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.”
Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Ambassador Thomas Shannon, Jr., will speak about his experience from inside the State Department in the first year of President Trump's presidency and about current American foreign policy
Ambassador Shannon now serves as a Senior International Policy Advisor at Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC. Before retiring from the State Department, Ambassador Shannon served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, the third highest ranking position at the State Department. Holding the personal rank of Career Ambassador, he was the highest ranking member of the United States Foreign Service, the country's professional diplomatic corps. During his tenure as Under Secretary, Ambassador Shannon was in charge of bilateral and multilateral foreign policymaking and implementation, and oversaw diplomatic activity globally and in our missions to international organizations. He managed the State Department during the presidential transition, led bilateral and strategic stability talks with the Russian Federation, worked with our allies to oversee Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and expanded US engagement in Central Asia, among other things.
Prior to that appointment, he served as Counselor of the Department, where he acted as a troubleshooter and roving envoy for Secretary of State John Kerry. In that capacity, he focused on Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, and led US support for the UN-sponsored peace processes in Yemen and South Sudan. Ambassador Shannon spent nearly 35 years in the Foreign Service, and has served 6 US presidents and 11 secretaries of state.
Prior to his appointment as Counselor, Ambassador Shannon was the United States Ambassador to Brazil. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Shannon served as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs from 2005-2009. He served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council (2003-2005), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the Department of State (2002-2003), and Director of Andean Affairs (2001-2002). From 2000-2001, he was US Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador. During his career, Ambassador Shannon served in the US Foreign Service at embassies in Guatemala, Brazil, South Africa, and Venezuela.