Usually, it takes two to tango
The image of Susan Rice, US President Barack Obama’s UN representative, while standing in front of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambassador to the same post, Vitaly Churkin, never leaves my mind. The scene was on Nov. 4, 2013, seconds after the UN Security Council voting session on Assad’s use of chemical weapons against Syrians. Churkin, in that session, used the Veto to kill any possibility for holding Assad responsible for gassing his own people.
Miss Rice’s facial expressions then brought to my mind the image of the Mona Lisa (Jokanda). I asked myself: was she sad, angry, frustrated, happy, excited, spaced-out or what? One thing, I was sure of: Churkin was not paying much attention to her. There was some contempt in the way he was treating her. She talked and talked and talked. I couldn’t tell what she was saying verbally but I could guess from her body posture that she was appreciative of what Churkin did.
The words she used in her linguistic intervention were like poison when she referred to the criminal act perpetrated by the Assad regime in using chemical weapons. But that appreciation of what Churkin did which I read through her nonverbal behavior was in return for exempting her from vetoing the resolution herself.
That kind of hidden harmony is one of its kind. It reminds me of how the Iranian politicians go about conducting their political affairs; they say something and do the opposite, and vice versa. The roots of such a behavior or stand runs down deep into culturally religious state of mind called “taqiah” (hiding your real intentions). Rice practiced that beautifully.
That is possibly a reflection of her president’s stand towards the Syrian case. The man is so concerned with how things look or would look rather than with what they really are. All the talks he made concerning Syria starting from his Red Line, Assad illegitimacy and the Russians’ failing in Syria reflect keeping something inside and projecting something else. We don’t know whether this has anything to do with his father’s name, Hussein, in its modern Iranian sense.
The clearest realization of the tango American-Russian dance is seen, felt, and even tasted in the chemistry between the foreign ministers of the two countries. Sometimes one feels that Lavrov is speaking when Mr. Kerry is making a tough statement. What Kerry wants to say but cannot for certain reasons finds its way to Mr. Lavrov’s lips.
Syrians, because of the special relationship between the US and Israel, have considered the US an accomplice with Israel’s aggression against the latter’s usurpation of their rights. They didn’t experience any Russian aggression, as they usually expect what is negative to come from the US. It turned out that the Russians were “honest” and “transparent” in their hostility but the Americans rewarded the Syrians with hostility in an implicit manner, i.e., the “taqiah” way. No wonder why their tragedy has been going on for five years.
Usually it takes two to tango, but in the Obama era, when it comes to the Syrian affair, doing politics harmoniously as such doesn’t seem to require or take two to tango; one would suffice.