The 304-year-old union between England and Scotland is starting to look shaky, and some believe Scottish independence could be in the cards within a few years. The pro-independence Scottish National Party recently won its first majority in Scottish elections and has pledged to hold a referendum on nationhood within 5 years. Polls currently show only a third of Scots favor independence, but SNP leader Alex Salmond, renowned as a canny political operator, is doing his best to persuade the rest that the time has come.
An independent Scotland would likely clash with the US on many issues, notes MSNBC. The SNP has pledged to take Scotland out of NATO and ban nuclear weapons from the country. Salmond, who says leaving the UK would give Scotland a chance to create "a socially just, economically prosperous society," downplays fears of friction with the US. "We'd be in exactly the same position as Ireland is at the present moment. There's a lot of goodwill toward Scotland from people in America," he says, noting Scots had made a "fairly substantial contribution to the intellectual backbone of the American Revolution." (Read more Alex Salmond stories.)