Managing the Migrant Crisis
How Europe Pushes Migrants Onto Boats
The Return of No-Man’s Land
Europe's Asylum Crisis and Historical Memory
A Self-Interested Approach to Migration Crises
Push Factors, Pull Factors, and Investing In Refugees
The Elephant in the Room
Islam and the Crisis of Liberal Values in Europe
Jordan's Refugee Experiment
A New Model for Helping the Displaced
France on Fire
The Charlie Hebdo Attack and the Future of al Qaeda
Laïcité Without Égalité
Can France Be Multicultural?
Europe's Dangerous Multiculturalism
Why the Continent Fails Minority Groups
ISIS' Next Target
Terrorism After Brussels
The French Connection
Explaining Sunni Militancy Around the World
The French Disconnection
Francophone Countries and Radicalization
The Myth of Lone-Wolf Terrorism
The Attacks in Europe and Digital Extremism
Keeping Europe Safe
Counterterrorism for the Continent
The Continent's Leader Needs Intelligence Reform
British Counterterrorism Policy After Westminster
London Can Do More to Prevent Radicalization
Europe’s Populist Surge
A Long Time in the Making
Merkel's Last Stand
Letter from Berlin
There Is No Alternative
Why Germany’s Right-Wing Populists Are Losing Steam
The Schulz Effect Faces Its First Test
Will Reviving Germany's Social Democrats Be Enough to Unseat Merkel?
The Future of Dutch Democracy
What the Election Revealed About the Establishment—and Its Challengers
The Right Way to Leave the EU
Pulling the Trigger on Brexit
And Passing the Point of No Return
Theresa May's Gamble
Why Britain's Snap Election Will Do Little to Ease Brexit
France’s Next Revolution?
A Conversation With Marine Le Pen
Europe in Russia's Digital Cross Hairs
What’s Next for France and Germany—and How to Deal With It
Why French Voters Rejected Le Pen
Austria's Populist Puzzle
Why One of Europe's Most Stable States Hosts a Thriving Radical Right
Europe's Hungary Problem
Viktor Orban Flouts the Union
Europe's Autocracy Problem
Polish Democracy's Final Days?
In recent weeks, politicians and intelligence officials in France and Germany have stepped up their warnings of Russian interference in the national elections both countries will hold next year. In late November, Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that Germany had “evidence that cyberattacks are taking place that have no purpose other than to elicit political uncertainty.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel has expressed similar concerns, suggesting that Moscow may attempt to influence Germany’s parliamentary elections, which are slated for September 2017. French politicians have been more circumspect about the specific threats posed to their country’s presidential elections, which will be held in April and May. But Guillaume Poupard, the director-general of France’s National Agency for the Security of Information Systems, has indicated that Paris, too, is concerned about the prospect of foreign interference. Western democracies face “the development of a digital threat for political ends and for destabilization,” he told Le Monde in early December.
Neither France nor Germany, however, is ready to deal with such attacks. Their institutions are ill-equipped to prevent digital breaches, and their politicians and publics are unprepared to handle the fallout from them.
To better understand the threat they face, leaders in both countries would do well to learn from the most brazen Russian-led influence operation so far: the leaking of information stolen from servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the private email account of John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. A careful look at that episode and its aftermath demonstrates the importance of strengthening the cyberdefenses of democratic institutions, building a political consensus to condemn attacks, and publicly naming—and punishing—the perpetrators.
The use of incriminating information to publicly discredit opponents is widespread, but Russian intelligence services have a particularly strong penchant for the tactic. During the Cold War, the practice was common enough that the Russian term kompromat (a portmanteau combining the Russian words for “
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