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Biden and Returning to the Tango

Biden and Returning to the Tango

Monday, 11 July, 2022 - 07:15
Ghassan Charbel
Ghassan Charbel is the editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Tango experts say that this dance seems simple at first glance, but it is not. Its mastery requires a firm conviction in the need for it, psychological and physical fitness, and the ability to listen deeply to the partner, to his aspirations, fears and obsessions.


The dance cannot be performed by one of its two dancers, but needs both, to synchronize the steps and restore harmony.


One of the conditions for success is not to dictate your will to your partner, or to demand that he/she copies you. Difference enriches the dance, and commitment is the guarantee. In this world, there is an increasing need for the tango.


What applies on the relationship between individuals is also true of the relationship between states. The dance is based on an accurate reading of mutual benefits, and each dance needs constant maintenance, based on interests and long-distance calculations.


The United States is an economic, political, military and technological giant. Its steps are sometimes affected by the change of administrations and interpretations.


The dance sometimes confuses it, but the realistic calculations overcome everything else. Present and future interests have the final say.


No giant can dance solo, there must be partners, and there must be viable and sustainable partnerships. There is no escape from returning to the origins of the tango.


An observer of international affairs has the right to ask difficult and belated questions: Would the world have reached the current situation if the United States was keen to perform the tango with Russia, which emerged from the Soviet rubble? Would Russia have felt the need for a major revenge project that Vladimir Putin was assigned to carry out in response to the partner’s obsession with victory over the origins of the “tango”? What is left of the dance when the NATO alliance moves its pawns towards the Russian borders? Isn’t the first condition for dancing listening deeply to your partner’s concerns? It’s too late, the earthquake happened.


Post-earthquake policies are not the same. The issue is confirmed when the earthquake is wide-ranging and warns of dire political, military and economic consequences, and in areas far from its current arena. In this context, we can say that the Ukrainian earthquake is unprecedented, not only in the post-Berlin Wall world, but also in the post-World War II world.


From the very first moment, the Russian war in Ukraine jolted the office of President Joe Biden. It cannot be considered a border conflict, and it is more dangerous than the simple return of war rhetoric to Europe.


It is a massive reversal of the model that defeated and destroyed the Soviet Union. It is not just that a permanent member of the Security Council is engaged in a war to change maps and features. It is a war fought with the military arsenal of a nuclear state, as well as weapons of energy and wheat.


Biden has found himself in a difficult situation.


Abandoning Ukraine is more than America and the West can tolerate, and sliding into a direct confrontation between NATO and the Russian army is beyond the world’s capacity to bear.


The Americans and Europeans supported Ukraine to make the Russian invasion too costly and unrepeatable. It soon became clear that the world had fallen into the trap of a long war that is difficult to resolve and difficult to get out of.


Amid these circumstances, the Jeddah meetings are being held this week on Saudi territory, featuring an American-Saudi summit and US-Gulf-Arab top-level talks. The mere convening of these meetings means the return of the Middle East to the scope of interest in Washington, which had distanced itself from this region in order to contain the rise of China.


Washington realized that the Middle East is still a “necessity”, and still holds the keys to stabilizing energy markets, despite changes that occurred in the United States’ need for the region’s oil.


The US administration did not need a great effort to remember the importance of the stability of the Middle East and the safety of its energy supplies, at a time when the features of a difficult European autumn are emerging due to the dependence of the Old Continent on Russian gas. This is not limited to considerations pertaining to Russia alone, but also to China and Iran.


America cannot resign from the fate of the Middle East when it becomes obvious that developments in Ukraine are part of a wide program of a complete reversal of the balances that existed in the world five months ago.


It is unsurprising to see these important meetings convene in Saudi Arabia, with Gulf, Egyptian, Jordanian and Iraqi participation. The Kingdom’s Arab, Islamic and international weight has increased in recent years due to the renaissance launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that transformed the country into an engine of stability and prosperity.


The new Saudi Arabia is a crucial partner to achieve the goal of a stable and prosperous Middle East.


Years ago, Saudi Arabia engaged in a workshop to improve the quality of life for its citizens, which made it a source of inspiration throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds. Partnerships, bridges and relations based on mutual interests and responsibility in dealing with regional and international files. Progress has turned the page on the days when extremist ideas were able to confuse, lure and paralyze society and cripple ambitions.


America’s relations with its Arab friends in the region, including Saudi Arabia, have endured difficult tests. Many countries felt that America had moved away from the origins of the tango and the rules of listening to partners and understanding their concerns regarding old and new issues, which extend from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to Yemen, through the nuclear agreement with Iran, and Tehran’s insistence on exporting its destabilization policy.


While it is necessary to wait for the results; it is clear that the Biden administration is trying to return to the origins of the “tango,” because the Ukrainian earthquake will change the past equations.


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