The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
A seminar with Steffen Hertog, Associate Professor of Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics. Moderated by Melani Cammett, Clarence Dillon Professor of International Affairs, Department of Government, Harvard University and MEI Faculty Affiliate.
Drawing on a new dataset of 4000 foreign fighters who joined the Islamic State from 2012 to 2014, this paper investigates the socio-economic profiles of international IS volunteers by comparing them with relevant populations in their countries of origin. Confirming previous research about Islamist radicals, we find that IS foreign fighters are more educated than their peers, albeit with considerable variation across countries. For a sub-set of countries, we use data on IS members’ education, professional background, and the relationship between the two, to assess two socio-economic hypotheses of radicalization: low opportunity costs and relative deprivation, two concepts that researchers have struggled to empirically distinguish to date. We find qualified support for relative deprivation.
About the speaker
Steffen Hertog is an associate professor of comparative politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a comparative political economist with particular focus on the Middle East and the author of “Princes, Brokers and Bureaucrats: Oil and State in Saudi Arabia” (Cornell University Press 2011) and, with Diego Gambetta, of “Engineers of Jihad: the Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education” (Princeton University Press 2016).