Longitude #44

December, 2014

Leaders

The right tune

What’s right?
by Lanfranco Vaccari­­

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic have seen success in recent elections, but there seem to be two different paths. One involves pragmatism and compromise, the other opposition to anything remotely progressive.

Republicans in control
Map by Marie Joveneau
From lame duck to anti-democrat
by Christopher Caldwell

After taking a drubbing at the midterm election, Obama has decided, in the absence of congressional consensus, to enact immigration reform through executive action. There is a big chance it will backfire.

Merkel’s virtuous conservatism
by Ubaldo Villani-Lubelli

Cautious, flexible and willing to compromise, Angela Merkel’s brand of conservatism has transformed her Christian Democratic Union and made Germany an economic and political force to be reckoned with.

Middle East

by Stash Luczkiw

The rise of IS has made the power balance in the Middle East more precarious than ever. How neighbors and the West deal with the threat will be a bellwether for future conflicts and the validity of Western values.  

Islamic State expansion and recruitment
Map by Marie Joveneau
Lone wolves looking for a cause
by Lorenzo Vidino

One of the most unsettling aspects of Islamic State’s growth is the extent to which it attracts Westerners unlikely to have jihadist sympathies. These lone actors seem to be looking for any available alternative to the current system.

Islamic State: What is to be done?
by ICSA Foundation counterterrorism team

As jihadists gain control of territory in the Middle East, the West must assess its options. A recent report by the Intelligence Culture and Strategic Analysis Foundation suggests several strategic lines for Europe and Italy to follow.

Iran

Iran is thirsty
by Jacopo Dettoni

Although blessed with huge oil reserves, Iran is also a very arid country. Teheran has recently been considering oil-for-water deals as lakes, rivers and over 500 cities are running dry.

USA

Waiting for the foreign policy president
by Stefano Stefanini

Down but not out at home, in his presidency’s final stretch Barack Obama still has the option of looking out at the world beyond the United States – and at a time of great need for leadership. Will he take it?

World economy

Australia’s Legacy at the G-20
by Domenico Lombardi, Samantha St. Amand

The G-20 must now coordinate policy actions to address its longer-term goals, rather than only responding to short-term emergencies and volatility. The legacy of the Australian G-20 presidency might be the revival of a more pragmatic, effective and forward-looking forum.

Europe

Germany’s bucolic expertise
by Hermann Simon, Danilo Zatta

Unlike most high-tech manufacturing countries, where know-how is concentrated in the major cities, Germany has a long tradition of decentralized rural nodes where specific engineering skills are applied and developed.

Europe needs a cultural shift
by Flavio De Luca

Europe’s labor and immigration problems tend to be seen within the context of an ideology that gave rise to the welfare state. Yet this very ideology has ossified the economy. It will need to change its perspective in order to restore dynamism. ­­

The new world of cheap oil

Oil prices over the barrel
by Stefano Cingolani

The price of oil has fallen considerably in recent months. Unlike in the past, when oil and gas could be used for political leverage, the structural causes of the drop indicate that market forces have pulled away from political levers.

The big drop
Map by Marie Joveneau
Drilling into wealth
by Maurizio Stefanini

Caught in the midst of a leftist wave, Latin American countries with abundant gas and oil still differ as to how those reserves should be used and to what extent the government is willing to nationalize the industry.

The Orientalist

Khamenei’s nine point plan to destroy Israel
by Maurizio Molinari

Whether meant for domestic consumption or in earnest, recent tweets from the Iranian Supreme Leader have been provocative. The subtext implied that Hezbollah and Hamas would be keys to Israel’s destruction.

Warming bloopers

Sealing the climate deal
by Carlo Clini

The US-China agreement on carbon emissions is a positive step forward, but closer inspection shows that it was formulated in a way that would not arouse too much opposition from domestic opponents on either side.