Longitude #25

March, 2013


The old man and the Holy See
by Cesare De Michelis

For decades the Roman Catholic Church has attempted to shore up its traditions. Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise abdication may spark a sense of possibility similar to that which prevailed after the Second Vatican Council.


Al-Qaeda Inc.
by Lorenzo Vidino

The terror franchise that changed how governments think about security may be debilitated, but its message not only continues to spread, it also adapts to local contingencies. How are Western governments adapting their strategies?

The failed state syndrome
by Stefano Stefanini

The pivot into Africa of jihadist movements has changed the geopolitics of a fragile region, where failed states open opportunities for Islamic extremists. Europe has to rise to the challenge – or pay a heavy price for inaction. Security in the western Mediterranean is at stake.

Al-Qaeda’s web
by Stash Luczkiw

The Arab Awaking has been a rude one. Al-Qaeda may be marginalized, but its impact on Islamist politics has been indelible. The Muslim world now finds itself caught in the throes of a post-Qaeda reevaluation of its own traditions and its relationship to the West.

God will not give victory to an unjust state
by Mohammad Sammak

In times of rapid change, conflict is almost inevitable. Islamist governments pose a legitimate threat to minority communities, especially Christians, who have tended to thrive under secular regimes. What will their fate be?

Salafis in the Syrian Civil War
by Roberto Bongiorni

As the war in Syria rages, jihadis from outside the country are making their presence felt. A close-up look at the front line in Aleppo reveals a complex situation that could degenerate further if the Assad regime falls.

France draws a line in the sand
by Stefano Cingolani

The most dangerous new front in the ongoing fight against Islamic extremism, especially for European nations, has opened in Africa’s Sahel region. Now France has boots in the sand and must train African nations to contain the threat.

Israel still stable amidst the chaos
by Emanuele Ottolenghi

With all the changes and upheavals in its neighborhood, it is not surprising that Israel is watching developments attentively. Despite seemingly countless variables and scenarios, there is one constant – stability – that has a huge bearing on its relations.

The graying of the great powers

The de­­population bomb
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

The world is facing a demographic watershed of unprecedented proportions. Everywhere on the planet, people are living longer and having fewer children. This “graying” of the world will have huge economic and political ramifications.

World population trends
Migration economics
by Christopher Caldwell

Demographic changes through migration from country to country have usually been driven by the poor seeking opportunities in wealthier lands. Now there is a trend toward piloting demography by treating residency as an exchangeable good.

Age and the labor market
by Giovanni Tria

Demographic factors affect where the money of the productive population goes. If too much is spent on non-working dependents, there is less for investment. To mitigate this situation, a coordinated effort is needed between government and business to teach new skills.

Acting on global obligations
by Erkki Tuomioja

Population growth is the central factor behind globalization. As developing nations grow and take their rightful place in the international political arena, the West will need to elaborate a more universal vision of the values that allowed them to become leaders.


To EU or not to EU?
by Leonardo Maisano

Britain’s view of the European Union as merely a market may eventually force it to break away. One must wonder, however, not only how it could survive alone, but whether it can prevent its own internal break-up.

Fiscal multipliers
by Domenico Lombardi, Galip Kemal Ozhan

What works for one country may not work for other countries. Economists are now trying to accurately quantify why similar fiscal policies result in a more negative impact on struggling economies than on sounder ones.


China’s inevitable choice
by Gianluca Comin

With an economy that has gone from backwater to superpower in a matter of decades, the Chinese hunger for energy has led to a race for nuclear energy production, and more recently to a need to come to terms with safety issues.

Food diplomacy

The heat in the kitchen
by Enrico Verga

Cuisine is an integral part of a people’s culture. But the very nature of food is such that it’s meant to be shared. Neighbors often appropriate each other’s methods of preparation. At times this can lead to disputes. Although it can also lead to cooperation.

Warming bloopers

Navigating climate change
by Carlo Clini

John Kerry, long a champion in the fight against climate change, will get a chance as the new Secretary of State to link environmental issues with those of national security, and reestablish the US as a “green” leader.