European Council on Foreign Relations

WikiLeaks and cyber warfare

The WikiLeaks saga has taken an interesting turn that I believe tells us more about the direction the world is going than any US diplomatic cable. As a number of extremists among student protesters here in Westminster were employing the distinctly old-school tactics of breaking windows and throwing things at policemen, a number of other protesters were employing the distinctly 21st Century tactics of cyber-attacks against corporations who they accused of trying to curtail WikiLeaks' activities.

What happened was that a shapeless grouping called 'Anonymous' coordinated the attacks against Mastercard and Visa, with PayPal and Amazon also in their sights. The used a 'distributed denial of server attack', which bombards the websites with repeated requests, causing them to crash. Using a DDOS attack is a recognised part of cyber warfare, and it is something that Russia, among others,

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London view: Education, education, education

If ever there was a test for Britain's governing coalition, it's this Thursday's vote on increasing university tuition fees. The students have been out in force (with some isolated instances of violence) in the streets around our London office over the past few weeks (this blog post from David Rennie in the Economist is the best analysis of the protest movement that I've read). So far, so predictable. But what makes this vote so explosive is the position of the junior coalition partners - the Liberal Democrats. Perhaps due to being free of the responsibilities of power, they were favourites of Britain's students on issues ranging from education funding to opposing war in Iraq. They even made a public pledge to oppose any raises in tuition fees, just before the election. And now? Some say they will abstain from Thursday's vote; others will vote against it; a few will stand by their

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Jerzy Buzek: Flying the EU flag from London to Moscow

Last night, Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament, opened the EU’s new British headquarters in central London. The cost of buying and renovating 32 Smith Square, as Britain’s press have been keen to point out, is estimated to be in the region of £30 million. Perhaps even more galling to those of a Thatcherite eurosceptic mindset is the fact that 32 Smith Square was once Conservative Central Office. The Iron Lady, who herself leaned out of its windows to wave at supporters having won the 1987 general election, is surely displeased by the building’s reincarnation as Europe House. Her mood would not have been improved had she been at LSE yesterday to hear Mr Buzek speak before the official opening, where he promised to wave out of the very same window because “I believe in Europe.”

The former prime minister of Poland’s enthusiasm for the EU is no secret – he is more ‘Yes, yes,

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London view: Should WikiLeaks target FIFA next?

Few things have a convening power as formidable as sport. What does it take to persuade three figures as high-profile as the prime minister, perhaps the highest-profile English sportsman ever and the second in line to the throne to traipse along to Zurich in the middle of winter? Football of course. Not even an event, but the promise of an event, and, in England's case, the country's bid to host the 2018 football World Cup.

And of course, in keeping with England's perenially under-performing football team, David Cameron, Prince William and David Beckham failed. The 2018 event will go to Russia, and the 2022 World Cup will go to, of all places, Qatar. The British press, of course, smells a rat.

BBC press pull together

This is not just sour grapes. British newspaper and TV journalists have been hard at work uncovering what they claimed was widespread corruption within FIFA in the run-up to the decision, and

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Germany in Europe: Trading East and Thinking West?

As Karl Marx said, history is not repeating itself, but sometimes one seems to find similarities. At the moment, there is sort of a trend-inversion going on with respect to the question of with whom the EU should build a free trade zone. The current thinking seems to reflect a 1000-year-old European tradition of looking eastwards, rather than the focus on freeing trade across the Atlantic that we have seen in the recent past.

In 1995, there was hype about the transatlantic market place. A Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) was set up; hundreds of conferences and meetings took place that aimed at overcoming non-tariff trade barriers. The emphasis was on the importance of the (still) impressive figures generated by the transatlantic trade relationship between the US and EU, which even today is the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship in the world, worth almost a third

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