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The Spectator Podcast: Angela’s ashes

28 June 2018

2:42 PM

28 June 2018

2:42 PM


As anti-migrant sentiment sweeps across Europe, is the continent turning against Angela Merkel for her open-door policy, and is this the end of Merkel? Meanwhile, Donald Trump announced his new mission – to establish a sixth branch of the US military, the Space Force. Is this such a bad idea? And last, while it may be greedy and corrupt, should Fifa be celebrated for making the World Cup truly global?

Angela Merkel is struggling. On the continent, anti-migrant sentiment is being whipped up by leaders like Austria’s Sebastian Kurz and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. At home, her re-election results were less than ideal and her coalition partner has pushed for a firmer stance on migration. Is this the end of the Merkel project? In this week’s cover piece, economist and writer Fredrik Erixon argues that she’s on fragile footing. He joins the podcast with Stefan Kornelius, journalist and author of Merkel’s Authorised Biography. Stefan argues that Merkel has had no choice but to opt for the open-door on migration:

‘It’s a pure matter of economics. If you shut down European borders, you shut down the freedoms, you shut down trade, and well, labour in the European Union, which is a lifeline to Germany… It’s not about some fluffy European emotion.’


Next, as he fixes the US’s economy, society, and press, Donald Trump is now turning his sights skywards. His next mission is to establish another branch of the US Armed Forces – the Space Force. Pundits have lampooned the idea and the military establishment are dragging their feet, but Christopher Buckley asks, is this such a bad idea? After all, Russia and China are still racing for military dominance in space. Christopher joins the podcast with Jacqueline Klimas, national security correspondent for Politico. But even if it’s a good idea, Christopher says what many feel in Washington:

‘The President labours under the delusion, or more politely, the illusion, that this is North Korea, and that you can simply add a department of government by saying, “I want it”. In fact, creating a sixth branch of the Armed Services requires legislations. It requires a Senate vote. So you can’t just snap your fingers and say, “make it happen”.’

As England kicks its way closer to the World Cup trophy, this week we reminisce about Jules Rimet, the World Cup Founder, and his original vision for the games. He envisaged a global World Cup that could cut through political enmity. Despite Fifa’s deep-rooted corruption, it might actually achieve this in 2026, with the opening up of the tournament to 48 teams, so argues sports journalist Tim Wigmore. Tim joins the podcast with Freddy Gray, our Deputy Editor. Freddy isn’t sure that Fifa deserves so much credit:

‘I think they’re starting with a much better product than a lot of sports, for a global sport. Rugby and cricket just don’t translate as well as football does. I mean rugby is far too into physical suffering and homo-erotic for a lot of cultures, and cricket is far too complex.’

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