Sonenshine: people-to-people ties support U.S. national security

At her swearing-in ceremony at the Department of State yesterday, new Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine highlighted the importance people-to-people relationships have for U.S. national security.

Sonenshine said:

“Secretary Clinton understands the importance of connecting to people. She has made people-to-people diplomacy central to our foreign policy. … Policy is about people. Without a deeper understanding of foreign publics, our policies are just flying blind. We can’t depend only on conversations with political leaders. We have to connect with people, and let them know we are listening, we care, and we are working to support them.”

“We have to be texting, blogging, tweeting, and connecting face-to-face – to empower young people, women and girls, and minorities, engaging to change the minds of extremists who spread misinformation and hatred online, reaching out to make sure our narrative is as robust as the character of our nation. If we enlist public diplomacy effectively, we can enlist the problem solvers and leaders of tomorrow.”

Sonenshine further thanked “the people of the public diplomacy field,” including those who work in international education and exchange, for “contributing to national security” and said they “have this country’s support and encouragement.”