G20: Putin, Obama in diplomatic showdown

World leaders at the G20 summit in Russia are on edge due to the threat of U.S. military action against Syria. (AP Photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin demonstrates epic diplomacy skills to a poker-faced crowd of world leaders. (AP)

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.

President Obama seeks cooperation with Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. (Reuters)

President Obama will stop at nothing to get the support of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff. (Reuters)

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.

More serious news:

36 comments Add your comment

MadVlad

September 6th, 2013
7:49 am

“Mr. Obama, tell me more about this ‘Dancing With The Stars’ of yours and perhaps we talk detente…”

[...] G20: Putin, Obama in diplomatic showdownAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)World leaders at the G20 summit are on edge due to the threat of U.S. military action against Syria. (AP). Because history is rife with wars sparked by the slightest Read More [...]

Tim T.

September 6th, 2013
8:38 am

With the exception of Japan, S. Korea and 1/2 of Europe, the U.S. has no friends in the world. The U.S. has absolutely no friends in the Middle East. We have never accomplished anything over there and never will.

joe

September 6th, 2013
8:51 am

Let the Syrians fight it out themselves…its pretty much a civil war between the shiites and sunnis, or fractions thereof. The middle eastern countries have had a history of religious based fighting and nothing the US, Russia, China or any EU country can do will change that. This isn’t our fight…unless someone attacks us or one of our close allies, we don’t need to be involved. If Obama does anything, it may trigger WW3. He has enough problems within our borders, we don’t need this.

Peace Lover

September 6th, 2013
8:57 am

If we are counting on diplomacy to keep the species alive, then we are truly screwed. The US government (both major parties) put aside diplomacy a long time ago. It has been replaced by naked violence and aggression. We impose sanctions which are fundamentally acts of war. They were used to provoke the Japanese into attacking us at Pearl Harbor and they were one of the main motivations behind 9-11 (as well as the 1.5 million innocent Iraqis that dies as a result of those sanctions). We fly drones over sovereign nations and then murder people without due process with Hellfire missiles. Hundreds if not thousands of innocents have been killed by these in countries that have never attacked us or threatened us.

Now because Obama needs to save face, Qatar and Saudi Arabia need to protect their oil and gas distribution routes, and countless other economic and political reasons (none of which have ANYTHING to do with the safety or security of the United States), we are risking WW3 with Russia and China.

Diplomacy and compromise ended the Cuban Missile Crisis without a shot being fired. Diplomacy doesn’t matter anymore to the warhawks in the two major parties or the military-industrial complex profiteers who feed mercilessly off the profits that are gained through the deaths of civilians the world over. Let us hope that our Congress hears the 90% this time (yes, that’s the current poll number) and does everything it can to stop the madmen from destroying the human race.

Putin Mocks Sissy 0bama

September 6th, 2013
9:00 am

Putin will have 0bama The Coward dropping to his knees before him like he was Larry Sinclair.

The rest of the world has to be L0L’ing at us for electing such a jive-talking, moronic, full-of-garbage buffoon, not once but twice.

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
9:42 am

@Putin Mocks Sissy 0bama -
Thank you for taking off your tin foil hat, sheet and combat boots. What branch of the homegrown terrorist group(s) known as the GOP/tea party are you affiliated? Are you a klanman, skinhead, militia or birther? Your family, friends and neighbors know who you are. Welcome to the 21st Century and the civilized world.

Putin Mocks Sissy 0bama

September 6th, 2013
9:51 am

Ronald Reagan kept vital American Intelligence secrets ranked as TOP SECRET to protect them from threats such as Russia, but Barry is perhaps better known for keeping everything in his administration ON THE DOWN LOW…

…until Eddie Snowden, that is…

Bumper

September 6th, 2013
9:53 am

“This attack is an assault on human dignity,” said Obama…”

That’s a nice sentiment. But human dignity, fairness, human rights and the like are too squishy and nebulous to be the basis for military intervention into the affairs of another sovereign nation. Syria does not represent a threat to our national security, so we need to leave it alone.

Putin Mocks Sissy 0bama

September 6th, 2013
10:01 am

Robert1959,

Are you saying that anyone who disagrees with you is a “klanman, skinhead, militia or birther,” Robert1959?

Is automatic name calling and stereotypical labeling your go-to counterpoint for ANY view contrary to your own, Robert1959?

joe

September 6th, 2013
10:19 am

Typical bed wetting liberal name calling there Robert. If you really think the Tea Party is a terrorist group, what label do you pin on muslim extremists? Progressives perhaps??

Putin Mocks Sissy 0bama

September 6th, 2013
10:25 am

With Russia’s formal new anti-gay laws, does that mean Putin could put our President in prison for his alleged relationship & cheating on his homely bride with Larry Sinclair?

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
10:44 am

@Putin Mocks Sissy 0bama -”Are you saying that anyone who disagrees with you is a “klanman, skinhead, militia or birther,”

Anyone who has no respect for the President of the USA in a time of war must be a extremist and you fit the discription. Your comments about the President of the USA are dis-respectful and un-American. Grow-up and stop acting like a bigoted fool.

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
10:52 am

@Joe – ” you really think the Tea Party is a terrorist group”

The tea party is a collection of homegrown terrorist group(s)- klanmen, skinheads, militia’s, birther’s, etc., and their weapons of choice are hatred, fear and bigotry against the American People.

The American People….
(elderly, disabled, young people, women, minorities, gays & lesbians, Christains, Muslims & Jews,etc.)

Yolanda

September 6th, 2013
11:06 am

@ Robert1959 -

No thinking person, not leaders of other nations or American citizens themselves who actually care about the health and strength of our nation, have any respect for this UN-qualified empty suit with (no spine) pretending to be President of the United States, be it during times of peace or war.

You may swallow the Kool-Aid and whatever else your idol ‘god’ Barry O. is shooting in your face, but don’t bash the rest of us for politely declining to join you, Robert1959.

Gimme a break.

Yolanda

September 6th, 2013
11:10 am

The one great thing about Obama is that you don’t have to be a bigot or racist to dislike him.

You just have to dislike fakes and simpletons.
If you abhor both those types, Obama gives you a 2-for-1 Special.

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
12:22 pm

@Yolanda – “You may swallow the Kool-Aid and whatever else your idol ‘god’ Barry O.”

Yolanda, how old are you? Hatred, fear and bigotry are not family values. You are too young to think and act like a bigot. I feel sorry for you.

notblind

September 6th, 2013
1:08 pm

This is a regional issue and the countries of the region are the ONLY ones that should be considering intervention. It’s time for the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, Turks, etc to put on the BIG BOY clothes and start doing a little policeman duty themselves instead of calling for the American taxpayer to foot the bill. If the locals don’t won’t to get involved then we why should we ?

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
1:21 pm

Here are the four big reasons that Russia wants to protect Assad, the importance of which vary depending on whom you ask, but all of which are probably worth much more to Putin than anything Obama might offer or threaten:

1. Russia has a naval installation in Syria, which is strategically important and Russia’s last foreign military base outside the former Soviet Union.

2. Russia still has a bit of a Cold War mentality, as well as a touch of national insecurity, which makes it care very much about maintaining one of its last military alliances.

3. Russia also hates the idea of “international intervention” against countries like Syria because it sees this as Cold War-style Western imperialism and ultimately a threat to Russia.

4. Syria buys a lot of Russian military exports, and Russia needs the money.

With the exception of the fourth, you might notice that all of these have something to do with the Cold War, which still very much influences Russia’s view of itself, its place in the world and its relationship with the dreaded West. The past is never dead in foreign affairs. It isn’t even past.

notblind

September 6th, 2013
1:47 pm

Google pipelineistan. Syria in chaos benefits the Russian oil and gas stranglehold in Europe .

Get Real

September 6th, 2013
1:54 pm

Robert1959

Now now liberal…don’t get your little panties in a wad.

Obama is a pusskit, get over it

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
2:04 pm

@Get Real – Thank you for taking off your tin foil hat, sheet and combat boots. Welcome to the 21st Century and the civilized world-2013.

Get Real

September 6th, 2013
2:21 pm

Robert1959

I only hope you are just visiting this planet, the mother ship is calling…fresh Kool Aid to drink…multiple flavors

Robert1959

September 6th, 2013
2:46 pm

For all my poor, uneducated, disenfranshised, rightwing, homegrown GOP/tea party extremist/terrorist group(s) – Know the facts before you criticize the President of the USA.

1. What is Syria?
Syria is a country in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s about the same size as Washington state with a population a little over three times as large – 22 million. Syria is very diverse, ethnically and religiously, but most Syrians are ethnic Arab and follow the Sunni branch of Islam. Civilization in Syria goes back thousands of years, but the country as it exists today is very young. Its borders were drawn by European colonial powers in the 1920s.
Syria is in the middle of an extremely violent civil war. Fighting between government forces and rebels has killed more 100,000 and created 2 million refugees, half of them children.

2. Why are people in Syria killing each other?
The killing started in April 2011, when peaceful protests inspired by earlier revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia rose up to challenge the dictatorship running the country. The government responded — there is no getting around this — like monsters. First, security forces quietly killed activists. Then they started kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing activists and their family members, including a lot of children, dumping their mutilated bodies by the sides of roads. Then troops began simply opening fire on protests. Eventually, civilians started shooting back.
Fighting escalated from there until it was a civil war. Armed civilians organized into rebel groups. The army deployed across the country, shelling and bombing whole neighborhoods and towns, trying to terrorize people into submission. They’ve also allegedly used chemical weapons, which is a big deal for reasons I’ll address below. Volunteers from other countries joined the rebels, either because they wanted freedom and democracy for Syria or, more likely, because they are jihadists who hate Syria’s secular government. The rebels were gaining ground for a while and now it looks like Assad is coming back. There is no end in sight.

How did it all go so wrong in Syria?
Before we dive into the theories, you have to understand that the Syrian government really overreacted when peaceful protests started in mid-2011, slaughtering civilians unapologetically, which was a big part of how things escalated as quickly as they did. Assad learned this from his father. In 1982, Assad’s father and then-dictator Hafez al-Assad responded to a Muslim Brotherhood-led uprising in the city of Hama by leveling entire neighborhoods. He killed thousands of civilians, many of whom had nothing to do with the uprising. But it worked, and it looks like the younger Assad tried to reproduce it. His failure made the descent into chaos much worse.

4. Russia still loves Syria and Iran, too. What’s their deal?
Yeah, Russia is Syria’s most important ally. Moscow blocks the United Nations Security Council from passing anything that might hurt the Assad regime, which is why the United States has to go around the United Nations if it wants to do anything. Russia sends lots of weapons to Syria that make it easier for Assad to keep killing civilians and will make it much harder if the outside world ever wants to intervene.
I already told you about the four big reasons that Russia wants to protect Assad. Iran’s thinking in supporting Assad is more straightforward. It perceives Israel and the United States as existential threats and uses Syria to protect itself, shipping arms through Syria to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah and the Gaza-based militant group Hamas. Iran is already feeling isolated and insecure; it worries that if Assad falls it will lose a major ally and be cut off from its militant proxies, leaving it very vulnerable. So far, it looks like Iran is actually coming out ahead: Assad is even more reliant on Tehran than he was before the war started.

5. Why hasn’t the United States fixed this yet?
Because it can’t. There are no viable options. Sorry. The military options are all bad. Shipping arms to rebels, even if it helps them topple Assad, would ultimately empower jihadists and worsen rebel in-fighting, probably leading to lots of chaos and possibly a second civil war (the United States made this mistake during Afghanistan’s early 1990s civil war, which helped the Taliban take power in 1996). The one political option, which the Obama administration has been pushing for, would be for the Assad regime and the rebels to strike a peace deal. But there’s no indication that either side is interested in that, or that there’s even a viable unified rebel movement with which to negotiate.

6. So why would Obama bother with strikes that no one expects to actually solve anything?
It’s true that basically no one believes that this will turn the tide of the Syrian war. But this is important: it’s not supposed to. The strikes wouldn’t be meant to shape the course of the war or to topple Assad, which Obama thinks would just make things worse anyway. They would be meant to punish Assad for (allegedly) using chemical weapons and to deter him, or any future military leader in any future war, from using them again.

7. What’s the big deal with chemical weapons? Assad kills 100,000 people with bullets and bombs but we’re freaked out over 1,000 who maybe died from poisonous gas?
There’s a good case to be made that this is a rare opportunity, at least in theory, for the United States to make the war a little bit less terrible — and to make future wars less terrible.
The whole idea that there are rules of war is a pretty new one: the practice of war is thousands of years old, but the idea that we can regulate war to make it less terrible has been around for less than a century. The institutions that do this are weak and inconsistent; the rules are frail and not very well observed. But one of the world’s few quasi-successes is the “norm” (a fancy way of saying a rule we all agree to follow) against chemical weapons. This norm is frail enough that Syria could drastically weaken it if we ignore Assad’s use of them, but it’s also strong enough that it’s worth protecting. So it’s sort of a low-hanging fruit: firing a few cruise missiles doesn’t cost us much and can maybe help preserve this really hard-won and valuable norm against chemical weapons.

What’s going to happen?
Short-term maybe the United States and some allies will launch some limited, brief strikes against Syria and maybe they won’t. Either way, these things seem pretty certain in the long-term:
• The killing will continue, probably for years. There’s no one to sign a peace treaty on the rebel side, even if the regime side were interested, and there’s no foreseeable victory for either. Refugees will continue fleeing into neighboring countries, causing instability and an entire other humanitarian crisis as conditions in the camps worsen.
• Syria as we know it, an ancient place with a rich and celebrated culture and history, will be a broken, failed society, probably for a generation or more. It’s very hard to see how you rebuild a functioning state after this. Maybe worse, it’s hard to see how you get back to a working social contract where everyone agrees to get along.
• Russia will continue to block international action, the window for which has maybe closed anyway. The United States might try to pressure, cajole or even horse-trade Moscow into changing its mind, but there’s not much we can offer them that they care about as much as Syria.
• At some point the conflict will cool, either from a partial victory or from exhaustion. The world could maybe send in some peacekeepers or even broker a fragile peace between the various ethnic, religious and political factions. Probably the best model is Lebanon, which fought a brutal civil war that lasted 15 years from 1975 to 1990 and has been slowly, slowly recovering ever since. It had some bombings just last week.

Get Real

September 6th, 2013
4:25 pm

I think we all know who is the real racist…..

Criticize a black president for his policies…magically you are a racist..

Seek Help Kool Aid Man

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Theview

September 6th, 2013
8:17 pm

US always will have UK, Canada, Israel and Australia as allies and friend. Maybe small disagreement at time but will back each other up war. What other countries in the world has that? Russia, China, Brazil, India and Middle East ? Everyone else has no allies don’t mention friend. LOL.

notblind

September 7th, 2013
8:01 am

I’m glad to know that we live in a civilized world here in the 21st century. …….. Now what was the original topic????????? Oh yeah, a civil war where atrocities are the norm.

Jack ®

September 8th, 2013
7:11 am

Putin is having a ball with Obama’s discomfort. Obama needs to come home and stop his silly charade of being a world leader. And he needs to come home and do his best to undo the Obamacare debacle.

Jack ®

September 8th, 2013
7:17 am

Just for the record, Robert, those that wore “sheets” were Democrats.

@ Robert1959

September 8th, 2013
7:59 am

What are marvelous copy and paste diatribe. You have done an excellent job at plagiarism and worshipping Obama. How in un American of you to promote a leader who is hated throughout the World. Thanks for displaying your sheer stupidity with us.

Bernie31

September 8th, 2013
2:18 pm

So strange to see the so called Party of National Defense (Republican Party) cower in unanimous retreat, in the face of this true Clear & Present Danger use of WMD in SYRIA. I am the last one, to advocate for the use of Military Intervention. However, if there is a time to commit to such an ACT, it is now.

President Obama is right in his decision to act at this time. What will all of the NAYSAYERS say about this President, if we are faced with such a heinous act anywhere on America’s streets? can any of you imagine the FALLOUT from such an event?

America MUST stand up and say “NO, such use will NOT be tolerated by any Nation,Group or individual, no matter where it is used. As we fast approach the anniversary of September 11, 2001. We must keep our promise to the Nation and the World “NEVER AGAIN”. Never will we stick OUR HEADS in the collective sand again and hope such tragic events, will not visit upon US on American soil.

This planned military intervention is very RISKY, no doubt. However, short of putting Boots on the Ground, this is our best option. Do not think for a minute that the entire WORLD is not sitting and watching as to what America will do in the face of this DANGER? Are we to COWER in FEAR? or will we STAND UP and be the “BRAVE” Nation, we always CLAIM to be?

A ZERO Military response to this use of WMD, will result in a clear message to those who would attempt to inflict such Harm on the U.S., the go ahead and continue its use. Such non action will also give to the BAD GUYS, the Green Light this USE is the winning tactic, that will FRIGHTEN America and its People to their core.

ISRAEL is READY! The Israeli Government and its people know the tragic consequences of Non-Action. They are ready to stand with America in this MISSION. Have any of you noticed or paid attention to the unusual silence from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Bibi, knows what is at stake here and is preparing his people as he should.

I am VERY Proud of this President and his Leadership on the behalf of the American People. President Obama is upholding his promised OATH of OFFICE to protect America from all its enemies foreign or domestic. He is preparing and we as a Nation should support his decision, whatever it maybe. I am confident, whatever his PLANNED course of action. Will be the RIGHT and Honorable course, one can take under such dangerous circumstances.

@ Bernie31

September 9th, 2013
7:28 am

What are marvelous copy and paste diatribe. You have done an excellent job at plagiarism and worshipping Obama. How in un American of you to promote a leader who is hated throughout the World. Thanks for displaying your sheer stupidity with us

Bernie31

September 9th, 2013
8:27 am

@ Bernie31 @ 7:28 am – (3) Three points! First, you are quite welcome!

Secondly, you obviously do not the definition of PLAGIARISM! ( lol) I would suggest using words that one knows its meaning. You surely must be a former APS student from many years ago.

Thirdly, unlike YOU at least I am Brave and Proud enough to USE my REAL NAME and not hide like the faceless WEASEL, you are. :)

@ Bernie31

September 9th, 2013
9:50 am

“Thirdly, unlike YOU at least I am Brave and Proud enough to USE my REAL NAME and not hide like the faceless WEASEL, you are.”

____________________________________

So your real name is Bernie 31? Your first name Bernie, and you have an IQ of 31.

Thank You for confirming the obvious!

Peace Lover

September 10th, 2013
3:17 pm

Robert1959 – A very similar list could be made for Israel, including the constant use of the Veto by the US in the Security Council despite vast majorities of countries voting against the criminal actions of the Israeli government against the Palestinians.

Both the US and Russia are criminal empires that are using innocents as pawns in their great game to rule the world and exploit its resources. It is quite disingenuous to go after the Syrian situation without owning up to how horrible the US government has behaved globally over the past 150 years.