Monday, December 24, 2007

Citizen Diplomacy

It's good to see the citizen self-mobilization meme continuing to spread:

When will we realize that reversing these dangerous trends is not a one-person job? In fact, unless exponentially more American citizens appreciate their own responsibilities for U.S. public diplomacy, no undersecretary — no matter how talented or well-connected — will make real progress.
Government packaging cannot do what ordinary citizens can do: build understanding and mutual respect, irrespective of the person in the undersecretary for public diplomacy's chair, or even in the Oval Office. Mrs. Hughes conveyed this when she stated: "We must empower our most important international asset: individual American citizens." Citizen diplomacy is the concept that, in a vibrant democracy, the individual citizen has the right — even the responsibility — to help shape U.S. foreign affairs. Citizen diplomats are people who recognize that by reaching out to people around the globe, we can make the world a better, safer, more compassionate place, one handshake at a time.
Citizen diplomacy consists of ordinary folks reaching out internationally — not in the service of a government campaign, but with private- and public-sector support for their own efforts.It involves engaging communities abroad honestly, respectfully acknowledging human differences and appreciating common human aspirations. It involves building trust and understanding one person at a time. Citizen diplomacy includes inviting foreign visitors into our homes, schools and offices. Itwelcomes learning about other cultures, countries and religions. Citizen diplomacy strengthens our communities, our nation and our international relations.

Whether we are students befriending an international scholar in a college classroom, business representatives who take the time to learn about the customs and protocol of another nation or athletes welcoming a foreign teammate, we can make a difference.
So while we lose another undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs in Washington, we gain a new citizen diplomat in Texas. We welcome Citizen Diplomat Karen Hughes.

We hope she will focus attention on and participate in various citizen diplomacy organizations hard at work in her home state known for its expansiveness and hospitality. We hope she will choose to host international visitors or foreign students at her home, foster global service, build international business ties, support contributions to global scholarship and science or counterterrorism through international exchange. As a private citizen, she can make a difference.

Via Small Wars Journal

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