"Vladimir, I've taken you to Camp David, I've taken you to Crawford, I've even brought you home to meet my parents in Maine.  In fact, you and I have seen each other eye to eye in locations all over the world, and yet you still speak of us being hostile to the new Russia.  Truth be told, sometimes I think you are the one who actually wants to be back in the USSR."

"George W-ayovich, so you want to let a few Eastern European countries into your NATO club?  I guess that makes some smaller places feel larger.  But please don't consider immediate neighbors of ours such as Georgia and Ukraine, since that would make us feel smaller.  And that protective shield you want to put up in Poland?I'm comforted because you say it's due to Iran, but why then is everyone in the room looking at me?"

"Because they know you're not used to hearing anyone disagree with you.  Now look, we in the West have given you your own little Winter Olympics to organize, so why don't you stay down here in Sochi – it's a very nice place, thank you so much for your hospitality – and make the 2014 Games your #1 "retirement" project?"

"Ah, between us lame ducks, I will leave that to my ‘successor' — whatever his name is!  You know, I remember that the 1980 Olympics were about Afghanistan and maybe the 2014 games are a little bit about it too, though those Western Europeans think that – huh! — this will keep our energy flowing to them.  I know you need our permission to continue transiting Russia for your War on Terror, and I will grant you this because you smiled so nicely when I showed you my karate black belt, but of course I will need a few small things in return."

"Red Sox season tickets?  Augusta National membership?  A few extended Distinguished Fellow stints at some of our leading lefty universities?  How about a hunting trip with the Vice President and Hugo Chavez? " 

"No, I only want World Trade Organization membership for my country – so many beeznessmen tell me they won't invest here until we are allowed to join – as well as an invitation to the NEMA Annual Meeting."

"Vladimir, those WTO membership negotiations have been going on for a few years now and your people haven't made any concessions yet.  Russia's a big, resource rich country that's getting richer quickly, which is why lots of folks around here would like to invest in or sell to your energy industry for starters.  Yet I hear things are still a bit opaque and corrupt in the Rodina (Mother Russia).  To join the WTO you have to agree to get with the reform program a bit.  Besides, Capitol Hill would need to sign off on all this eventually, and you're not exactly popular up there.

"Well, one thing I learned back in my KGB days was to always deal from a position of strength.  Perhaps you can prevail upon some of your comrades there in light of the, shall we say, other factors in our countries' relationship.  Now what about NEMA?!"

"I think they'll return our calls.  But could you tell me why them?  After all, maybe it's because the business conditions are so rough in Russia, maybe it's just an acknowledgement that the European companies are a little closer to the action, maybe no one wants to tip off their competitors (as was the case with China a few years ago), but in any event their member companies haven't exactly been flooding NEMA staff with questions about your country."

"Anything is better than being a former Russian president at home over Halloween weekend, and of course I've heard so much about the location.  You tell them I won't get in the way, but will just linger in the background, watching.  I've always been a big fan of conformity assessment."


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