WASHINGTON – Sometimes a handshake can mean quite a lot. U.S. President Richard Nixon’s outstretched hand to Zhou Enlai in 1972 marked the end of a quarter-century of Chinese-American estrangement. The decidedly bro-ey handshake between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Group of 20 summit last week was also laden with symbolism.
That handshake was, no doubt, a pointed reminder to Washington that the Saudis are willing to explore other geopolitical options if the U.S. gets tough in response to the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Yet it was also indicative of a broader trend that is reshaping global politics.