Bashir happened and why protesters still weren’t satisfied. And this piece from former Vox intern Salwa Sadek takes a look at the women who have been at the forefront of the protest movement in Sudan. Here’s more on what we know about the death toll so far and the reports of sexual assault against protesters.This is a great article about how the Rabaa Massacre in Egypt ended the Arab Spring.For a good primer on the Arab Spring more generally, check out The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know.Jenn also mentioned that this week was the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China. The New York Times has a great collection of their recent coverage of that event here.And as promised, here’s the reservation link to our LIVE SHOW! bit.ly/link-worldly Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

17mins

6 Jun 2019

Rank #14

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The New York attack reveals ISIS’s plan for survival

Jenn is back, and she joins Yochi and Zack to talk about what the terror attack in New York says about the true ISIS threat to the US. With ISIS on the run in Iraq and Syria, the sad reality is that the group will double down on its efforts to find would-be terrorists who live abroad and are willing to kill in its name. And that means more attacks on American and European cities are inevitable as militants like Sayfullo Saipov study ISIS propaganda and adopt the group's dark worldview. On Elsewhere, they return to Iraqi Kurdistan to look at the political fallout from a catastrophic independence referendum that has now caused the resignation of the most powerful man in northern Iraq. Zack makes a surprising soccer reference, Jenn defends Uzbekistan, and a listener says Yochi sounds like the villain on "Criminal Minds."  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

52mins

2 Nov 2017

Rank #15

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Jamestown: Utopian for Whom?

Nice Try! is a new podcast from Curbed and the Vox Media Podcast Network that explores stories of people who have tried to design a better world, and what happens when those designs don't go according to plan. Season one, Utopian, follows Avery Trufelman on her quest to understand the perpetual search for the perfect place. Enjoy this special preview of the first episode, Jamestown: Utopian for Whom, and subscribe to Nice Try! for free in your favorite podcast app. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

11mins

12 Jun 2019

Rank #16

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Polish Holocaust denial and the weaponization of history

Yochi, Jenn, and Zack talk about a controversial new law in Poland that makes it illegal to accuse the "Polish nation" of being complicit in the Holocaust, a change that has infuriated the US, Israel, and Jewish communities around the world. The anger comes from a simple fact: Poland suffered when it was occupied by the Nazis during World War II, but some Poles actively took part in the mass slaughter of their country's Jewish population, and the new law tries to erase that history. On Elsewhere, they look at how President Trump's call for a giant military parade through the streets of Washington DC is running into opposition from the military, the population of Washington, and pretty much every Republican senator that's been asked about it. Yochi remembers a profoundly unpleasant trip to Poland, Jenn busts out an elaborate elephant metaphor, and Zack mourns the end of his 20s. Referenced Workshttps://www.amazon.com/Neighbors-Destruction-Jewish-Community-Jedwabne/dp/0142002402http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=540926https://www.amazon.com/Small-Town-Near-Auschwitz-Holocaust/dp/0199679258http://insider.foxnews.com/2018/02/07/trump-military-par... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/06/world/europe/poland-holocaust-law.html   Further Readinghttps://www.vox.com/2017/5/24/15675606/bryan-stevenson-confederacy-monuments-slavery-ezra-kleinhttps://www.vox.com/identities/2017/8/16/16151252/confederate-statues-white-supremacistshttps://www.vox.com/videos/2017/10/25/16545362/southern-socialites-civil-war-... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

33mins

8 Feb 2018

Rank #17

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Why America can’t quit Guantanamo Bay

Zack, Jenn, and returning guest Alex Ward discuss the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and President Trump’s announcement this week that he’s keeping it open and may send ISIS fighters there. On Elsewhere, the gang looks at a bizarre and hilarious story out of Spain involving a police chase, a car filled with thousands of oranges, and a decades-old battle between Spain and France over...fruit. Zack waxes poetic about one of his favorite essays on torture, Jenn shows off her legal knowledge, and Alex proves why his standup comedy career was short-lived. Referenced Works: Trump just signed an executive order that will keep Guantanamo open Liberalism, Torture, and the Ticking Bomb The oversized rodents that could take over Guantanamo Bay prison Police pull over a car and oranges come tumbling out Further Reading: 7 Key Points From the C.I.A. Torture Report Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency's Detention and Interrogation Program Gitmo is Back in Business Guantanamo by the Numbers   Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

30mins

1 Feb 2018

Rank #18

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Angela Merkel won Germany’s election. So did the far-right.

Yochi, Jenn, and Zack look at Sunday’s landmark elections in Germany, which were simultaneously reassuring and deeply alarming. German Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term, which means she’ll still have the power to let in refugees, challenge Vladimir Putin, and defend the international order in all the ways President Trump refuses to. At the same time, a far-right German political party known for its bigotry and Islamophobia surged at the polls, a jarring shift for a country with Germany’s dark history. On Elsewhere, they look at Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to allow women to drive, a victory — but only a small one — for the female activists fighting to gain more rights in the deeply conservative country. Jenn manages to squeeze in an obscure Lady Gaga reference, Yochi goes a whole episode without an old age joke, and Zack gives his one-sentence view of the Saudi government (hint: he doesn’t like it).  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

48mins

28 Sep 2017

Rank #19

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America is out of the Iran deal. Now what?

On a special episode of Worldly, Yochi, Jenn, and Zack talk about President Trump's historic and dangerous decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, a move that angered America's closest allies and potentially set the stage for a new Mideast war. Israel and Iran started trading blows within a day of Trump's decision, and the situation could quickly get worse as American friends and enemies adjust to the new reality Trump has created. Yochi compares economic sanctions to football, Zack offers a hot take for the ages, and Jenn says the technical term for a trade war is "some real shit." Zack’s big explainer about what it means that we’ve withdrawn from the Iran deal … and some more context in a quicker form from Alex Ward. Yochi quoted Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s statements on the recent strikes. Here’s more background on that quote. As Jenn mentioned, we touched on some of the implications of an Iran-Israel war last episode. Alex also has a great piece on this that touches on the recent strikes. Yochi mentioned a previous strike that killed seven Iranian military personnel. Soon after becoming the new US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell tweeted, “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” Yochi talked about this tweet and the response it elicited from a former German ambassador. Zack dived into some fun wonky policy surrounding “blocking regulations” and how Europe might use them to deal with the current sanctions. Here’s the piece Zack was quoting when he said that an expert believes the Iran deal would have kept Iran from getting a nuclear bomb until at least 2041. John Bolton’s 2015 New York Times opinion piece “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.” We played a clip of Bolton talking about that op-ed. It was from an interview he did with Jon Stewart back in 2015. Jenn mentioned a more recent op-ed Bolton wrote for the Washington Post slamming the Iran deal.    She also mentioned that the International Atomic Energy Agency and a variety of other experts agreed that the Iran deal was effective. Yochi mentioned that President George W. Bush had had a request for bunker-busting bombs from Israel and declined. Here’s an old New York Times article with more details. Here’s the “winners and losers of the Iran deal” piece that Yochi suggested. For more information on the Iran deal, please check out Wednesday’s episode of Today, Explained.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

27mins

10 May 2018

Rank #20