John Hambley is a student in the CMES AM Program in Regional Studies — Middle East.
How did you become interested in Middle Eastern Studies?
My interest in the Middle East began while I was an undergraduate at Bard College. From the safety of a college campus, I started studying the political dynamics following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and slowly became fascinated by the region as a whole. After college, I served in the U.S. Marine Corps as an Intelligence Officer from 2007 to 2010. Prior to coming to Harvard, I worked for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton from 2010 to 2014, where I supported national security projects for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
Why did you choose CMES?
After being out of academia for several years, I decided to come to CMES based on the program’s flexibility. While CMES provides an academic structure based around language and Middle East history requirements, it also grants students the opportunity to take advantage of Harvard’s extensive resources. CMES students are encouraged to take classes at the Law School, the Kennedy School of Government, and the Business School, based on their academic interests and focus. This balanced approach provides CMES students with a solid foundation of regional knowledge, while giving them the autonomy to explore and develop their own interests.
What are your research interests?
I have a particular interest in studying the regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and more specifically how this rivalry has shaped the current situation in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Based on my professional background and experience, I also have a strong interest in Security Sector Reform (SSR) efforts in the Middle East and North Africa, illicit finance, and constitutional reform.
What do you like best about living in Cambridge?
As a New Englander, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting than Cambridge to go to graduate school. The Cambridge area is filled with fantastic restaurants and cafes, all of which are within walking distance, or just a short ride on the T. Another great part about living in Cambridge is the fact that you can easily travel to the coast or take advantage of some of the best towns and cities in New England.
What are your plans after finishing your degree?
After graduating from Harvard, I’d like to return to Washington D.C. in order to resume my career as a consultant in Middle Eastern affairs.