Longitude #06

July, 2011


Mutants attack

A bug in the works
by Antonio Pascale

The inability to pinpoint the source of this latest lethal bacteria outbreak is creating widespread panic. But we mustn’t let fear cloud our capacity to scientifically assess the nature of the threat and how to best protect ourselves.

Sickly greens
by Giancarlo Loquenzi

Whenever there is a health scare like mad cow disease or avian flu, we are reminded of our atavistic relationship with food. In a globalized food market, methods of optimizing production have exacerbated problems that will pose a  serious threat if left unresolved. And the recent E. coli mutations could be just the tip of the cucumber.

Deadly friends
by Isabella Saggio

Bacteria is getting a bad rap these days as a new strain takes its toll on those unfortunate to have ingested it. But for years these microscopic organisms have helped us in countless ways.

Security handover in Afghanistan

Exit from Afghanistan: strategy before schedule
by Richard Greco

As American troops in Afghanistan begin to come home, it’s better to consider investing more time with a greater number of trainers and redefine measurable and realistic benchmarks than to accelerate a large-scale withdrawal.

The spring offensive tests the Afghan forces’ mettle
by Vincenzo Camporini

The spike in Taliban attacks follows an almost predictable seasonal pattern. But a closer look shows that Afghan forces are capable of negating the insurgents’ ability to hold ground, and this is a sign in the right direction.

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) contributing nations
Rebuilding on a slippery slope
by Andrea Margelletti

Reconstruction in Herat is proceeding slowly but steadily. This relatively stable part of the country, with historic ties to Iran, will prove a testing ground for the security handover in the rest of the country.

Trusting your enemy
by Christopher Caldwell

The world has changed since plans of rebuilding Afghanistan were put in place. Now strategic thinking needs to address the economic shortfalls of the military commitment. Yet a balance must be achieved so as not to give the impression of defeat.

Framing the Great Game
by Pasquale Ferrara

There are many lessons to be learned from Afghanistan. One of the most glaring, however, is that a new approach to Central Asia as a whole is necessary in order to maintain stability.

Facilitating peace in Afghanistan
by Lakhdar Brahimi, Thomas R. Pickering

With all sides war-weary, now is the critical moment to facilitate the negotiation of a viable peace process. What’s needed is an individual or group that can bring the disparate parties together, gain their trust, and midwife a lasting settlement.

Give and take with the Taliban
by Jeffrey Laurenti

Peace in Afghanistan requires hammering out a deal with the Taliban and reconciling Afghan interests with those of insurgents who want to regain lost power. A daunting task, but history shows it’s possible.


Getting away from it all
by Paola Peduzzi

Germany is looking eastward. Perhaps to the detriment of the European dream. But in these times of crisis, all stops get pulled to ensure a sound economy – even if it means pulling away from those in free-fall.

Trying not to bounce too high
by Stefano Cingolani

While poised to become the dynamo of Europe, Germany might prefer to coast a little and keep the inflation it dreads at bay.

Putin gas in Merkel’s engine
by Carlo Jean

If anyone can run an efficient nuclear industry, one would think the Germans can. And they have. But popular opinion and Fukushima panic have tipped the scales, and Merkel has traded German energy independence for votes.­


Serbia: 24 klicks from the EU
by Valeria Biagiotti

With Europe’s most wanted fugitive awaiting trial for war crimes, there is no excuse for not letting Serbia into the EU. Or is there? Some issues, such as Kosovo remain. But most of all, Europe’s willingness to expand in the middle of a crisis will decide.


Transatlantic justice gap
by Marina Valensise

Although France and the United States both revere the notion of equality, the way Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been treated in his arrest and how his trial is expected to unfold are revealing significant differences.

Middle East & North Africa

The house in which we live
by Carlo Pelanda

The Mediterranean’s shores have always been centers of trade, bringing together different cultures. Why not acknowledge this geopolitical reality and build on it to narrow some of the existing divides between neighbors.

The Southern Rim goes global
by Stefania Craxi

The G-8 recently got together to discuss the transformations occurring in the Arab world. The Deauville Partnership that came out of the summit will explore political and economic solutions. But what is needed more than declarations is concrete action.

Making Mediterranean trade easier
by Francesco Sciaudone

The changes in the countries along the southern Mediterranean oblige us to figure out a way to enhance trade. By codifying a Euro-Med Company based on established models, commerce can be facilitated.


Of satraps and sorcerers
by Carlo Panella

In recent months Iran’s President Ahmadinejad has provoked a fight with the allies who have supported him thus far. Could it all be a maneuver to redistribute the government’s complicated power balance in his favor?


Why Yemen matters
by Maurizio Massari

Long at the margins of the Middle East geostrategic map, Yemen has often been ignored. But the fact that it is becoming a terrorist haven overlooking a crucial shipping lane makes its descent into chaos worrisome.


Quiet in the eye of the storm, for now
by Claudio Pagliara

The Middle East’s perennial powder keg has been remarkably subdued. Netanyahu has scored some tactical victories of late, but even hardliners fear his policies are increasing the likelihood of an imminent explosion should the Palestinians declare statehood.

Turkey steps into the Syrian fray
by Carlo Panella

With Erdogan throwing down the gauntlet to the Assad regime, Israel needs to reconsider its lapsed relations with Turkey. Certainly the status quo is no longer tenable.

West Africa

Nigeria’s run of Goodluck
by Anna Bono

Blessed with natural and human resources, Nigeria could be a powerhouse. But oil wealth mismanagement, widespread corruption and communal strife have plagued it since independence. Recent elections have given a glimmer of hope.

Bringing on good times in Ghana
by Anna Bono

Warming bloopers

Gasping for more gas
by Corrado Clini

Now that nuclear has been shunned out of fear, increased demand for relatively clean natural gas combined with new technologies for extracting it promise to raise its share in the energy mix.