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.”
Sarah Smierciak holds a PhD in Middle East Studies and a Master’s in International Development from the University of Oxford where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.
Her research sits at the intersection of international development and political economy in the MENA, with a focus on poverty, inequality and corruption. She authored Cronyism and Elite Capture in Egypt: From Businessmen Cabinet to Military Inc. (Routledge 2021) and co-edited the Routledge Handbook on Contemporary Egypt (2021). Her monograph focuses on business-state relations in Egypt in the two decades leading up to the January 2011 uprising and its aftermath. It argues that Western actors with a shared interest in market liberalization served as essential partners in enabling elite resource capture, and that the economic gains accompanying neoliberal reforms in Egypt (1991-2011) were distributed largely via networks bound together by elite social capital.
As an analyst, Dr. Smierciak has written dozens of reports and policy briefs for international consulting firms on political economic developments in the region. While at Oxford, she taught undergraduate courses on history and politics in the MENA. She has conducted research throughout Egypt and in Istanbul, Turkey as a Fulbright Scholar. She holds a B.A. in History and Middle East Studies from Northwestern University, where she graduated summa cum laude.