Longitude #39

June, 2014


World war

The price of the West’s strategic ambiguity
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

For more than two decades NATO and the EU have assumed that they had won the Cold War, expanding eastward every chance they got. Yet this expansion not only ate into Russia’s national pride and geographic buffer, it also undermined the original purpose of the transatlantic alliance.

Global military chessboard
Map by Marie Joveneau
The economy of war
by Stefano Cingolani

Can Europe or Russia bear the economic burden of a major war? Some say the global economy is so interdependent that such a war would be obviated by the fact that no clear benefit would come to anyone involved. But this has yet to be proved.

Hey, big spender
by Christopher Caldwell

Alarms are ringing in NATO countries, but not loud enough for any of them to raise their defense budgets. As the rest of the world grows in economic and military might, the West’s ability to influence and defend will diminish.

The cost of frozen conflicts and quasi-states
by Renzo Rosso

Russia’s annexation of Crimea comes with a price. As with previous revanchist actions, Moscow must weigh the cost of subsidies and damaged credibility against the benefits of gains in resources and national pride.

Middle East reshuffle
by Maurizio Melani

Security, crisis management and the economy have all been upended by the crisis in Ukraine. Russia is positioned to sabotage diplomatic negotiations, and the US must tend to cooling relations.

Do-or-die time
by Stefano Stefanini

As the rest of the world pulls ahead, Europe seems to be taking for granted that its position in the international system is safe. But are Europeans turning a blind eye to an unpalatable reality?

­­­The not quite pacific Indian Ocean

Alliances on the high seas
by Antonio Armellini

The area around the Indian Ocean is a palimpsest of economic blocs and military alliances, often as fleeting as their acronyms are forgetful. Finding the right balance among the major powers of today and the future will be key to maintaining stability.

At the center of the new geopolitical equation
Map by Marie Joveneau
Naval bases: far-flung and homegrown
by Maurizio Stefanini

With two of the most important shipping lanes at each side, the Indian Ocean is a very important strategic point. Naval bases along its rim will be key to military supremacy in the 21st century.

A new day over breaking waves
by Enrico Verga

The Indian Ocean is once again a crucial region with respect to the economic and military balance of power. Three major players – China, India and the US – are vying for dominance there.

Jihad flares up again in Africa
by Anna Bono

Thanks to vast territories and porous national borders uncontrolled by governments, Islamist jihadism has expanded in Africa and has succeeded in creating a transnational network of cells. In countries like Nigeria the situation is becoming dire.


Inclusive growth, resilience, jobs and trust
by Giuseppe Pennisi

At a recent OECD gathering, ministers discussed long-term development strategies. Such strategies are needed not only in developing countries, but also in highly industrialized nations to increase growth.

Soft power

Apollo in Gaza
by Pasquale Ferrara, Yasmeen J. El Khoudary

Artworks are often casualties of political strife. Sometimes they are looted, other times destroyed. One precious bronze statue risks oblivion because of the unending Palestinian troubles.


Of dodos and dinosaurs
by Federico Bini

Given the means, man would not hesitate at tweaking the evolutionary process. With genetics making progess by leaps and bounds, the dream of reviving long extinct animal species has become a reality.

The Orientalist

The darling of the Middle East
by Maurizio Molinari

The more Vladimir Putin projects the image of a decisive, loyal and ruthless leader willing to use both cunning and force, the more his popularity increases in the Middle East.

Warming bloopers

Sunshine state under water
by Carlo Clini

The US state of Florida, especially the city of Miami, is vulnerable to sea level rise. Almost everyone agrees that something needs to be done. Unfortunately, some politicians fear alienating the economic interests that support them.