Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Christopher Toulouse, Ph.D.


This thesis explores the implications of nation-state cyberwarfare and cyber conflict in the context of geopolitics and international studies. The emergence of nation-state cyber conflict has increased in frequency and severity in the last decade. In order to investigate what renders cyberwarfare a new and unique challenge to specific geopolitical climates and international systems at large, research on state-level cyber conflict within bilateral relationships—all of which cyber activity is significantly prevalent—is presented in the following three case studies: US-China, US-Iran, and US-Russia. Findings of these three case studies are used in subsequent analysis to articulate the specific ways in which state cyber conflict differs from conventional state kinetic warfare. Finally, after characterizing cyber conflict and the new challenges it presents to geopolitics, these defining qualities are situated into current debate surrounding the deterioration of the liberal international order. I conclude that nation-state cyberwarfare exploits the postwar interconnected transparency of liberalism, and fundamentally challenges the continuity of US hegemony and the liberal order.