This is the third nonverbal evaluation of Bashar al-Assad highlighting his recent interview in Damascus by Charlie Rose. On the very next day the serendipitous/accidental/off-hand remark by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was reflected back as a serious idea by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Last night President Obama asked the U.S. Congress to back-burner an approval vote on military action against the Syrian government's forces so as to diminish their ability to deploy chemical weapons (a vote that was increasing looking that he would lose). It has certainly been a whirlwind the last few days.
The following is a transcript of the above video - a short section of the interview. Afterwards yet another particularly telling nonverbal signal is discussed.
CHARLIE ROSE: "The President is prepared to strike, ah, and perhaps we'll get the authorization of Congress or not. Ah, the question then is - would you give up chemical weapons if it would prevent the president from authorizing a strike?"
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "Ah ..."
CHARLIE ROSE: "If that is a deal you would accept?"
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "Again, you always imply that we have chemical weapons. [Laughs]"
CHARLIE ROSE: "I have to because that's the assumption of the President."
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "Yeah"
CHARLIE ROSE: "That is his assumption and he's the one who will order the strike."
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "It's his problem if-- if he has an assumption. But for us, in Syria, we have principles. We'll do anything to prevent the region from another crazy war. It's not only Syria. Because it will start in Syria ..."
CHARLIE ROSE: "You'll do anything to prevent the region from ... "
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "The region."
CHARLIE ROSE: "... having another crazy war?"
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "Yes."
CHARLIE ROSE: "You recognize the consequences for you if there is a strike?"
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: "It's not about me. It's about the region."
At 0:27 just after Rose says, "That is his assumption and he's the one who will order the strike" - al-Assad's intertwined fingers straighten (We do not see how long this lasts because the camera view changes). This body language sign is a particularly strong signal of anxiety. Notice also how he stutters, "It's his problem if-- if he has an assumption ..." - a common paralanguage manifestation of anxiety.
Many have said that al-Assad was calm during the interview. While he was more polished than he has been compared with some of his other public appearances - and while his words to some may have seemed composed - the Syrian dictator demonstrated multiple anxiety tells. This was but one. He strongly fears the wrong end of a cruise missile. This legit fear has moved him to a different course of action in the ensuing days.
When the verbal and the nonverbal signals are not congruent - it is the nonverbal that always 'speaks' the truth. How many times have you been deceived because you believed someone's words and missed their body language signals?
What other nonverbals did you spot in this video?
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2517: Bashar al-Assad Fears Over-Throw if U.S. Attacks, Body Language Tell During Charlie Rose Interview, Part II
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2516: Bashar al-Assad's Interview with Charlie Rose, Body Language Tells, Part I
Negotiation Body Language Secret # 387: John Kerry's Extended and Intertwined Fingers
Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2408: Sen. Kelly Ayotte's Anxiety & Regret via Senators Graham & McCain - Republican Body Language in Response to President Obama's National Defense University Speech
Nonverbal Communication Analysis # 2281: Inaugural Luncheon Anxiety Barack Obama's Body Language Michelle's Mirroring
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2450: Daniel Radcliffe on The Graham Norton Show - Deception, Mirroring and Anxiety
Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2493: Jewel in Disguise at Karaoke Bar, Body Language Cues to Lack of Nervousness