May 2015

How British Elections Represent the State of Europe

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By George Friedman

The United Kingdom is going to the polls on Thursday. Elections electrify the countries in which they are held, but in most cases they make little difference. In this case, the election is a bit more important. Whether Labour or the Tories win makes some difference, but not all that much. What makes this election significant is that in Scotland, 45 percent of the public voted recently to leave the United Kingdom. This has been dismissed as an oddity by all well-grounded observers. However, for unsophisticated viewers like myself, the fact that 45 percent of Scotland was prepared to secede was an extraordinary event.

China Takes Stock of U.S.-Japan Alliance as Abe Speaks to Congress

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By Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga

As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits the United States on April 26-May 3, all eyes in China are watching how Abe speaks about ongoing historical memory issues and how he is strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance. By revising the defense guidelines on April 27 and speaking in front of a joint session of Congress on April 29—the first time for a Japanese leader—Abe made arguably the most high-profile visit ever by a Japanese prime minister to the United States.

Russia’s Hybrid War Against Poland

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By Matthew Czekaj

In early April 2015, the Polish Internal Security Agency’s Governmental Computer Security Incident Response Team (also known as CERT—Computer Emergency Response Team), released its annual report on cyber security in Poland (Cert.gov.pl, April 3). According to the report’s findings, Poland came under a record number of hacker and cyber attacks in 2014—7,498 specific cyber attack “incidents” last year, compared to 5,670 confirmed incidents in 2013, 457 in 2012, and 249 attacks verified by CERT in 2011 (Cert.gov.pl, accessed April 28). In addition to a marked escalation in cases, the threat and level of sophistication of the registered cyber attacks also increased compared to previous years, in many cases pointing to state backing. The report highlights a series of high-profile hacking and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against key Polish state and financial websites in mid-August 2014, including the homepage of Poland’s president and the Warsaw stock exchange. Those incidents were promptly claimed by an online group calling itself “Cyber Berkut,” which stated it was acting in retaliation against the Polish government’s support of the post-EuroMaidan Ukrainian authorities.