Matters of State - Underreported Issues in World News & International Relations

By Young Professionals in International Relations

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Description

Young professionals in Washington, DC get together weekly to discuss underreported global issues over drinks.

Episode Date
Sports Diplomacy
39:07

Sporting events such as the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup never fail to capture the world’s attention, no matter what other international events are going on. Governments have noticed sports as a global attention-getter and for decades have been using sports as a means to achieve higher global standing or other foreign policy objectives....

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Mar 09, 2020
Spotlight: Mongolia
29:43

In this episode, we focus on Mongolia, one of the least densely populated countries in the world at 2 people per square kilometer. We outline the history of the country, its domestic politics, where it sits in relation to the rest of the world, and what that means for its future. Dig Deeper Take a...

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Feb 17, 2020
Human-Wildlife Conflict
44:35

In this episode, we speak with Mark Hofberg from the International Fund for Animal Welfare to talk about human-wildlife conflict. We discuss the inherent challenges that both humans and wildlife face while trying to simply exist in an increasingly hungry and crowded world. Dig Deeper Take a look at some of our favorite articles that...

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Feb 10, 2020
The East African Community
29:42

In this episode, we discuss the origins, successes, and challenges of the East African Community, a political and economic bloc comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. Dig Deeper Take a look at some of our favorite articles that we came across while researching this topic: EAC Webpage Headwinds toward East African regional...

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Feb 03, 2020
Compromised Infrastructure
41:59

In this episode, we explore the history of compromised infrastructure, which countries are engaged in this kind of behavior, and what sort of advantages they seek to gain.

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Jan 27, 2020
Piracy
31:13

Over the past ten years, the world has seen a strong resurgence of piracy, particularly around the Horn of Africa. While international coalitions have largely succeeded in reducing the presence of piracy in that region, the activity has most recently emerged in other locations like Latin America and pockets of Asia. In this episode, we...

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Dec 09, 2019
Estonia’s E-Residency
33:27

As we become more and more dependent on the internet, basic notions such a person’s country of residence are shifting. Estonia is the first country in the world to introduce an eResidency program, which allows people living anywhere in the world the ability to enjoy the same opportunities and services as people who physically live...

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Nov 25, 2019
The International Relations of Video Games
58:52

In this episode, we discuss the impact of video games on international security and international relations. Video games have had a significant impact on critical topics in global affairs, such as anti-terrorism, cultural relations, and military training. Check out our conversation!

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Nov 18, 2019
A Conversation with EU Ambassador to the US Stavros Lambrinidis
34:18

Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis represents the interests of the European Union in Washington, DC. Ambassador Lambrinidis has held previous positions as the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the Greek Foreign Minister, and Vice-President of the European Parliament. In our discussion, Ambassador Lambrinidis provides insights into the EU’s relationship with the US, the positive contributions of...

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Nov 04, 2019
Made in Sweden: A Conversation with Elisabeth Asbrink
47:24

In this episode, we speak with author, Elisabeth Asbrink, who discussed her new book, Made in Sweden. Born and raised in Sweden to English and Hungarian parents, Elisabeth is an internationally renowned journalist, author, and playwright whose work has been translated into 19 languages. In her latest book, Elisabeth examines some of the unknown or...

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Oct 21, 2019
A Conversation with Ambassador Prudence Bushnell
43:33

In this episode, we speak with Ambassador Prudence Bushnell about her experience as a leading woman diplomat in the US foreign service. Amb. Bushnell provides an overview of the historical challenges for women in US diplomatic circles and offers an optimistic outlook for the future of women in US diplomacy. She also discusses her experience...

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Oct 07, 2019
Foreign Remittances
27:48

Each year, tens of millions of people migrate all over the world in search of safety, economic prosperity, or a better quality of life. Although split by national boundaries, many families still rely upon migrants for support, resulting in a global flow of money and remittances. In this episode, we will discuss foreign remittances and...

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Sep 30, 2019
Hawala Houses
30:37

Millions of people around the world do not have access to formal banking or means of transferring money across borders. A popular substitute is the “Hawala House,” an efficient and informal alternative money exchange system. In this episode, we explore this ancient form of banking that operates “off the books.” But while Hawala Houses boast...

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Sep 23, 2019
Spotlight: North Macedonia
20:38

In this episode, we take a close look at the country of North Macedonia. Once a part of the former Yugoslavia, North Macedonia changed its name in February 2019 after years of tensions with its neighbor Greece. It has faced a number of diplomatic conflicts with its neighbors–including Greece and Kosovo–while also dealing with internal...

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Sep 16, 2019
Cyber Trafficking
28:49

In this episode, we speak with former George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs graduate students, Mehmil Zia and Rubi Corral Hinojos, about their capstone project focusing on cyber trafficking in Mexico. In particular, they dissect how human traffickers leverage the internet to facilitate human trafficking in Mexico and across the border to the...

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Sep 09, 2019
Culinary Diplomacy
29:56

International relations are being conducted via digital communication more than ever. However, one aspect of international diplomacy has remained constant for thousands of years: the ceremony and tradition of sharing food and eating together. In this episode, we will explore the role of food in international relations, or as we will call it, culinary diplomacy....

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Sep 03, 2019
The Aftermath of Genocide: Reconciliation and Ignorance
36:44

In the sixth, and last, episode of our series on genocide, Again and Again, we discuss the aftermath of genocide. Throughout modern history, nations have taken vastly different approaches when attempting to “move on” from genocides. Some have established reconciliation policies that try to bring justice to the victims, while others have sought to ignore...

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Aug 26, 2019
Preventing Genocide
1:08:15

In the fifth (and penultimate) episode of our series on genocide, Again and Again, we speak with Dr. Matthew Levinger, Research Professor of International Affairs and Director of the National Security Studies Program at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, about genocide prevention. Dr. Levinger provides a framework for analyzing conflicts and...

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Aug 19, 2019
Propagandizing Genocide
46:57

In the fourth episode of our series on genocide, Again and Again, we speak with Theogene Rudasingwa, former Chief of Staff to Rwanda President Paul Kagame (2000-2004) and former Ambassador to the United States (1996-1999). Rudasingwa, now living in exile in the United States, speaks about how propaganda was used to intensify divisions within Rwanda...

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Aug 12, 2019
Forecasting and Preventing Genocide
33:02

In the third episode of our series on genocide, Again and Again, we talk about forecasting with Lawrence Woocher, research director at the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Woocher discusses the center’s Early Warning Project, which aims to contribute to the prevention of genocide by using...

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Aug 05, 2019
Lesser-Known Genocides
41:51

In the second episode of our series on genocide, “Again and Again,” we discuss the Circassian and Bangladeshi genocides of the 19th and 20th centuries, where nearly 3.5 million people were collectively murdered. Despite the large numbers of people murdered, we question why these genocides are lost into obscurity. Though cultural proximity and impact to...

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Jul 29, 2019
The Ten Stages of Genocide
52:37

The Ten Stages of Genocide is the first episode of our new series, Again and Again: A Series on Modern-Day Genocide. In this episode, we speak with Dr. Gregory Stanton, Chairman and Founding President of Genocide Watch and Professor at George Mason University, who provides an overview on the “Ten Stages of Genocide.” As Dr....

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Jul 22, 2019
Vanishing Fish: A Conversation with Dr. Daniel Pauly
41:57

In this episode, we speak with Dr. Daniel Pauly, an award-winning marine biologist at the University of British Colombia. Dr. Pauly speaks with us about his new book, Vanishing Fish: Shifting Baselines and the Future of Global Fisheries, which examines the world’s reserves of fish, commercial fisheries, and the various crises they both face.  PLEASE...

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Jun 17, 2019
Fentanyl
28:16

In 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency, often referred to as the opioid crisis. This crisis, which addresses the significantly imbalanced ratio of prescription drugs to the patient population, often overshadows the illicit side of this public emergency. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, which straddles the licit...

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May 20, 2019
Catalonia: A Conversation with Andrew Davis
39:16

In this episode, we speak with Andrew Davis of the Catalonia America Council about recent discussions and events surrounding the Catalonia’s relations with Spain. Mr. Davis provides background and context for the ongoing discussions regarding Catalonia’s status with Spain and its relationship with the Spanish government in Madrid. He also provides his thoughts on how...

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May 13, 2019
Spotlight: Estonia
26:40

Estonia is a small, high-tech country with democratic values and a capitalist economy. It is also seen as a pivotal player for NATO, especially in cyberspace. In this episode, we will detail Estonia’s background and history, examine its cyber relations with Russia, and discuss how it may impact NATO-Russian relations moving forward. Dig Deeper Take...

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May 06, 2019
Japan’s Emperor Akihito
29:44

Emperor Akihito of Japan is not your traditional emperor. In light of Akihito’s unconventional remarks hinting at a possible desire to abdicate, we spend this episode discussing the emperor’s place in Japanese government and culture. Dig Deeper Take a look at some of our favorite articles that we came across while researching Emperor Akihito: In Japan,...

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Apr 30, 2019
Invasive Species
48:50

As humans have migrated around the world throughout the centuries, they often brought with them various animals and plants to help colonize this planet. Whether intending to establish sources for food in otherwise barren landscapes or unleashing unknown stowaway creatures, humans have unwittingly caused countless invasions by other foreign organisms. In this episode, we discuss...

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Apr 22, 2019
Global Maternal Healthcare: A Study in Cultural Competency
35:27

In this episode, we speak with two recent graduate students from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University here in Washington, DC,  Prerna Balasundaram and Christina Parker, about their ongoing research on cultural competency in maternal global healthcare. As part of their end-of-degree capstone project, Prerna and Christina are researching how...

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Apr 08, 2019
Spotlight: Western Sahara
20:01

Western Sahara is a non-self-governing territory on the northwest coast of Africa. Bordered by Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria, the former Spanish colony has been under dispute since 1976. Ethnic tensions continue to erupt between the native Sahrawi population and Moroccan immigrants, and Morocco maintains a large security presence in the territory. In this episode, we...

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Apr 01, 2019
The World of Virtual Reality
28:54

Virtual reality–commonly referred to as VR–is an emerging technology that will become increasingly more sophisticated and widespread in the 5G era. VR can improve education, revolutionize healthcare, and even bolster security services. At the same time, however, VR is also be used for malignant purposes. In this episode, we explore the origins of VR, discuss...

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Mar 25, 2019
Global navigation satellite systems
30:22

GPS is a critical part of our everyday lives and underpins much of the infrastructure surrounding us. But the GPS satellite system is just one of a growing list of so-called global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) that can provide space-based positioning, navigation, and timing. In this episode, we explore how GPS fits into the larger...

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Mar 18, 2019
International Relations of the Amazon
38:09

The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, covering 40% of South America and spanning eight countries and one territory across the continent. It is home to a broad array of languages and cultures that must find a way to ensure a peaceful coexistence. In this episode, we explore the international relations of the eight countries...

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Mar 11, 2019
The Heart of Nuba: A Conversation With Doctor Tom Catena
32:38

In this episode, we speak with Dr. Tom Catena, the current Chair of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, about his work at the Mother Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountain region of Sudan. The people of Sudan’s Nuba Mountains have long been marginalized by the government of Sudan under the regime of Omar Al-Bashir. Since the...

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Feb 11, 2019
Spotlight: Lesotho
41:53

In this episode, we look into the history and current affairs of Lesotho, a country roughly size of Maryland that is landlocked in South Africa. Much of Lesotho’s history and culture has been shaped by its mountainous terrain, which historically served as a fortress from outside threats. Today,  the Lesotho highlands play an integral part...

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Feb 04, 2019
Olympic Terrorism
29:48

The Olympic Games have long been a symbol of sportsmanship and national pride. However, they can also be a target of terrorism. In this episode, we explore case studies of how organizations and nations have attempted to commit acts of terrorism in the context of Olympic Games. We will also examine how future Olympic hosts...

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Jan 28, 2019
Spotlight: Papua New Guinea
36:00

In today’s episode, we put a spotlight on the island nation of Papua New Guinea. PNG, bordering Indonesia and Australia on the edge of the south Pacific ocean, is defined by its diversity. Incredibly rich in resources and cultures, Papua New Guinea faces unprecedented challenges that many other nations do not face. In this episode,...

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Jan 14, 2019
Why Nations Fail
22:12

Professor Robinson joins us for a candid discussion about his book, ‘Why Nations Fail’. In it, he makes the case that the key differentiator between countries is “institutions.” Nations thrive when they develop “inclusive” political and economic institutions, and they fail when those institutions become “extractive” and concentrate power and opportunity in the hands of...

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Dec 05, 2018
Uncontacted Peoples
22:49

How far do the limits of modern society reach? What is “modern society,” and who belongs to it? What happens when states, organizations, and other members of the “connected world” come into contact with groups that may have little intersection with it? Should these groups be actively protected, thoroughly researched, or simply left alone? Follow...

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Dec 03, 2018
Emergency Warning Systems
35:49

Emergency warning systems are used by countries across the world to alert citizens about a variety of incidents, from natural disasters to military threats. Modern emergency warning systems are taking advantage of new technologies such as text messaging to ensure warnings reach the broadest possible audience. These systems, however, vary in their effectiveness and are...

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Nov 19, 2018
Ethiopia and Eritrea’s Sudden Peace
31:28

Ethiopia and Eritrea have been in near constant tension over the past several decades. In recent months, however, the two countries have ended their state of war and are working toward full normalization of relations. In this episode, we explore the history of conflict and tension between Ethiopia and Eritrea and then discuss the recent...

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Nov 05, 2018
Bride Trafficking
34:44

The term “mail order brides” does not often invoke similar connotations to human trafficking, but bride trafficking is just that. Victims of this trade are forced to marry men they don’t know from foreign countries that are sometimes thousands of miles away from their homes and families. While it is worth noting that this industry...

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Oct 29, 2018
National Apologies
29:30

Around the world, governments and nation-states have issued–and continue to issue–national apologies to victimized communities, populations, or countries. These apologies are often contentious and can cause ripple effects that influence foreign or domestic policies. In this episode, we discuss what qualifies as a “national apology,” look at why national apologies are issued, and examine whether...

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Oct 22, 2018
Water Scarcity
27:30

In this episode, we examine the growing issue of water scarcity that has begun to plague cities and regions around the world. From California to Cape Town to Sao Paulo, we assess the causes and effects of water scarcity, and also discuss what to expect in the future. Dig Deeper Take a look at some...

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Oct 08, 2018
Hello, Shadowlands – Organized Crime in Southeast Asia
44:58

In this episode, we speak with journalist Patrick Winn about his book, Hello, Shadowlands. Our conversation explores the various organized criminal groups, terrorist organizations, and even vigilante groups operating within Southeast Asian countries. Patrick provides insights into some of the causes of violence and drug trade in the region, describes the struggles of individuals caught...

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Oct 01, 2018
Australia’s Leadership Change
34:56

The top leadership job in Australia is like a revolving door: since 2007, not a single Prime Minister has been able to serve a full term. But why is this? Join us for a discussion on how the Australian political system, parties, and public all contribute to one of the toughest jobs in the Western...

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Sep 17, 2018
Ambassador Reuben Brigety on the African Union
25:21

Established in 2001, the African Union (AU) represents all African countries in the pursuit of economic development, human rights and security, and good governance. Africa is the youngest continent in the world with a booming population and several emerging economies, representing both immense potential and a serious challenge.  In this episode, guest speaker Ambassador Reuben...

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Sep 10, 2018
Afghanistan, Poppy, and Saffron
26:30

Afghanistan is the world’s largest supplier of heroin and opium. The Afghan government, United Nations, and other international stakeholders have tried endlessly to prevent Afghan farmers from growing poppy, the plant used to produce heroin, but farmers often find themselves in a situation where they are threatened with violence, or left with little means for...

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Aug 27, 2018
Sinking States
21:20

The U.S. Department of Defense calls climate change a threat multiplier, but for some countries it is an imminent and existential threat. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are particularly at risk, facing the possibility of their nations literally go under in the next few decades. Join us as we discuss who’s to blame, the future for...

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Aug 20, 2018
Sand Mafias
17:20

Organized criminal groups that deal in sand are perpetrating violence and undermining governments around the world. Sand is the world’s second most consumed natural resource and a critical component of the world’s construction and manufacturing industries. Some governments have attempted to regulate excessive sand dredging, which has led to the rise of black market “sand mafias.”...

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Aug 13, 2018
Spotlight: Urumqi
26:18

Positioned in China’s resource-rich northwestern region, the city of Urumqi is gaining strategic importance as China seeks to diversify its energy resources. However, ethnic and cultural tensions between the Chinese government and Uighur minority population continue to threaten the region’s stability. A Unique City Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang province, which borders eight countries...

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Aug 06, 2018
Space Traffic Management
41:11

Space is becoming more crowded. A growing number of governments are launching satellites each year, and companies like SpaceX and OneWeb plan to send thousands of satellites into orbit over the next several years. But as the number of satellites increases, does the world have a plan for manage space traffic? In this episode, guest...

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Jul 30, 2018
Spotlight: Cyprus
29:43

The island nation of Cyprus can be summed up in one word: divided. Since gaining independence from Great Britain in 1960, tensions between the ethnically Greek and Turkish sides of the island escalated to a Greek coup d’Etat attempt and invasion by Turkey in 1974. This conflict has resulted in the island being split, monitored,...

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Jul 18, 2018
Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance
39:59

Special guest Jamie Franklin, Executive Director of Mines Advisory Group America, joins us for a discussion on the post-war effects of land mines and campaigns to eliminate them.  The use of landmines is said to have first been used during the American Civil War in the 1800s and more widely during the Second World War. With...

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Jul 10, 2018
Unrecognized Countries
25:56

What makes a country a country? In this episode, we look at Transnistria, Taiwan, and Somaliland while exploring competing definitions of statehood. Differing Metrics of State Sovereignty The 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, which marked an end to Europe’s 30 Years War, established the modern western concept of statehood, or the idea that the nation-state is the...

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Jul 03, 2018
Zoos in Conflict Zones
18:50

One of the many stories that go untold in conflict zones is the fate of zoos and their animals. There are concerns for the animals’ safety as well as for humans if predatory animals escape. In this episode, we explore just a few examples of efforts to safeguard zoos during war. World War II The Ueno...

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Jun 26, 2018
The Nicaragua Canal
25:37

The Panama Canal’s opening in 1914 transformed global trade and fostered economic development in Panama. Today, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Chinese financier Wang Jing are trying to emulate its success by constructing a canal through Nicaragua. The Next Great Canal? President Ortega and Wang are spearheading the Nicaragua Canal proposal. If completed, the $50-80 billion project...

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Jun 19, 2018
Lost Nuclear Materials
39:26

As the world turns its focus toward nuclear proliferation issues in North Korea and Iran, the international community faces another critical threat: the loss or theft of nuclear materials. This episode explores security risks of lost or stolen nuclear materials, provides case studies to illustrate the threat, and details how countries are addressing this problem....

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Jun 12, 2018
Conflict in South Sudan
51:13

South Sudan has been plagued by a brutal civil war that has killed thousands and displaced millions, with violence threatening to spill into neighboring countries, Meanwhile, the international community has failed to work with the competing factions to agree to a sustainable peace agreement, as there is little hope for any lasting peace in the...

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Jun 05, 2018
Michael McFaul, former Ambassador to Russia
25:11

Michael McFaul, former Ambassador to Russia, joins us from Stanford for a conversation about his time serving during the Russian reset, what it’s like to be the target of a Russian disinformation campaign, and his new book, From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. McFaul served for five years in the Obama administration,...

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May 29, 2018
Tourism in North Korea
42:11

North Korea is notoriously isolated, but Daniel Wertz explains that the Hermit Kingdom in fact welcomes tourism – or at least tourist dollars. In this episode, our guest helps us understand what tourism looks like in North Korea and discusses the moral questions regarding tourism to the country.

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May 08, 2018
Spotlight: Mali
31:04

Following the death of three US soldiers in Nigeria, there has been a re-examination of the relationship between terrorism, Western intervention, and African nations. Given that Africa is seen as a strategic priority in preventing the spread of terrorism, we examine the history, current state, and future of Mali in this context.  Throughout the show,...

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Apr 30, 2018
Spotlight: Belarus
34:11

Today’s episode will feature a spotlight on Belarus only recognized as a country since 1991. Sandwiched between Russia and the European Union, Belarus is known as “Europe’s Last Dictatorship.” Its president, Alexander Lukashenko has held this position since being the first “democratically” elected president in 1994. Since then, Belarus has faced a sensitive diplomatic environment,...

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Apr 16, 2018
Human Rights and the Chocolate Industry
30:04

Nearly 70% of the world’s cocoa comes from western Africa, in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast. In order to fill the global demand for chocolate, thousands of small cocoa farms often rely on slavery and child labor. Children ranging in ages from 5-16 are sent by their families with promises of education...

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Mar 26, 2018
Understanding National Debt
30:50

Managing national debt is a significant issue that every country in the world must face. While media outlets often report on national debt with forecasts of doom and gloom, it is important to understand that national debt is very complex, and the effects of which, both good and bad, are numerous and far-reaching. What is...

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Mar 19, 2018
Myanmar and Mobile Phones
24:10

Myanmar is experiencing one of the world’s fastest rollouts of mobile phones. What are the political, social, and economic effects of the smartphone revolution in Myanmar? Changing the Political Scene The explosive growth of mobile phones, especially smart phones, in Myanmar over the past several years has helped shape the political scene. Myanmar’s new parliamentary republic...

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Mar 12, 2018
Governments in Exile
23:37

What is a government, and what are the essential elements for statehood? To what extent can sovereignty be disentangled from jurisdiction over territory? In this episode, we approach these enduring questions by focusing on a unique and under-appreciated player in the international community: governments in exile. We explore the causes of governments in exile, their...

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Mar 06, 2018
Unorthodox Illicit Financing
33:54

The global illicit trade and financing market is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, with smugglers and financiers engaging in unorthodox illicit dealings with goods like cigarettes and medicine. Several global initiatives have tried to stem the growing trend of illicit trade and financing to protect legitimate businesses and customers. Listen as we analyze a few...

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Feb 26, 2018
H.E. Omar Arouna, Ambassador of Benin to the United States
48:28

[su_quote cite=”Ambassador Omar Arouna”]People need to watch Benin — the future of Africa will go through Benin.[/su_quote] This episode originally aired in May 2016. Join us on our first installment of Conversations with Ambassadors as we sit down for a chat with Omar Arouna, the then Ambassador of the Republic of Benin to the United States, Mexico, and...

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Feb 07, 2018
Why the Arctic Matters
30:15

As the ice in the Arctic continues to melt, countries are staking claims and preparing for economic and military development in the region. This “new frontier” has promise of prosperity, yet is rife with geopolitical risk as competition for its resources heats up between world powers like the US, Russia, and China. In this episode,...

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Jan 30, 2018
Al-Qaeda’s Global Network
29:37

Al-Qaeda has pervaded international headlines for years, but how much do you really know about the Islamist militant group? In this episode, we explore how the group is organized, how it is decentralized across many countries, and  how it is funded. Structure Al-Qaeda has become somewhat decentralized over the years. It is not a monolithic organization...

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Jan 22, 2018
Blockchain Technology
18:42

Cryptocurrencies from Bitcoin to Ripple were hot topics in 2017, but how much do you understand how they work? Blockchain technology is a rapidly expanding industry that underpins these cryptocurrencies. As this data architecture grows, it may spread to transform how other sectors process and store data. This conversation on the blockchain was originally published in September...

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Jan 16, 2018
Asteroid Mining and the Outer Space Treaty
28:47

What do we get out of space?  What rules do countries use to ensure that everyone will “play fair” with the resources that might be out there? Will these rules truly ensure that countries will play fair in space, or will the same political dynamics that divide us here on Earth continue to plague us indefinitely out into...

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Jan 08, 2018
Foreign Policy of Pope Francis
13:26

What has made Pope Francis such a dynamic international figure who has captivated Catholic and non-Catholic audiences worldwide? In this episode, we explore key events that have shaped Pope Francis’ foreign policy.  Note: This episode was originally published in December 2016. Given the Pope’s recent comments regarding sensational media, we decided to re-post this episode to...

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Dec 18, 2017
Venezuela’s Shift from Chavismo
24:35

Note: this episode was originally published in February 2016. Given today’s announcement that Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro will not allow the main opposition parties to run in next year’s presidential election, we’ve decided to republish this episode to provide context to Venezuela’s political and economic struggles. Venezuela recently elected a majority-opposition legislature. Will the new...

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Dec 11, 2017
Organized Crime & New Technology
34:03

Organized crime groups are using new technology to stay steps ahead of authorities. In this episode, we discuss how criminal groups have used technology like cell towers, and how they may soon use technology like 3D printing.

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Nov 20, 2017
Universal Basic Income
29:54

What is universal basic income (UBI)? In this episode explore why people like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are advocating for UBI while others argue against it. What is It? Universal Basic Income generally refers to a form of social security in which every resident of a country receives a check from their government regardless of their income or...

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Oct 30, 2017
The Militarization of Space
30:44

As the world becomes more reliant on space-based capabilities for everyday use,  leaders across the world have expressed concern about the vulnerability of space assets. In this episode, we detail weaponized threats to space systems, military threats emanating from space, and efforts to mitigate such threats.  Land-Based and Space-Based Weaponry For decades, militaries have leveraged...

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Jul 21, 2017
Logistics of Peacekeeping Missions
38:09

From acquisition of equipment to finances and personnel, peacekeeping missions are massive, complicated endeavors. To help us understand the logistics peacekeeping missions and the partnerships that make them work, we spoke with Dr. Paul Williams, an expert on security, conflict resolution, and peacekeeping. For a more in depth analysis and policy recommendations, we recommend Dr....

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Jun 05, 2017
Understanding the Kashmir Conflict
25:10

The disputed region of Kashmir and Jammu has endured persistent conflict since Indian and Pakistani independence in 1947. Militancy and fears of nuclear escalation abound as both states and state-sponsored groups battle for control and influence in the area. A History of Conflict A Himalayan region bordering India, Pakistan, and China — Kashmir and Jammu was...

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May 30, 2017
Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s Female PM
28:44

Bangladesh is a country with a significant gender gap, steeped in patriarchal tradition. So it may come as a surprise that its Prime Minister is a woman. In this episode, we shine a spotlight on PM Sheikh Hasina. Sheikh Hasina, who is the daughter of Bangladesh’s first president, has been the leader of her party...

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May 22, 2017
Possible World-Changing Technologies
40:02

Which emerging technologies will become the next game-changers in the international arena? In this episode, we give an overview of three technologies could have significant impacts throughout the world: space-based solar power; artificial intelligence; and voice recognition and computer-based communication. Space-Based Solar Power The United States, China, and Japan are spearheading research and development efforts...

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May 08, 2017
Gun Control around the World
26:14

Gun control laws vary from country to country in rigor and effectiveness. In this episode, we explore how countries across the globe differ from the United States in their gun control policies. U.S. Gun Control With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, US citizens own roughly 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. It...

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Apr 04, 2017
Speaking with Finland’s Ambassador to the US, Kirsti Kauppi
41:13

What is Finland’s role in Europe and the broader global community? In this episode, we speak with Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi about Finland’s role in Europe, its relationship with Russia, and her career. US-Finnish Relations The Finnish mission to the United States fosters increased collaboration with the United States on several fronts. Finland is working to promote...

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Mar 27, 2017
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
26:06

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in Africa. This episode explores the dam’s potential benefits, development hurdles, and controversy. An Economic Boon for Ethiopia The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), located 40km east of Sudan on the Blue Nile River, is expected to be completed by summer 2017....

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Mar 07, 2017
Nuclear Deterrence Theory
27:59

Do more nuclear weapons make the world a safer place? Since 1945, nuclear weapons have underpinned the global balance of power. This episode explores the development and practice of nuclear deterrence. Foundation of Nuclear Deterrence Developed in the Cold War, the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine is the foundation of nuclear deterrence theory. MAD is the...

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Feb 07, 2017
The Meiji Restoration
39:11

This episode explores the origins of the Meiji Revolution, how it changed the Japanese society, and how it shaped regional and world dynamics.  A New Era For Japan 150 years ago, the Meiji Restoration restored the central governing power of the Japanese emperor and catapulted Japan into great power status. Japan had been governed under...

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Jan 31, 2017
NATO’s Evolving Security Environment
27:47

Since the start of the Cold War, NATO has been the world’s preeminent military alliance. However, escalating hostilities between NATO and Russia are creating geopolitical challenges for NATO members. In this episode, our friend and guest Rachel Rizzo discusses NATO’s changing security environment. An Intergovernmental Military Alliance NATO is a 28-member intergovernmental military alliance established in...

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Jan 03, 2017
Clean Energy in the Caribbean
24:28

Caribbean island nations are uniquely positioned to become leaders in renewable energy development. How can clean energy in the Caribbean increase energy reliability, lead to job growth, and help the environment?  Today’s guests, Andrew Polich and Chad Johnson from Vittoria Energy Expedition, help us explore the issue. The Caribbean’s Renewable Energy Potential Caribbean island nations have...

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Dec 26, 2016
Foreign Policy of Pope Francis
13:26

What has made Pope Francis such a dynamic international figure who has captivated Catholic and non-Catholic audiences worldwide? In this episode, we explore key events that have shaped Pope Francis’ foreign policy. Papal Election The Papal conclave elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio on February 28, 2013 following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Bergoglio (who took the...

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Dec 12, 2016
Hello Germany!
11:59

Hello, Germany! In this episode we briefly discuss how German history impacts its current struggles to cope with the refugee crisis, and ask our listeners there to tell us more about what’s going on in the country these days. send us an email to let us know what we missed, what we got wrong, and...

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Nov 14, 2016
Spotlight: Guyana
19:08

Tucked away in the northeast corner of South America, Guyana is often overshadowed by its larger neighbors Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia. However, the Guyanese are a diverse and resilient people who play an integral role in the region. Colonialism’s Impact Guyana’s colonial past contributed significantly to its diverse population. The Netherlands colonized Guyana in the...

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Nov 08, 2016
Finance Curse
22:00

How can a large influx of money into a country become a “curse” to its citizens? In this episode, we discuss how the finance curse can crash economies and upend livelihoods in developing nations. Finance Curse Versus Resource Curse In an earlier episode we discussed the resource curse, a phenomenon known where discovery of a natural...

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Nov 01, 2016
Halloween Special: Spooky Folklore and International Curses
16:33

In the spirit of Halloween, the Matters of State crew seeks to learn about some of the spookier events in international affairs. This episode presents various bits of folklore and curses from Ireland, Central Asia, Central Europe, and the United States that have purportedly made a significant impact on history. Disclaimer: the content of this...

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Oct 24, 2016
Uzbekistan at a Crossroads
14:16

Uzbekistan will soon make its first transition of power since it became an independent state more than 25 years ago. In this episode, we discuss expectations for Uzbekistan’s upcoming presidential election after the recent death of President Islam Karimov, and explore the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. The Power Transition Long-time president Karimov had ruled...

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Sep 26, 2016
The Resource Curse and the Paradox of Plenty
29:08

Does a nation’s economy suffer when it makes a large natural resource discovery? In this episode, we explore the economic and financial consequences associated with resource abundance with recent Elliott School graduate alumnus Josh Park. He explains the underlying factors of the “resource curse” phenomenon and how states can mitigate its harmful effects. Paradox of...

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Sep 12, 2016
The Horn of Africa
34:13

The Horn of Africa is one of the most complex, diverse, and conflict-afflicted regions in the world. While much of the region continues to be mired in violence and instability, it remains a nexus of global trading routes and is growing in geopolitical importance. The global community cannot ignore its fate. The States The Horn...

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Aug 29, 2016
MOOCs, International Education, and Diplomacy
20:50

As more people in the world gain internet access, global online education will continue to increase in scope and importance. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free, easily accessible courses covering an array of topics that are helping advance education for a global audience. An Educational Revolution? When early investors in educational technology companies established...

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Jul 25, 2016
Spotlight: Doctors without Borders
23:58

During periods of major disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and deadly conflicts, victims can count on one organization to come to their aid. Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), is an internationally focused non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides assistance to areas in critical need of medical care.  Born out of Unrest MSF formed in...

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Jul 18, 2016
The UN’s Next Secretary General
26:16

On December 31, 2016, Ban Ki Moon will end his term as UN Secretary General. As the UN General Assembly begins vetting candidates to replace him in the coming months, it has a historic opportunity to elect the first female Secretary General. Position Description and Application Process The UN General Secretary is the UN’s main...

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Jul 11, 2016
Colombia’s Human Trafficking Epidemic
36:25

As its conflict with the FARC rebel group comes to a close, the Colombian government faces another pressing humanitarian challenge. Rampant sex trafficking victimizes thousands of vulnerable, displaced, and poor Colombians. In this episode, we interview Garrett Suarez and David Medina about their field research on Colombian sex trafficking, government failures to combat it, and...

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Jul 04, 2016
Spotlight: Gwadar Port, a Chinese Foothold in Pakistan
18:27

In this episode we look at Gwadar port, a deep-sea port located in the Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan, along a strategic trade route in the Arabian Sea. A Chinese state-owned company, Overseas Ports Holding Company, signed a 40-year lease for the port in 2014 to advance China’s economic and trade interests in the region. Gwadar...

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Jun 27, 2016
OPEC in Crisis
26:01

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is a permanent, intergovernmental organization of 13 oil-exporting nations that coordinate petroleum policies of member states. OPEC has exercised large control of the global oil market since its inception in 1960. However, it is now confronting major challenges, including changes to the global oil market and tensions between member...

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Jun 21, 2016
Population Structure and its Effects on Stability
30:05

How can demographics positively or negatively impact a country’s economic growth and national security? In this episode, we discuss how an unbalanced age or gender structure can be a boon or a curse for stability. Dig Deeper Take a look at some of our favorite articles that we came across while researching population structure and...

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May 27, 2016
Thoughts on the International Criminal Court
25:27

In this episode, we examine the International Criminal Court (ICC). We briefly touch on the history of the ICC, what the court is intended to do, and a recent expansion in what kinds of cases the court considers. We also discuss some of the weaknesses and criticisms of the ICC, particularly the fact that all of...

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Apr 25, 2016
Exploring Global Gender
33:10

What is the difference between sex and gender? How do prescribed gender roles and other social constructions of gender harm everyone? Can we even approach these issues through the standard “international affairs” lens that we normally use here at Matters of State? Join us as we sit down with our special friend and guest, Camry Haskins, to explore gender as...

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Apr 12, 2016
Hello Cambodia!
16:36

Hello Cambodia! We noticed that the last few episodes had an increase in listeners in Cambodia, so we decided to shout out to you directly! In this episode, we briefly discuss the history of Cambodia into the present day, and ask our listeners there to tell us more about what’s going on in the country these days....

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Apr 07, 2016
Spotlight: Comoros
27:10

Maybe you’ve at least heard of most countries around the world. But have you ever heard of Comoros? This small island nation east of Africa and north of Madagascar has had an outsized impact on international trade and the the history of its region. Today’s Comoros has a complex political system and a rich diversity...

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Mar 09, 2016
International Law and the Use of Force
33:03

Who decides when it might be appropriate for a country to intervene in another conflict? Is there an international consensus on when it is acceptable to use force? Join us as we tackle these complex issues in today’s episode, “International Law and Use of Force.” For reference: CHAPTER VII: Action with Respect to Threats to...

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Mar 02, 2016
Nairobi’s Slums and Urbanization Challenges
37:43

Up to one billion people live in slums around the world and the numbers are only expected to rise.[1. The number of people  living in slums varies widely from source to source, but the UN has reported up to one billion. There is greater consensus on the fact that the numbers are rapidly increasing. http://www.un.org/en/globalissues/briefingpapers/cities/vitalstats.shtml] In...

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Feb 22, 2016
Wildlife Trafficking
30:13

Did you ever think that animals (and other lifeforms for that matter) could be trafficked like they were illegal drugs? In fact, some of the same people, networks, routes and tactics are involved in this massive illicit trade. Join us as we discuss the motivations, methods, and consequences of wildlife trafficking in this week’s episode. Digging...

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Jan 26, 2016
What Motivates Terrorism?
30:40

The media has a lot to say about Islamist terrorism, but what else motivates terrorism around the world?

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Nov 23, 2015
Democracy and Development in Rwanda
22:26

Rwanda has been lauded as a development success and a role model for Sub-Saharan Africa, but critics suggest that this development has come at the expense of healthy democratic governance. Kagame’s Rwanda is an excellent case study for a broader question in international development: does democratic change lead to development, or does development lead to...

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Nov 11, 2015
Spotlight: Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej
26:33

This week, we  debut our Spotlight series. Unlike in our traditional round table discussions, the spotlight series will allow us to occasionally choose an interesting figure, location, or phenomenon to discuss. This episode’s figure is the world’s longest-reigning monarch alive: King Bhumibol Adulyadej. We start from his birth in the United States, move to his unexpected...

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Nov 04, 2015
Illicit Oil Networks, ISIL, and the World
28:50

Most of us are familiar with ISIL’s use of oil smuggling, but how do they do it? Who facilitates and who buys the oil? What other regions around the world are also seeing oil smuggling. Some of them are closer to home than you might have imagined. Join us as we invite our good friend Siree...

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Oct 26, 2015
India’s Fence around Bangladesh
11:57

More and more countries are fencing off their borders in an attempt to curb illegal immigration and smuggling. In this episode, we talk about how India has fenced off almost its entire border with Bangladesh – one of the longest borders in the world. Why does India feel that it needs a fence? How does...

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Oct 12, 2015
Mexico’s Drug Cartels
29:09

We’ve heard a lot about the drug wars in Mexico. We’ve even become familiar with the cartels that wage them- their names, territories and sagas given ample play in US media. But how much do we know about what drives the violence and keeps it aflame? In what ways are the cartels able to innovate...

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Oct 05, 2015
Engaging North Korea
29:05

North Korea is often called “The Hermit Kingdom” because of its isolation from the rest of the world, but is it really completely isolated? How much interaction does North Korea have with outsiders, and who does it interact with? What forms does this interaction take, and what does it accomplish? Can we see clearly enough into...

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Sep 28, 2015
The World’s Syrian Refugee Crisis
30:37

4 million Syrians are now refugees, and the war has displaced half of the country’s population. Should states take in more of those who are fleeing war, or are they right to close their borders? What could the influx of refugees mean for the future of the EU and for the political climate of EU member states? And,...

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Sep 21, 2015
Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis
17:13

Greece has received an overwhelming glut of attention over the summer for its financial woes, but the brewing debt crisis in Puerto Rico seems to have been underhyped. What consequences might Puerto Rico’s financial predicament have for the US? How has Puerto Rico’s unique status as a US Territory contributed to its economic stability? Could...

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Sep 14, 2015
Introduction
42

Thanks for joining us! We’ll be launching our first episode next week, so subscribe now. Matters of State is a new podcast by young professionals in DC that will focus on under-reported aspects of issues in international relations. We also encourage you to get in touch with us on facebook, tweet us your show ideas @mattersOstate, poke...

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Sep 08, 2015