24 November 2022

SAMF student wins prestigious essay competition


Morten Hybschmann, who studies political science at the University of Copenhagen, has just won the Hoover Institution Director's Award. He receives the award for an essay that criticizes how the United States has set up its cyber defense.

Morten Hybschmann
Morten Hybschmann

It all began this summer, when Morten Hybschmann participated in a Summer Policy Boot Camp, organized by the think tank Hoover Institution.

"The summer school was a huge experience. Stanford University's beautiful campus provided a wonderful setting, and there was plenty of opportunity to socialize and form friendships with students and young professionals from all over the world," he says. 

Morten Hybschmann was particularly impressed with how the American think tank was able to attract so many exceptional researchers with many years of experience from the highest political offices.

"In particular, it was exciting to hear former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former National Security Advisor and three-star general, H.R. McMaster, speak. I even had the opportunity to discuss current affairs with H.R. McMaster during a long lunch, where he told personal anecdotes about everything from his leadership during several wars to meetings with Xi Jinping," he mentions.

A new view on cyber war

At the end of an intense week where Morten Hybschmann and the other participants discussed the core principles and tools of public policy, everyone was encouraged to apply their knowledge by writing a policy proposal.

Morten Hybschmann chose the subject of cyber security in the essay 'Recalibrating Cyber Defense: Proposal for a Networked National Cyber Strategy'. Here he argues that policymakers have misinterpreted the threat posed by cyber warfare.

"First and foremost, cyber operations are unlikely to escalate into armed conflict and are of limited effect in warfare," he writes and continues:

"Instead, cyber operations should be interpreted as a means of subversion, since they are too slow, too weak, and too volatile to shift the balance of power in a targeted, predictable, and timely fashion," he suggests.

A surprised winner

In November, the Hoover Institution announced the winners of the think tank's Director's Award. Among the winners was Morten Hybschmann, who becomes the second student from the University of Copenhagen to receive this award (the first was Marc Sabatier Hvidkjær, also from political science).

Morten Hybschmann calls it a huge experience and a great honour to win the Hoover Institution's Director's Award.

"You are competing against students and graduates from the world's best universities, so I am of course very proud to have been selected," he says and elaborates:

"I am actually also a bit surprised because my policy proposal is very critical of the way the Americans have set up their cyber defense. So it was far from certain that they agreed with my analysis.”

Morten Hybschmann will be presented with the award in Washington DC in February. Here he also gets the opportunity to meet a large number of high-profile Americans from politics, defense, and business.

Read more about the Hoover Institution Summer Policy Boot Camp.