The Ancient Romanian Art

Enjoying your soybean dinners, citizens!
Enjoying your soybean dinners, citizens?

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.

9 thoughts on “The Ancient Romanian Art

  1. Hi Sam,

    For the sake of freedom of speech, please either (a) moderate the comment I left on earlier today, or (b) explain how your blog post does [not] perpetrate generalized racist and slandering preconceptions against Romanians.

    Preferably both.

    I feel like you should make it clearer what the point in your blog post is.


    1. Poti sa ne explici, te rog, lui Sam, celorlalti cititori de pe blog si mie, de ce trebuie sa utilizezi insulte? Sam nu a facut decat sa redea un document istoric despre o caracteristica generala a acestei natiuni.
      Daca nu esti de acord cu cele afirmate mai sus, adu argumente impotriva, nu injura si insulta, pentru ca prin aceasta nu faci decat sa ne nemultumesti pe toti ceilalti, si sa jignesti un oaspete in aceasta tara!


      1. Ca “oaspete” in aceasta tara, Sam are si el minima obligatie de a nu-si jigni gazdele. Sau nu are?
        Cat despre fondul problemei, afirmatia telegramei in sine e o idiotenie si/sau o dovada de ipocrizie. Vreau si eu exemplul unei tari care intotdeauna in politica externa a negociat cu sinceritate si s-a tinut de cuvant! Serios, chiar vreau macar un exemplu!


      2. Just because he is a guest doesn’t make him and his opinion more (or less) legitimate, and it most certainly does not exempt him from being called out on saying insulting things.

        Westerners **LOVE** to pick on Romania, playing on the people’s poverty and low self-esteem in order to make Romanians feel inferior, and in order to stroke their own ego. Seriously, open up half of UK’s newspapers and you’ll find “Romanians are …” slanders painted everywhere. It is a subtle and systematic form of racism aking to bullying the poor/fat/gay kid in high school, and isolating him from the rest of crowd in order to stunt his growth as an individual.

        Sam, as a citizen of a country which practiced extensive slavery, sponsors coups, encourages income disparity, embraces the death penalty, and lets its vanishing middle-class citizens go bankrupt without health insurance, I think you should descend from your ivory tower and understand that you are not the authority on what Romanians (or any other ethnic group) are, or are not, and that dehumanizing 20 million people by putting them in the same bucket is about as true and as righteous as the statement “Americans are fat and …”. Some of them are, some of them aren’t. They are all PEOPLE.

        It is up to you how you decide to project your personal [borderline racist] opinions. I picked up on the fact that you probably have a certain level of education in humanities. I would like to say that half of you blog posts strike me as way beneath that level of education.

        Yours respectfully,


  2. So, you came across an old telegram with a racist remark, and decided that you would write a blog post backing it up, and singling out Romanian politicians as being dishonest. As if the politicians of any country in the world (*especially* America) were honest.

    What exactly is the point you’re trying to make, and how is this “ancient Romanian art” not a generalizing slander that feeds racism?


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