SEPTEMBER 11, 2012
In an example of diplomacy gone amok, the Obama Administration has launched a first-of-its-kind Diplomatic Culinary Partnership at the U.S. State Department, the executive agency responsible for the nation’s international relations.
The new State Department initiative “will elevate the role of culinary engagement in America’s formal and public diplomacy efforts,” according to an agency announcement. This is taking international diplomacy efforts, a cornerstone of the Obama presidency, where they have never gone before; the kitchen.
In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged this week that food isn’t traditionally thought of as a diplomatic tool, though she pointed out that “sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries and build bridges in a way that nothing else can.” Then Clinton said that “culinary engagement” can “further intercultural dialogue and strengthen bilateral relationship.”
That’s why her agency created this innovative new tool. Chefs from across the country will be selected to participate in public diplomacy programs that engage foreign audiences abroad as well as those visiting the U.S. To accomplish this mission the State Department has created a new American Chef Corps that will compile a roster of cooks who will contribute their time and unique talents, not to mention their culturally diverse dishes.
This may seem like a bit much, even for a president who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.” Who could forget when Obama proudly presented the United Nations with his new international diplomacy model for the 21st century?
Then again, the president and his wife also seem to be obsessed with food. In 2010 Obama named the family’s personal Chicago cook, Sam Kass, “Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives.” That means Kass, an expert in healthy cuisine, is the White House food czar. First Lady Michelle Obama refers to Kass as a “partner in crime.”
The president has also spent record amounts of taxpayer dollars to eradicate “food insecure households” by promoting food stamps and getting a record number of people—46 million and growing—to depend on them. The commander-in-chief also signed his wife’s $4.5 billion signature law to control the American diet under the auspice of ending childhood hunger in low-income neighborhoods.
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