Because history is rife with wars sparked by the slightest perceived insult, diplomacy is a high and dangerous art.
Now, as the U.S. seeks the support of other nations in a military strike against Syria, every subtle movement of world leaders is analyzed, critiqued and probed.
Prior to President Obama joining 19 other world leaders at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, the seating chart was changed to keep the U.S. president as far from Russian leader Vladimir Putin as possible.
Russia, a longtime ally of Syria, is vehemently opposed to any strike on the Mideast nation.
Obama, meanwhile, has publicly stated Syria’s government is using poison gas on its own people.
“This attack is an assault on human dignity,” said Obama outside the White House, a stoic Vice President Joe Biden at his side. “It also presents a serious danger to our national security. … In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted.”
Putin, however, says the U.S. should turn over any evidence of poison gas use to the U.N. Security Council.
Obama, who has likely learned quite a few things about diplomacy from the ever-cautious Biden, has said Putin’s body language is reminiscent of a “bored student.”
Putin, a former KGB officer who enjoys cameras, said “appearances can be deceiving” before making several presidents — including a German — laugh while strutting past Obama at the opening of the summit.
These are serious times, clearly.
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