Editorial: Minnesota's global role

  • Article by: EDITORIAL BOARD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2012 - 7:16 PM

State Department visit builds support for diplomatic outreach.

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Esther Brimmer

Photo: AP, Associated Press

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The Weekly Standard, a consistently conservative opinion magazine, ran an online item with the headline "State Department Sends Assistant Secretary to ... Minneapolis."

Picked up by the ideologically similar Drudge Report website, the piece stated, "The press release is written in the same way an announcement for a trip abroad would be, only Brimmer is only going to Minneapolis."

Brimmer is Esther, the assistant secretary of state for organizational affairs. And "only going to Minneapolis" misses the point: Domestic outreach helps global diplomacy.

This is especially true in Minnesota, said Brimmer, who on Nov. 19 met with several people who represent institutions that are exemplars of the "think global, act local" ethos.

"Minneapolis was a natural because you already have such an international outlook," Brimmer told an editorial writer. "It's quite striking, because not only have Minnesotans been so generous in terms of hosting refugees, many of your nongovernmental organizations are involved on human rights, agricultural and environmental issues, and all sorts of issues of global import. You also have a major graduate school of foreign affairs" -- the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, where Brimmer met with faculty and students.

As important as what Brimmer said is what she heard -- particularly about Somalia.

"Because of the support of the international community, including the United States, there is now a new sense of hope about Somalia," she said. "So to hear from Minnesotans how they might be able to contribute to this effort, how the skills they've learned about elections -- democracy, society, economic empowerment -- how they can bring that to their homeland, their relatives, was really exciting."

The State Department, our state and even the world can benefit from such ongoing diplomatic outreach.

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