Bonnie Jenkins, the U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, spoke Wednesday at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies about developments in international security, specifically in relation to the ongoing conflict between the U.S. and Russia.
The Hamilton Lugar School invited Jenkins to speak at its 7th annual America’s Role in the World conference, which brings politicians, journalists, diplomats and others to campus to speak on various global affairs topics.
This year’s conference focused heavily on Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and other national security issues.
Jenkins said national security today is not just about military threats and weapons of mass destruction but also cyber threats.
“To meet these evolving global challenges, we must ensure that we are amassing diverse perspectives in our work,” Jenkins said.
She cited the U.S. State Department’s newly announced Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy. The bureau will address security challenges within digital technologies, according to the State Department’s website.
“We are building capacity and expertise in areas that will become critical to our net security in the years ahead,” Jenkins said. “This endeavor goes hand in hand with ensuring that our diplomatic teams are diverse and inclusive.”
Jenkins spoke about her experience as the first African-American woman to serve as a U.S. Under Secretary of State and the importance of adding diversity to the field of national security. She said she recognized her perspective is helpful, but there’s still work to be done to increase diversity in her area of expertise.
“The challenges we face are so broad and so diverse and so global,” Jenkins said. “We really need everyone at the table who can provide an answer and a way of looking at how we address the problem and fix the problem.”
Senior and HLS student ambassador Abbey Krulik said she appreciated Jenkins’ insights about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Jenkins’ diverse background.
“It’s always good to see high-ranking officials in the State Department who aren’t the traditional ‘pale, male, Yale,’” Krulik said.
Moderator and journalist Elise Labott asked Jenkins if the U.S. could ever sign another arms control agreement with Russia in the future considering Putin’s willingness to break previously established agreements.
Jenkins said the U.S. government decided, as a result of Russia’s unprompted attacks on Ukraine, the U.S. cannot have dialogue with Russia right now.
“Obviously it’s tough right now,” Jenkins said. “I would say that it’s hopeful that we can get to a point where we can have these conversations only because of the importance of the issues.”