Public Diplomacy Important to US Foreign Policy


Recognizing that public diplomacy as an integral to US foreign policy, the United States of America today also emphasized why public diplomacy is the best lodestar for US future success.

In her remarks at Syracuse University Washington, DC, Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs says in ancient times, sailors used a lodestar to navigate their way through unknown seas.

“In these times, the unknown seas are different and perhaps even more challenging.” -Ms. Sonenshine

She says countries need a modern lodestar in guiding principles to help understand where they are going.

“That lodestar is public diplomacy and today I want to talk about how it has evolved at the State Department, and why we believe it is critical to our future success.” -Ms. Sonenshine

According to Ms. Sonenshine, Secretary Clinton grappled with how to make public diplomacy integral to US foreign policy in all three ways.

Tara D. Soneshine is the current Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ms. Clinton knew that it had to start with making US diplomacy part of a three-legged stool one that included diplomacy, development, and defense, Ms. Sonenshine stated.

Working with USAID, Ms. Clinton created the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review.

“Better known as the QDDR, this wasn’t just a report. It was a process, a blueprint, and a vision for our agency’s adaptation to the 21st century world of diplomacy and development.” -Ms. Sonenshine

It arose from a basic premise that, as the world changes, we must change as well or be left behind or rendered irrelevant or marginalized, she added.

She states that the QDDR was designed to answer critical questions: How could they do better? How could they adapt US strategies and structures to today’s world, addressing the rise of new powers, the emergence of new threats, the invention of new technologies, and the evolution of US own knowledge about how to solve problems and produce results?

It was launched in 2010, and has become the operating manual for US diplomacy and development today, she added.

And within that rubric, Judith McHale, developed a strategic framework for public diplomacy.

Ms. Sonenshine cites that that strategic framework has become our operating lodestar.

It starts by defining the kind of telescope public diplomacy must use, she said.

“That telescope has three lens settings, all working together in fluid motion.” -Ms. Sonenshine

One is the short term what is happening right now, and how they must react on US feet, she stressed.

Another is for the mid-term, where the US builds the context in which it communicates its immediate policies, help expand the receptivity of its counterparts, as well as set the stage for its long term engagements.

“The strongest lens of all is focused on the long term.” -Ms. Sonenshine

She says it is fixed on a future in which relationships between countries are changed for the better; in which sustainable networks of trust are built, citizen to citizen; and in which emerging generations grow up with better perceptions of the United States.

“One of the best ways we can work to achieve all three — the short, mid and long term is by focusing on our people-to-people engagement. “ -Ms. Sonenshine

People are key, she added.

She says the US can’t address the challenges of the 21st century solely through the lens of policy.

“We have to do it with our physical and virtual engagement with people.” -Ms. Sonenshine

By deepening, expanding and leveraging their discourse with them, the Americans can help create the conditions for US policies to work, she noted.

“Otherwise our policies are flying blind.” -Ms. Sonenshine

According to Ms. Sonenshine, through the US 21st century statecraft, the State Department is reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people every single day, through exchange programs, roundtables, and outreach to religious scholars and NGO leaders, businesspeople and entrepreneurs, students, and educational advisors.

“We know, too, that English is the world’s most professionally useful language.” -Ms. Sonenshine

It can build new futures for people in critical regions of the world, she added.

The US government is also providing foreign citizens with an environment in which to learn English.

“They can meet and interact with American subject-matter experts, find information on study abroad opportunities in the United States, and in some countries, access the Internet where Internet access is otherwise limited or restricted.” -Ms. Sonenshine

However, Ms. Sonenshine emphasizes that 21st century statecraft means that they engage face to face and virtually.

No matter how evolved US technology becomes, there is no substitute for a visiting student to sit across the dinner table with a family abroad, she stressed.

She says these components of public diplomacy are mutually reinforcing.

“Our position in the world becomes stronger and more secure when we support democratic representation, human rights and inclusive economic institutions.” -Ms. Sonenshine

When US enhances prosperity abroad, Americans create opportunities for U.S. investment, and for trade.

That creates jobs for America people, she noted.

“We also augment our global position as a leading voice for all of these values from freedom to prosperity.” -Ms. Sonenshine

That’s not only a preventive measure for US national security it’s a proactive measure for US leadership, she pointed out.

Ms. Sonenshine says she was so delighted to speak before an academic institution that has a master’s program in public diplomacy.

“You are the future of public diplomacy. You recognize the need to educate future leaders in the public, private, and nongovernmental sectors on the theory and practice of the public diplomacy and communication.” -Ms. Sonenshine

The United States has brought public diplomacy perspectives in at the highest levels, and emphasized innovation in the field to support its foreign policy directives.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.