United States Department of Defense

The Alexander Hamilton Society at Yale hosted Ambassador Paula J. Dobriansky, established diplomat and former President’s Envoy to Northern Ireland under the George W. Bush administration, to speak about where great power competition is playing out in today’s geopolitical theater. 

At a seminar hosted in Linsly Chittenden Hall on Friday, March 3, Dobriansky spoke to a group of about 20 students and entertained various audience questions. During her talk she commended the Biden administration’s diplomacy in the wake of the war in Ukraine and encouraged the next generation of Yale students to pursue paths in government. 

The ambassador provided a wide-ranging analysis of the geopolitical challenges that the United States faces in various theaters across the globe,” wrote AHS executive board member Axel de Vernou ’25. “Geopolitical animosity between the United States and major powers such as Russia and China render discussions about great power competition more urgent than ever before.” 

Dobriansky currently serves as a Senior Fellow in the Future of Diplomacy Project at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs as well as Vice Chair of think tank the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

The seminar’s subject matter was timely as Dobriansky’s visit took place around Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s brief meeting with his Russian counterpart Surgey Lavrov at the G-20 Conference on March 2. 

Great power competition will only grow over the next few years, especially because of the Russian war in Ukraine,” wrote attendee Ethan Chiu ’26. “As such, given how the world often impacts domestic policies and opportunities, it is important for Yalies to explore great power competition.”

The seminar followed Dobriansky’s virtual with Ukranian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the Harvard Kennedy School on Feb. 22. In the hosted visit, Kuleba emphasized the danger presented by China’s potential choice to arm Russia. 

The emphasis on China as a player in Russia’s war in Ukraine was an important theme broached by Dobriansky throughout her seminar, and one that students found particularly compelling. 

“As I continue to explore U.S.-China relations through my academics, as well as learn about the geopolitical environment as a whole, I have been seeking out opportunities to speak with individuals, such as Ambassador Dobriansky, to learn more about the behind-the-scenes of cooperation,” attendee Alex Mirrer ’24 told the News. 

Dobriansky is slated to travel to India this week for a conference where she will speak with leading foreign affairs experts and policymakers. The ambassador is currently co-chairing a commission at the Center for Strategic and International Studies focused on rebuilding and reconstructing Ukraine, which informs her current focus on topics adjacent to the conflict. The commission published a report in January, which focuses on rebuilding the country’s economy through private sector investment. 

“Geopolitics affects all of us at some level or another,” Mirrer wrote. “In an increasingly globalized world, international events have ripple effects throughout our lives. One such area we are particularly sensitive to is the economy.”

The Harvard Kennedy School was founded in 1936.

Correction, March 10: A previous version of this article misstated Blinken’s first name.

Ines Chomnalez writes for the University desk covering Yale Law School. She previously wrote for the Arts desk. Ines is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in History and Cognitive Science.