radio / Encounter

Join host Carol Castiel each week as she and two advocates from the world of politics, public policy, or academia discuss and debate a critical issue in the news, bringing depth, perspective, and insight to the world around us. Issues that affect our lives and global stability are debated in a free-wheeling, unscripted discussion of fact and opinion.

May 24, 2013


US POLITICS: OBAMA'S SECOND TERM BLUES? Veteran political analysts Stuart Rothenberg, Editor and Publisher of “The Rothenberg Political Report” and John Fortier, Director of Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, take a historic look at second-term presidents and discuss to what extent a spate of recent controversies threatens to derail President Obama’s political agenda during his second and final term in office.

May 17, 2013


US-RUSSIA On the anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s return to the Russian presidency, host Carol Castiel talks with Helle Dale, senior fellow in Public Diplomacy Studies at the Heritage Foundation and Andrew Kuchins, senior fellow and director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at CSIS, about the ups and downs in the US-Russia relationship since Putin returned to the helm as well as efforts to reconcile differences on a variety of issues from counter-terrorism (Boston Marathon bombings case) to Syria (joint efforts to stage a peace conference in Geneva), to the recent spy incident.

May 10, 2013


SYRIA CONUNDRUM As US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, ramp up efforts to promote a political transition in Syria, guest host Doug Bernard elicits contrasting views on how to end the bloodshed from Paul Pillar, Visiting Professor at Georgetown University for Security Studies and a member of the Center for Peace and Security Studies and Mahmoud Khattab, Chairman of the Syrian American Alliance.

May 03, 2013


PAKISTAN ELECTION PREVIEW Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistan ambassador to the US, and former High Commissioner of Pakistan to the UK, and Daniel Markey, Senior Fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations discuss with host Sarah Zaman, TV Reporter of VOA’s Urdu Service a potential outcome of Pakistan’s general election, and the future of the US-Pakistani relations.

April 26, 2013



Charles “Cully” Stimson, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and Matt Duss, policy analyst for the Middle East at the Center for American Progress, discuss with host Carol Castiel the latest developments in the Boston Marathon bombings case, including the motives of suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the revelation that they intended to target New York City.

April 19, 2013



John Fortier, director of the Democracy Project at the Bi-Partisan Policy Center and Sarah Trumble, an expert on domestic policy at the centrist think tank, Third Way, talk with host Carol Castiel about the latest developments on gun control and immigration reform efforts in the US Senate and the politics of these issues, which are key components of President Obama’s second term domestic agenda.

April 12, 2013



Restoration of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Israel and the ceasefire announced by jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan – both prompted in part by the deteriorating situation in Syria – bode well for Turkish domestic and international politics. Host Carol Castiel talks with Soner Cagaptay, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Matt Duss, policy analyst for the Middle East at the Center for American Progress about the reasons behind and implications of these two diplomatic breakthroughs.

April 05, 2013



Bruce Klingner, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and Alexandre Mansourov, a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS speak with host Carol Castiel about the significance and implications of escalating rhetoric and threats emanating from North Korea against the United States and South Korea.

April 01, 2013



As US President Barack Obama nominates the first female to head the male-dominated Secret Service, and in honor of women’s history month, Shari Bryan, Vice President at the National Democratic Institute and Judith Warner, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, discuss the progress and setbacks (sexual attacks and gang rape) affecting the status of women in the United States and the developing world.

March 22, 2013



Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and Ghaith al-Omari, Executive Director at the America Task Force on Palestine assess the politics and substance of President Obama’s recent trip to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan with host Carol Castiel, including prospects for reviving peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians and points of convergence and divergence between Tel Aviv and Washington on the Syrian conflict and Iran’s nuclear program.

March 15, 2013



Jason Healey, Director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council and Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Partner at the Monument Policy Group, discuss cyber security in the wake of the growing cyber hacking threat, mostly from China, with host Carol Castiel. Healey and Herrera-Flanigan discuss the significance in the Obama Administration’s policy shift toward more direct and public criticism of China as well as other measures being considered to combat cyber espionage and potential attacks on US vital infrastructure.

March 08, 2013



Eric Farnsworth, Vice President of the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society and Ray Walser, Senior Policy Analyst specializing in Latin America at The Heritage Foundation, discuss the legacy of Hugo Chavez with host Carol Castiel and what his death means for the future of Venezuela and US – Venezuela relations.

March 01, 2013



Richard Downie, Deputy Director and fellow with the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Bronwyn Bruton, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, preview the issues and continuing tribal tensions in the upcoming Kenyan elections with host Carol Castiel. They discuss implications for U.S. policy in Kenya and the region in the first election since the 2007 vote devolved into ethnic violence.

February 22, 2013



Alex Vatanka, non-resident Scholar at the Middle East Institute, and Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, preview next week’s crucial talks with world powers in Almaty, Kazakhstan over the Islamic Republic’s controversial nuclear program as well as discuss the political stakes and implications of Iran’s upcoming presidential election (June) with host Carol Castiel.

February 15, 2013



The use of drones and targeted killing, key elements of the Obama Administration’s counter-terrorism strategy, have come under growing public scrutiny and criticism due to the program’s increasing lack of transparency and oversight. On this edition of Encounter, Danya Greenfield, Deputy Director of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, and Thomas Lynch, Distinguished Research Fellow for South Asia and the Near East at the National Defense University, spar over the scope and the future of the drone program as the United States seeks to balance both national security concerns and civil liberty values.

February 08, 2013



Having garnered 70 % of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 elections, US President Barack Obama, along with a bi-partisan group of senators, are motivated more than ever to propose a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws. On this edition of Encounter hosted by Carol Castiel, Lia Parada, Legislative Director at the pro-immigration reform group “America’s Voice” spars with Jon Feere, Legal Policy Analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies over the substance and politics of immigration reform.

February 01, 2013



In the aftermath of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, the Obama administration and the US Congress have proposed a series of measures to curb gun violence. Jim Kessler, co-founder and Senior Vice President for Policy at Third Way, and Harry L. Wilson, Director of the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College and author of “Guns, Gun Control, and Elections: The Politics and Policy of Firearms,” spar over the prospects for and impediments to federal gun laws with host Carol Castiel.

January 25, 2013



Host Carol Castiel talks with William Lawrence, North Africa Director for the International Crisis Group, and J. Peter Pham, Director of the Africa Program at the Atlantic Council, about French and allied efforts to combat al Qaida linked militants in Northern Mali, the recent hostage crisis in Algeria and what steps must be taken by the international community, especially by regional players, to help Mali regain its sovereignty and to defeat al Qaida linked militants throughout the Maghreb and West African region.

January 18, 2013



William Cummings, Professor at George Washington University and an expert in International Education and Development, and Adam Hersh, Economist at the Center for American Progress discuss the US education system vis a vis China’s and India's highly educated and increasingly skilled workforce in the new, competitive global economy, with host Sarah Zaman, Urdu TV reporter.

January 11, 2013



Host Jim Malone, VOA Senior National Correspondent talks with John Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project at the Bi-Partisan Policy Center, and Nathan Gonzales, Deputy Editor of the Rothenberg Political Report about the new US Congress, its priorities, challenges , and what to expect in relations between lawmakers and President Barack Obama in the months ahead.

January 05, 2013



From the campus of Georgetown University, host Carol Castiel talks with Carol Lancaster, Dean of the School of Foreign Service, and Anthony Clark Arend, Professor of Government and Foreign Service about the myriad challenges – from Iran, to Syria, to Afghanistan to Southeast Asia – that face President Obama during his second term. Professors Lancaster and Arend discuss how political gridlock and fiscal constraints at home hamper the US role on the world stage and the extent to which a second-term president has more leeway and leverage in the foreign policy arena.

December 28, 2012



President Obama’s re-election against daunting odds, mass shootings across America, same-sex marriage, the politics of Benghazi and the Syrian crisis are just some of the top stories of 2012 that host Carol Castiel discusses with veteran journalists Richard Wolffe, Political Analyst at MSNBC and Said Arikat, Washington Correspondent for “Al Quds Daily Newspaper.”

December 21, 2012



Was the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut a “game changer” in the debate over stricter gun laws in the United States? Will the National Rifle Association or NRA continue to oppose concrete measures such as a ban on military assault rifles and stronger background checks to combat the epidemic of gun violence in America? Jim Kessler, co-founder and Senior Vice President for Policy at Third Way, and Gregg Carter, professor of sociology at Bryant University and author of numerous books about gun violence, tell host Carol Castiel that the NRA will continue to be a formidable obstacle, but are hopeful that a coalition of gun control advocates, spearheaded by President Obama’s new taskforce, may challenge their political and monetary clout.

December 14, 2012



David Waskow, Climate Change Director at Oxfam America and Andrew Light, Senior Fellow and Director of International Climate Policy the Center for American Progress speak with host Carol Castiel about what was achieved (and not achieved) at the latest round of UN climate talks in Doha and the challenges ahead for both developed and developing countries in forging a consensus on addressing the causes and consequences of climate change.

December 07, 2012



Will Afghan security forces be ready to take over after US combat troops withdraw in 2014? What is the status of “talks” with the Taliban? How significant are the upcoming 2014 presidential elections in Afghanistan? Akmal Dawi, Managing Editor for VOA’s Dari Radio Service, and Ahmad Majidyar, senior research associate for South Asia at the American Enterprise Institute, discuss these issues with host Carol Castiel in addition to the pivotal roles of the United States, Pakistan, and Iran in the region.

November 30, 2012



Alexis Arieff, Africa Analyst at the Congressional Research Service, and Raymond Gilpin, director of the Center for Sustainable Economies at U.S. Institute of Peace discuss the ongoing conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo with host Carol Castiel. They explore the political and economic roots and ramifications of the violence in the Eastern DRC, what drives the rebel forces (M23) and their alleged patrons in Rwanda, the perceived incompetence and corruption in Kinshasa, and what the international community must do to contain the conflict lest it spill over destabilize the region anew.

November 23, 2012



The Paris-based International Energy Agency predicts that the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. Energy analysts David Goldwyn, former senior advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now President of Goldwyn Global Strategies, and Daniel J. Weiss, Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress, discuss the domestic and geopolitical ramifications of the surge in oil and gas production in the United States with host Carol Castiel.

November 16, 2012



In keeping with his pivot to the Pacific, US President Barack Obama travels to Southeast Asia for the East Asia Summit in Cambodia. He will also make a historic stop in Burma, being first sitting American President to do so. Will the trip help to reinforce and accelerate the reform process in Burma or is the visit premature as some human rights advocates assert. Will the visit antagonize the Chinese who see America’s pivot as threat to their hegemony? What’s on the agenda at the East Asia Summit and to what extent will tensions over the South China Sea, of great importance to ASEAN nations, be addressed? Host Carol Castiel discusses this and more with East Asia specialists Patrick Cronin, Senior Director and advisor of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) and Catharin Dalpino, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy under President Clinton, now a visiting scholar in Southeast Asia Studies at John’s Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

November 09, 2012



John Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project at the Bi-Partisan Policy Center, and David Wasserman, editor of the Cook Political Report, discuss with host Carol Castiel President Obama’s victory and Mitt Romney’s defeat, the make-up of the new 113th Congress, and to what extent President Obama’s victory and Democratic pick-ups in the Senate and the House of Representatives, mean he has more leverage with Congress.

November 02, 2012


MAIL, SOMALIA, AND ALGERIA Once a stable democracy, Mali is struggling to survive as the north falls prey to extremist elements linked to al Qaida. Once written off as a failed state, Somalia shows signs of hope and progress. Jennifer Cooke, Director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Peter Pham, Director of Michael S. Ansari Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, discuss the challenges in both nations and whether or not Algeria will back an emergency military intervention in Mali --- with host Carol Castiel.

October 26, 2012


DAVID LAMPTON, Director of China Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and DEAN CHENG, Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, preview the upcoming 18th NATIONAL CONGRESS OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY IN CHINA and discuss the future of US-China relations after the US presidential election with host Carol Castiel.

October 19, 2012


What’s behind the selection of the EUROPEAN UNION as the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize? What is the future of the Eurozone as Greece teeters on the brink of bankruptcy? Host Carol Castiel explores these and other issues with JOHN SITILIIDES, advisor on diplomacy in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean region to the State Department and CHARLES KUPCHAN, author, professor and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

October 12, 2012


What is the likelihood that international sanctions will force Iranian officials to rein in the country’s nuclear program, stave off an Israeli military strike, and return to the negotiating table? What impact are sanctions and the devaluation of the currency having on the population and Iran’s leaders? Host Carol Castiel asks Judith Yaphe, distinguished research fellow for the Middle East at the National Defense University, and Alex Vatanka, scholar at the Middle East Institute, about these issues as well as about how Iran has become a significant foreign policy issue in the US presidential campaign.

October 05, 2012


John Fortier, Director of the Democracy Project at the Bi-Partisan Policy Center, and Michael Franc, Vice President for Government Studies at the Heritage Foundation, analyze the style and substance of the first of three presidential debates with host Carol Castiel and discuss how it affects President Barack Obama’s and Governor Mitt Romney’s respective fortunes and strategies in the run-up to the election.

September 28, 2012


Ambassador David Shinn, former ambassador to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso, currently a professor of International Affairs at George Washington University, and Jennifer Cooke, Director of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies discuss the leadership transitions in Ethiopia and Somalia --- with host Carol Castiel.

September 21, 2012


What are the factors leading to riots throughout the Muslim world, ostensibly sparked by the anti-Islam video, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has denounced as “reprehensible?” Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) Washington Correspondent Nadia Bilbassy and Jytte Klausen, professor of Comparative Politics at Brandeis University and author of “The Cartoons which Shook the World,” discuss with host Carol Castiel the concept of free speech in America as well as the complex set of cultural and political factors at play that helped to fuel the anti-American protests.

September 14, 2012


Even as the new UN/Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, visits Syria, analysts remain pessimistic about a diplomatic solution to the conflict, which has morphed into civil war. Joseph Holliday, former US intelligence officer, now senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, and Mona Yacoubian, Senior Middle East Advisor at the Stimson Center, discuss the military balance of forces between the Assad regime and armed opposition, obstacles to a unified opposition, the increasing sectarian nature of the war (Sunni/Shia divide), regional spillover and US policy options with host Carol Castiel..

September 07, 2012


On this edition of Encounter, Judd Legum, vice president for communications at the liberal Center for American Progress and Michael Franc, vice president of governmental studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, compare and contrast the recently concluded Republican and Democratic national conventions with host Carol Castiel and preview the challenges that face their respective candidates as they hit the campaign trail in earnest.

August 31, 2012


As Republicans wrap up their national convention, polls indicate they still lag the Democrats in capturing the Latino vote, in part due to their stance on immigration reform. Ali Noorani, Executive Director for the National Immigration Forum and Israel Ortega, Spanish Media Associate at the Heritage Foundation, spar over the substance and politics of immigration reform in this election year.

August 24, 2012


What does the uptick in so-called green on blue attacks mean for the US strategy in Afghanistan? Lisa Curtis, senior research fellow with the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation and Ahmad Majidyar, Senior Research Associate for South Asia and the Middle East at the American Enterprise Institute, discuss with host Carol Castiel the many possible reasons behind the “insider “ attacks and analyze the political and strategic impact on coalition forces as they prepare to drawdown by 2014.

On the go? Subscribe to a Podcast of the show
We Want To Hear From You

Please contact us via email, letter, Facebook or Twitter! Follow the links below and tell us what you think of guests, our recent shows and who you would like us to interview in the future.
Postal Mail:
Voice of America - PCUSA
Washington, D.C. 20237 USA

And follow our host Carol Castiel on Twitter:

Carol Castiel is also the host of  Press Conference USA and co-produces Issues in the News with Ania Zalewski at the Voice of America.
Broadcast Schedule
Encounter is broadcast on Saturdays and Sundays. You can also listen to us via affiliate stations in your area. Check your local radio station guide for more information.
  • Saturdays: 0330 0930 1430 1800 and 2330 UTC
  • Sundays:   0530  1230 1730 1930 UTC
This Week's Featured Video: Host Carol Castiel talks to Georgetown University Professors Ambassador Mark Lagon and  Professor Tony Arend about the US foreign policy priorities for 2014.    (January 5, 2014)

Carol Castiel

Meet Our Host
As Director of Current Affairs Programming in VOA's English Division, Carol Castiel is responsible for producing Press Conference USA, Encounter, and Issues in the News.  Carol moderates and produces Press Conference USA and Encounter. She also oversees the production of Issues in the News, VOA’s roundup of the week’s top stories by distinguished Washington journalists.

Before joining the Voice of America, Carol was a consultant/freelance journalist specializing in the promotion of trade and investment between the United States and Africa. She was also a contributing editor to the London-based West Africa Magazine. Carol is fluent in Portuguese, French, and Spanish. She holds an M.A. degree in International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Other Current Affairs Programs:

Issues in the news -Prominent Washington correspondents discuss topics making headlines around the world.
Press conference Host Carol Castiel and other panelists interview best-selling authors, analysts, politicians, US government officials, ambassadors and foreign heads of state about critical issues facing the US and the world.

Watch Our Video

Host Carol Castiel talks to Georgetown University Professors Ambassador Mark Lagon and  Professor Tony Arend about the US foreign policy priorities for 2014.    (January 5, 2014)
Middle East Voices Middle East Voices– a VOA-powered social journalism platform seeking to combine investigative journalism, crowdsourcing, participatory writing and social media technology to redefine how stories in and about the Middle East are told.