Longitude #52

August, 2015


Still felix?

Australia, still felix?
by Marco Mona

In 1836 the explorer Thomas Mitchell, during an expedition to discover new areas to colonize, came across what is now Victoria and was so enchanted by the area he called it “Australia Felix.” Subsequently dubbed “the lucky country,” the continent that straddles three oceans has had a great run. But can its luck hold out?

Downunder by numbers
Map by Marie Joveneau

Working on the EU to come

Leaving is never easy
by Stefano Cingolani

Everyone was prepared for Grexit, but in the end all the sides involved came reluctantly to the conclusion that parting ways would be more traumatic than trying to work things out.

Snapshot of a crunch
Map by Marie Joveneau
Toward a less imperfect Union
by Renzo Rosso

The Greek crisis has had a huge impact on the plans for a more integrated European Union. Structural inadequacies that had been conveniently ignored in more prosperous times now threaten to undermine the entire project.


A tale of two agreements
by Stefano Stefanini

Two major international agreements involving laborious negotiations were signed in July. One of them looks like a change for the better, while the other hopes to keep things together lest they spin out of control.

Middle East

by Stash Luczkiw

The sheer complexity inherent in the Syrian Civil War makes it seem insoluble. It also raises the distasteful prospect of having to deal with other such pockets of mayhem for the foreseeable future.

No-go zones
Map by Marie Joveneau
Kurds on the rise
by Bahram Raad

As the Middle East precipitates into chaos, the historically chaotic Kurds have mustered up an unprecedented sense of unity and solidarity.
Today they are not just fighting for more autonomy, they are fighting for their lives.


What Trump really means
by Christopher Caldwell

He may be just a political flash in the pan, but Donald Trump’s rise in the wake of his many politically incorrect comments speaks volumes about the current identity crisis afflicting the Republican Party.

Political models

Asian pop-com
by Fabrizio Franciosi

East Asian communism was always different from the European variety. One of the reasons for this has to do with their millennial tradition of government. Over time the Asians have proved themselves to be more flexible and less ideological.


Putin it under one umbrella
by Maurizio Stefanini

Since the US has long controlled NATO and the IMF, Russia and other powers are looking to form economic alliances and security arrangements that could mitigate America’s hegemony. But they are hindered by their own diverging interests.


At the bottom of the world
by Cristiana Mirasole, Emanuele Magi

Antarctica is a little-known open-space laboratory for scientific research, where one is as far from man’s touch as can be on the Earth. Along with a host of other countries, Italy is also contributing to a worldwide scientific challenge.

The Orientalist

Egypt feels the jihadi squeeze
by Maurizio Molinari

With a growing jihadi insurgency both within and beyond its borders, President Sisi is preparing to double down on his efforts to quash the Islamists who want to overthrow him.

Inside business

Putting the Global 500 into perspective
by Hermann Simon, Danilo Zatta

The growth of colossal companies, each producing as much as entire countries, has fascinated economic observers. But a closer look at the statistical dynamics tends to ignore the significant impact of smaller firms.

Warming bloopers

Wind kicks up in the energy mix
by Carlo Clini

New technologies have combined with government incentives to raise the profile of wind power. Despite its persistent shortcomings, wind should prove to be a crucial element in our energy future.