Monocle 24: The Foreign Desk-logo

Monocle 24: The Foreign Desk


Monocle foreign editor Steve Bloomfield tackles some of the world’s biggest issues, featuring in-depth analysis and interviews with global leaders.

Monocle foreign editor Steve Bloomfield tackles some of the world’s biggest issues, featuring in-depth analysis and interviews with global leaders.
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Monocle foreign editor Steve Bloomfield tackles some of the world’s biggest issues, featuring in-depth analysis and interviews with global leaders.




Soft-power special

As Monocle’s annual Soft Power Survey hits newsstands, Andrew Mueller asks what countries can offer their international partners beyond trade and guns – or just the cold shoulder. Whether it’s sport, music, food, technology or a quick trip into space, soft power can (if deployed correctly) win hearts, minds and new allies.


Explainer 141: Is Merkel's departure a blow to liberal democracy?

As soon as Angela Merkel announced her exit from politics, international media were reporting the end of democracy as we know it – the final nail in the coffin of political decency. But, as our Berlin correspondent Kati Krause explains, it's nowhere near that bad. In fact, it's quite the opposite.


The Trump effect

Last week’s midterms saw the election of record-breaking numbers of women and breakthroughs for minorities. Might Trump’s legacy be turning the US into everything his supporters like least – and fear most? Andrew Mueller is joined by former deputy homeland security adviser Amy Pope, UCL’s Jeffrey Howard and US Naval War College professor Tom Nichols.


Explainer 140: Floral tributes

Every year the Royal British Legion, a charity that supports members and veterans of the British armed forces, raises money by selling poppies in remembrance of those who have died during service. Andrew Mueller explores how a well-meaning charity fundraiser has become yet another frontline in the 21st century’s culture wars.


Why ambassadors still matter

Despite being the world’s most powerful country, the US has dozens of vacant ambassadorships in the capitals of some of its most important allies. Does the current administration’s disregard for America’s foreign service signal a shift in global attitudes to diplomacy, when picking up the phone for a direct government-to-government chat has never been easier? Andrew Mueller is joined by John Everard, Chas Freeman and Tiina Intelmann to discuss the importance of diplomatic missions.


Explainer 139: Trump’s predictable October surprise

Although the group of asylum seekers travelling towards the US from Central America is real, the threat they pose to American citizens is not. With only a few days until the midterm elections, it doesn't take a political scientist to work out why Donald Trump has decided that now is the time to react – by sending more than 5,000 troops to the border with Mexico. Andrew Mueller asks why voters keep buying Trump’s lies.


Xinjiang: China’s captive province

China does a good job of keeping its Uyghur minority out of international headlines. But, as more stories of huge numbers of Uyghurs incarcerated in detention centres emerge, so do less-than-convincing excuses from Beijing. What do the Uyghurs want that China fears so much? And could this type of persecution spread to China’s other ethnic and religious minorities? Andrew Mueller is joined by Isabel Hilton, Megha Rajagopalan, Gene A Bunin and Dolkun Isa.


Explainer 138: What does the Wentworth by-election mean for Australia’s conservatives?

In an historic upset, Australia’s governing coalition lost its one-seat parliamentary majority following a by-election in the Sydney electorate of Wentworth. Andrew Mueller explains why this comes as a shock, and asks if Australian conservatism has wandered deep into the ideological weeds.


Saudi Arabia vs the world

When news broke earlier this month of the disappearance and alleged murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi the outcry was appropriately loud. But what about the war in Yemen, the human rights abuses, the support for terrorism around the world? These were seen more as inconveniences to global powers that wanted to do business with the House of Saud. Andrew Mueller, Bill Law, Rosemary Hollis and Shadi Hamid ask if, this time, the Saudis have gone too far – and what that could mean.


Explainer 137: Who will run against Trump in 2020?

The US midterms are only a few weeks away but Democrats seem just as concerned about who could go head to head with Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. What’s certain is that local media is enjoying the guessing game. Ed Stocker, our Americas editor at large, asks who – if anyone – has what it takes.


Can Brexit be stopped?

Time is running out to reach a deal on what will happen when the UK leaves the EU in March – but as negotiators get ready for the next set of talks this week, campaigners are calling for another referendum. Can – and should – Brexit be stopped? We’re joined by Crispin Blunt MP, Thomas Cole, Amelia Hadfield and European newsroom editors to find out.


Explainer 136: Why did Nikki Haley resign?

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, quit this week in what was, to many, a shock announcement. Along with speculation as to why, the question of who will replace her remains unanswered. Andrew Mueller gazes into his crystal ball.


Iraq: is the future here at last?

Just over 15 years since the US and UK invaded Iraq with a promise to remove Saddam Hussein and install democracy, the country is still struggling. Internal divisions and external interference aren’t making things any easier – but can a newly agreed government lead Iraq towards a thriving future? Andrew Mueller is joined by Alex MacDonald, Jane Araff, Renad Mansour and Yanar Mohammed.


Explainer 135: How is Canada pushing its feminist foreign policy?

In Montréal at the end of last month, Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland and the EU’s commissioner of foreign affairs Federica Mogherini co-hosted a meeting of the world’s women foreign ministers – the first meeting of its kind to have been held for 20 years. Monocle’s Toronto bureau chief, Tomos Lewis, reports.


The war on drugs: time to surrender?

Canada will shortly become the next of only a handful of countries to legalise recreational marijuana. How will this affect the illegal drug traders who remain untouchable to the governments trying to stop them? Andrew Mueller is joined by Misha Glenny, Lizzie Porter and Jodie Emery.


Explainer 134: Naming Macedonia

After more than 30 years the naming dispute between Macedonia and Greece could finally be over. But, as Monocle’s news editor Peter Firth explains, the final hurdle – a referendum this weekend – could send the whole process back to the start.


Autonomous weapons and the future of war

Advances in military technology pose profound questions of morality and law – as well as opportunity on the battlefield. But what happens when (and the time is not far off) weapons can think for themselves? Andrew Mueller is joined by former fighter pilot Missy Cummings, philosopher of technology Peter Asaro and former US General John R Allen.


Explainer 133: What is the significance of Mexico City’s mariachi murders?

Five people were killed after three men dressed as mariachi musicians started shooting in a busy tourist area in Mexico City. The capital has largely escaped the violence of other regions but is this changing? And will president-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador be able to bring the spike in violent crime rates under control?


Brazil’s baffling ballot

The lead-up to next month’s elections has been nothing short of extraordinary, even by Brazilian standards. But the results should not be overlooked given that the victor will take charge of South America’s biggest economy. Who will win – and can they clean up Brazil’s politics?


Explainer 132: The EU vs Viktor Orban

This week, MEPs voted in favour of unprecedented disciplinary action against Hungary over alleged breaches of the EU's core values. Prime minister Viktor Orban has been accused of attacking the media and refusing refugees, as well as promoting anti-Semitism and the death penalty. So what are the EU’s options – and what are the risks of implementing them?