Barack Obama’s Body Language at Nuclear Security Summit Shows How He Feels About Fellow World Leaders and Vice Vera


In these recent series of photos taken at the Nuclear Security Summit, Barack Obama’s body language  shows a  range of emotion,. It shows   how he really feels about certain world leaders and how    genuinely  feel about him.

 Because the body doesn’t lie, if you closely examine President Barack Obama’s body language and facial language you can see exactly what he thinks of certain world leaders and what they in turn think about him.


While he is considerably taller  than a lot of the other leaders, Obama;s height does not factor in concerning  what I have observed facial and body language wise. His different reactions towards various leaders range from  complete dislike and anger,  tension, condescension, deference, to  extreme friendliness.



Perhaps the clearest example of no love lost between two world leaders can be seen between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and  Barack Obama. Sarkozy clearly does not like Obama. First of all his body is turned away from Obama. They are also both looking in different directions which means that they are both not like- minded .

When a person puts up their forhand  hand like you see Sarkozy doing it says “ stay away from me”  or “keep your distance. It is not a welcoming gesture by any means.  It blocks communication and contact.   When you do not see a palm of the hand facing up, you can rest assured that  it is not a welcoming gesture.  

Obama has a very tense grin which speaks volumes. While  his lips may be smiling, his eyes are not doing  any smiling. You do not see high raised cheeks.  This indicates that his smile is not genuine in the presence of the French leader.

 Also Obama’s  hand, which he is about to place on Sarkozy’s shoulder  as a power play and a means to gain the upper hand,   appears  claw-like and cupped. This indicates anger.

  Also as  both leaders hold their respective hand at their side you can see tension in their hands and fingers as their hands are slightly cupped. This indicates both tension and anger between the two.  

So body language- wise we see that these two leaders are clearly not on the same page and clearly do not  like one another.


Baseds on his cupped hand and the distance he is keeping between himself and  Israeli Deputy Deputy  Prime Minister of Intelligence,  Dan Meridor,   Obama  is clearly disturbed and angry that Israeli  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t show up and instead sent his Deputy Prime Minister.

Obama cocks his head to the side ,  indicating doubt and not being sure of the motive of sending a Deputy of Intelligence.

Obama is clearly uncomfortable and not very welcoming. Obama is also very stiff, indicating tension and coldness  on his part.

On the other hand,  Dan Meridor is quite  warm and welcoming. He leans in and offers his hand,  which is on top in a firm grip. It shows confidence.  He is showing  a very open  greeting,  but unfortunately it is not being reciprocated by Obama. 


The US and Canada have always had a great relationship with one another on political front. In the past , whenever you saw US or Canadian leaders together you could see the warmth between them body language- wise.

 But in this photo, you would never know that the US and Canada were allies and had a good relationship.

Whenever anyone points a finger at you, like Obama is doing to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, it is a very bad sign. It is a clear display of anger  and hostility.

  Obama’’s other hand is tense and cupped, also indicating anger. His body is stiff and pulled away which indicates a distancing between the two.

Canadian Prime Minister Harper looks like a school body being admonished. He is very angry as indicated by his definitely cupped fist- like  hand gesture positioned at his side. He is looking down, which is also a bad sign and a signal of embarrassment.His body is stiff and his forehead is tense which indicates anger. His body is still and is turned away from Obama, off to the side,  as he is not directly facing him.

It is very clear from this photo that there is something very wrong between them, No one ever points their finger at another in Western culture without it being a sure signal of aggression and anger.

Conversely no one looks down and is turned away from the person to whom they are speaking unless there is severe tension and upset in the relationship.        


In stark contrast to this body language with French President Sarkozy, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Obama’s body language  shows deference and reverence to the leaders of super powers China and Russia and to the richest country Saudi Arabia and to  Pakistan, the country known to allegedly  harbor the majority of the terrorists including our public enemy number one ,  Osama Bin Laden. 

Obama rounds his shoulder, his arm is bent and he is on the receiving end of the handshake, This clearly indicates  his lack of showing power. He also looks down  at the ground which clearly shows that he is not he Alpha leader as he actually  bows in deference   to the Communist Chinese leader Hu Jintao

Since they are both about the same height, Obama needed to look at the Chinese leader eyeball to eyeball, Lowering your physical position in many Asian cultures means that you are saying you are not as powerful or important as the person to whom you are greeting. This is a very bad way to convey strength of  a leader of a super power. 

Perhaps Obama misunderstood that China is not Japan. It is not a Chinese custom to bow.  It is a Japanese custom to do so , when you are in Japan. But when you are in the United States ,  as were the members who attended this Nuclear Security Summit, you need to do as the Americans do and not bow, but rather  shake hands.

Obama’s gesture of bowing to the Chinese leader, who in stark contast had the body language of a King, with ramrod straight posture and squared shoulders and direct eye contact with his head  lifted upward and strong stiff outstretched arm with a firm handshake grip.  Hu Jintao shows that he  has the power in his  handshake as his thumb presses over the middle of the back of  Obama’s hand.

He is clearly in control over Obama from a body language standpoint. This is not a good message to put forth from a fell0w leader of another super power. In my view it shows weakness on Obama’s part, a message I am sure he does not want to relay. Unfortunately he did so with his body language.

Obama needed to show the same regal posture he showed  with the leaders of lesser powered countries like Norway and Poland. He needed to stand up straight a nd look at Hu Jintao eyeball to eyeball.

 His shoulders needed to be squared back and his head needed to be up. The message that Obama sent to the Asian world by his deferrential  body language is that he is not a strong leader and that he literally bows to the strength of the Chinese.

Also regal and king- like is Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev.He will not allow Obama to engage in a power gestures of placing his hand on  Medvedev’s shoulder. Instead, he  counteracts Obama’s  power gesture by placing his open hand with splayed fingers across Obama’s elbow. In doing so, he  even takes up more room,  grasping Obama’s body as he  places this thumb on Obama’s bicep and presses down on it. He also leans back from Obama.

Obama’s head is turned to the side and bowed, thereby  indicating deference.  Obama  tries to lean in towards the Russian leader who will have no part of it as he  backs away with his upper body.

We continue to see Obama’s bowing and weaker behavior from a body language point of view as he stands next to the Russian leader. Obama places his hand on Medvedev’s shoulder which learly repulses Medvedev.

 That he why Medvedev moved his entire arm forward  as you can see in the above photo. You can also see that Medvedev cups his hand in contrast to Obama’s open hand,  as further indication that he does not welcome Obama’s power gesture. Medvedev’s uncomfortable and tense facial language also speaks to his discomfort.

Even though Obama attempts to show his power  with his hand on the shoulder gesture, the forward  thrust of his body language and facial language belie him.

Obama  is tense and frowning,  indicating insecurity , which is highlighted by his rounded shoulders and bowed head.  He does not show strength of leadership in this body language stance.

With the Saudi Arabian Prime Minister of Intelligencce  Prince  Muquib  al ‘Saud’s body language is regal,strong and indeed prince- like with his straight posture,  Obama is also round shouldered  and bowing, albeit  not as intensely as he did to the Chinese leader. 

Obama’s  lower body andbuttocks are back while his upper body leans forward, His facial language with pursed lip shows deference as well.

Obama also tries his hand on the shoulder, ” I like you”  gesture with King Addullah of Jordan, who pulls awy from it, as he turns his shoulder up towards the President.

 King Abdullah looks very king like with his straight ramrod posture and no doubt does not want to be seen in a  formal photo being man handled by anyone, let alone an American President.

Even though King Abdullah is smiling,  there does appear to be some tension in his face,  indicating a slight discomfort with Obamas gesture.

Obama leans in towards the King, not only with his shoulder and upper body but with his head.  The King does not reciprocate,thereby leaving an obvious physical distance between the two.

   Obama’s leaning in towards the Kings shows  his deference  towards the Jordianian King.

 .Obama also shows bowing and deference  with Pakistani President Yusif Reza Gilanai.  He is ramrod stiff and doesn’t even look at Obama.

 Obama is looking down and bowing, as likewise  he does not look at the Pakistani leader.  Obama’s  other hand  is in a gesture as to accommodate the Pakistani leader.


Obama continues to show deference as he bows to Germany’s leader Angela Merkel. He leans into her and clearly likes her a lot as he does a double handshake and looks at her eye to eye.

She however, had the upper hand body language wise as she reaches forward to touch his shoulder. Her head is tilted and she has a genuine smile as does Obama.

 In fact there is a softness in Obama’s face as he greets Merkel, indicating a warm connection between the two world leaders.


 The mutual hand touching and mirrored facial expression where both leader’s eyes and lips show that they are in synch with one another. Their body language further  indicates that  there is genuine affection towards Obama and  South African leader Jacob  Zuma.

This genuine open handed splayed fingered bear hug between Brazil’s leader Luiz Lula and Obama shows genuine and sincere affection. Their respective  head and chin,  resting on one another’s shoulder confirms their extreme warmth and closeness towards one another.

Looking at their  facial expression  and the  way each of these to leaders literally  light up  when they look at one we can see a tremendous closeness.and lots of warmth and affection.

 Obama smiles a genuine smile with his eyes crinkling and his lips parted. India’s  Prime Minister Monmohan Singh has an expression of knowingness as his bright eyes  with raised cheeks along with his warm smile and direct eye contact  indicate that he is in the presence of a good friend.

There is clearly a lot of mutual love and respect between the two world leaders.

 We may recall that Obama hosted his first formal  State  dinner for the Indian leader several months ago where the social climbing White House party Crashers  the Salahi’s- Michaela and Tareq  crashed the event.


So Obama clearly has his favorites. There are those leaders he likes, if not loves, and there are those whom he obviously  cannot stand, as determined by his body and facial language towards them.

There are those to whom he shows deference, while are others to whom he shows anger. To  others  he shows  arrogance . 

 Still there are other to whom he shows extreme confidence  as in the case of Finland’s leader Halonen.  His body language  may even  be perceived as condescending. 

 When there is a lot of physical distance betweentwo people  and they have different emotional expressions or are looking in  different directions as in  the case of Mexico’s President  Felipe Calderone  and President Obama, they usually are not like minded.

Obama’s looking down while Calderone looks directly at him appears as rude andindicates  that he is not as focused on him.  


Even though  there is no physcial   contact with a handshake  as in the case of Obama and Norway’s leader  Jens Stoltzenberg there is a mutual likability between the two as indicated by the position of their feet.

When two people’s  feet are pointed atone another in the same direction, there is usually mutual respect . You can be assured that they both have pleasant feelings towards one another.   

The bottom line is  that even though we may not be privy to their direct conversations, we can learn a great deal as we read   between the lines when we look at Obama’s body language in relation  to his fellow world leaders.



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