I was doing some research for something else when I found an old (previously secret) telegram in the archives of the American State Department that made me laugh.
In August of 1976, the “Stejar of Scornicesti”, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceasescu made a rare trip to Chisinau, which was then part of the Soviet Union. He then went to Russia to meet the Soviet leader Brezhnev (although that part of his visit was scrubbed from the Romanian media), apparently to try and see if he could get some economic aid from the Soviets.
The part that made me laugh was the telegram writer’s analysis of how these negotiations would turn out:
However, we [in the American embassy in Bucharest] see no indication that economic situation here has degenerated to such an extent that substantive Romanian concessions would appear necessary [to get the Soviets to provide more economic aid].
Rather, Ceausescu may be indulging in the ancient Romanian art of parlaying as little as he can give for as much as he can get. We suspect he will find the Soviets as hard bargainers as ever and that [the] present phase of Soviet-Romanian relationship will be of limited duration.
Truer words were never spoken, as this “ancient art” is alive and well today in 2014.
It should be noted that three years earlier Ceasescu had gone to Washington, DC and gotten his pathetic ego stroked by the savvy Americans, which convinced him to put his entire country in debt to western bankers.
Ceausescu then used some of this money to build substandard factories that were rusty pieces of junk by 1989. Other enormous sums were wasted on such useless projects as the (still unfinished) Bucharest-Danube Canal, where workers feasted on daily meals of meat and Pepsi. One of those workers was a young Radu Stroe, now an old Communist dinosaur who yesterday was finally pressured into resigning for his part in the Frozen Tears disaster.
As for the Soviets, they were indeed hard bargainers as nothing substantive came out of Ceasescu’s semi-secret trip. By 1984, the relationship had been completely broken and on Christmas Day 1989 old Nicolae was lying against a dirty wall in Tirgoviste with his brains blown out.