Does size matter when it comes to diplomacy? It’s a fair question as those in the media can attest when it comes to international relations.
For example, in thinking back to the days of the Great Patriotic War (World War II), Joseph Stalin was 5 ft 6 inches tall (168 cm) as was British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Harry Truman was 5ft 9 inches tall.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was 6 ft 2 inches but as he spent most of his time in office in a wheelchair, his height was of little relevance in international affairs. Or was it? Did Roosevelt’s disability cause others to underestimate his resolve? We can also ask as to whether Roosevelt’s condition made him a more powerful personality?
We are convinced that size indeed matters today regards diplomacy in the modern world. Everything from seating charts to photo sessions are determined at least in part by size. At the most recent G8 and G20 Summits in Huntsville, Canada, the tallest leaders included Stephen Harper the Prime Minister of Canada, Prime Minister David Cameron of the UK, and Barrack Obama of the USA.
Russian President Medvedev is 1.62 meters. That’s 161.8 cm (5 ft, 3.5 inches) for Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy West who as of last Thursday didn’t realize that the state of Arizona shares a border with Mexico.
Those who don’t think that size has an impact on diplomacy haven’t heard of the rift between the Uk and France. Yeah, that one. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is a tad sensitive about his height–or lack thereof. Standing, barely, at 165cm (5ft 5in), the French leader was miffed when the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron made jokes about his stature in an incident the Brits now laughingly call ‘Dwarfgate’.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was born in Hamburg, grew up in East Germany as her father was allowed to freely travel back and forth between East and West, and she was awarded a doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry. She may be short, but here at the Mendeleyev Journal we issue a pass to anyone who can spell quantum chemistry, must less write intelligently about it.
The summit was the first for British Prime Minister David Cameron and Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. While tempted to ask the Japanese Minister about his height, we remembered that Kan has earned the nicknames ‘Ira-Kan’ or ‘Fretful-Kan’ due to his short temper. Asking such a sensitive question of a man who married his own first cousin and is reputed to have a short fused temper might not be that smart.
That, dear reader, is the long and short of this report. Some will revile us for this expose, but we feel that a project of this sorts is the kind of reporting which takes journalism to new heights.
(Toronto) We’ve said before that Russian president Dmitry Medvedev embraces new technology quickly. Having just set up a Twitter account earlier in the week, the President now seems to be using it as a diplomatic tool.
In G8 and G20 meetings with Prime Minister David Cameron from the UK, Mr. Medvedev suggested that Mr. Cameron follow his daily Twitter messages. To which the UK Prime Minister promply repled, “As we agreed, I said that I would follow your Twitter feed, now that you’re doing it, but I think also we’ll talk on the telephone, and our foreign ministers are going to meet to work up a fuller agenda. I think that’s very worthwhile.”
Offering his own style of a “reset” with the Brits, Mr. Medvedev admitted that a new beginning was necessary for relations between Moscow and London by saying, “We have come to the conclusion that they require a kind of adjustment. We agree that our bilateral economic and other relations require top-level attention and we are determined to make such relations more efficient and comprehensive.”
PM Cameron stressed that the United Kingdom and Russia had plenty of things to agree upon, including the Middle East peace process, the challenges of Iran, challenges of Islamic radicalisation and the global economy. Mr. Cameron said that ‘it’s very good to have this meeting, to have a stronger bilateral relationship.”
Forget the concept of expensive state dinners; USA president Barrack Obama treated Russian president Dmitry Medvedev to a hamburger on Friday.
In a sense, Mr. Medvedev likely felt right at home: The wait service at Ray’s Hell Burgers is minimal as orders are placed at the counter, customers are given a number, and then orders are delivered to the table. No credit cards are accepted and the seating is not at all spacious.
Of course this was no ordinary piece of beef between a bun, this was a ground prime rib beef creation (10 ounces) at Ray’s Hell Burgers in Arlington. For those not familiar with Washington, DC, Arlington is a northern Virginia suburb not far from the USA Capitol.
Burgers range from 6.95 to above $20 each and both decided on cheeseburgers: Mr. Obama had a Ray’s cheddar cheeseburger with onions, lettuce, tomato and pickles and Mr. Medvedev had a cheddar cheeseburger with onions, jalapeno peppers and mushrooms. ($7.95 each)
Europeans don’t normally eat “sandwiches” with bread on both sides and Mr. Medvedev tried but ended up eating his burger like any good Russian–with one side of bread and the rest of the burger open faced.
Additional toppings are free and sides are corn-on-the-cob and watermelon. Optional sides include a “Mac and 5 Cheeses” along with traditional french fries but with burgers so large many customers don’t bother with a side dish. Mr. Obama suggested they split an order of french fries in the spirit of “bi-lateral cooperation.”
For some customers on this day the attraction was the “Soul Burger Number One” with Applewood smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, Cognac and Sherry sauteed mushrooms, and grilled red Onions.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Obama was the tea-drinker at this meal. He ordered a bottle of Nestle tea while Mr. Medvedev had a 12 ounce bottle of Coca Cola, harkening back to the days when a Cola helped ease earlier leaders into bi-lateral talks.
Russians typically don’t use ice in drinks and both presidents went without ice even though it was a warm and very humid day. In Russia most restaurants don’t serve ice even in summer.
After some joking on the matter, Mr. Obama picked up the tab. At Ray’s the bill is paid before the order is delivered.
The Russian President watched carefully as Mr. Obama paid the bill with cash. In Russia it is the customer’s responsibility to have as close to the amount of exact change as possible, else risking a stern scolding from the cashier and perhaps even being denied service. Also in Russia the money is rarely handed directly to a cashier and then back to the customer, instead there is a small pad where money is placed on the counter and then picked up by the other person.
Despite the success of McDonalds in Russia, most Russians recognize hamburgers as a uniquely American food but feel them to be unhealthy. Echoing that feeling, President Medvedev later thanked President Obama for the meal in their joint press conference but joked, “It’s not quite healthy but it’s very tasty and you can feel the spirit of America.”
There is some difficulty in adjusting to a time zone so vastly different. Mr. Obama termed their afternoon outing as “lunch” but Mr. Medvedev consistently spoke of the meal as “breakfast.”
(Northern California) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is known for his comfortable embrace of emerging technologies. This was yet another day for the president of Russia to reach out in new ways to the modern world.
Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia, has his own Twitter account.
In fact, it was the first thing he accomplished in his initial stop at Silicon Valley in California. Medvedev is an accomplished photographer and experienced blogger, ushering in a new age of communications from the formerly staid walls of the Moscow Kremlin. The establishment of his Twitter account was yet another step in opening up the Kremlin to the average Russian citizen.
His very first Twitter to fans back home was: San Francisco-a very beautiful city. Today we tour in Silicon Valley, looking at Apple, Yandex, and Cisco. Apple and Cisco are known brands already in Russia using their Latin alphabet names so Russian readers are familiar with seeing those names in English. Yandex is a Russian search engine, the largest in the Eastern part of the world, with a development division located in California’s Silicon Valley.
Among his next several messages to Russian followers was the announcement that Gazprom would resume gas shipments to Belarus. Russia had cut off gas supplies earlier due to unpaid bills and frustrations with relations between Moscow and the Belarussian president/dictator, Alexander Lukashenko.
Mr. Medvedev chatted with Twitter employees to learn more about the unique and innovative corporate cultures (such as casual dress policies, bicycling to work, and tailored company benefits) which drive productivity and innovation.
With President Medvedev visiting USA business leaders in California, it was a good time for the Russian Federation commander-in-chief to visit the Navy in San Francisco. Wait, the Russian Navy in San Francisco?
As part of a widespread practice worldwide for warships to accompany heads of state during foreign visits, the Russian missile cruiser Varyag is currently in San Francisco as part of the Russian President’s visit to the USA.
Rear Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov reported to the Commander in Chief about challenges the Russian sailors faced during the long voyage and the events in which they participated in San Francisco.
The President toured the missile cruiser and socialised with its crew. The Varyag visit was the first Russian surface warship to dock in San Francisco in 147 years, arriving from Vladivostok where it is the flagship of Russia’s Pacific fleet.
Admiral Kastonov reminded those present of the events in 1863 when Tsar Alexander II sent ships to San Francisco and New York during the American Civil War as a show of support for the Union at a time when the British and French were thought about to support the southern Confederacy.
The Varyag is a Slava class missile cruiser, designed as a surface strike ship with anti-air and ASW capability. She was launched from Soviet shipyards in Nikolayev (Ukraine) on 4 December 1988 under the name “Riga,” but renamed as Varyag in late 1990. For a time she was a Ukrainian Naval vessel before being transferred to the Russian Federation.
(Moscow) Did Mikhail Gorbachev’s granddaughter receive special priviliges for her recent marriage?
Mr. Gorbachev’s youngest granddaughter Anastasia Virganskaya, 23, is a recent graduate of the Moscow State University of Foreign Affairs and her recent marriage has made a few socialites wonder if the Gorbachev family received special treatment in regards to the wedding ceremony?
Anastasia married Dmitry Zangiev, 24, a young PR professional with the Louis Vuitton and Max Mara Fashion Group in Russia and graduate of the University for Eastern Studies and post-graduate student of the Russian Civil Service Academy.
The wedding took place at an exclusive banquet hall and while such is typical, ordinary couples celebrate after the required civil ceremony at a state marriage registry office.
Typical Russian weddings (a civil wedding is required in Russia) take place at local registry offices called “Wedding Palaces.” The Russian newspaper PRAVDA (Pravda means “truth” in Russian) reported on the March wedding saying that the couple registered their marriage in the restaurant instead of a registry office.
At least one aspect of the wedding celebration was normal according to the Pravda report–the couple celebrated until daylight hours the next morning.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will meet with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger during the Russian president’s trip to the United States which begins today. The President will meet with California business leaders before traveling to Washington to meet with USA President Obama.
Meetings in Washington are always important, however while Russian leaders aren’t saying so publically, they obviously view Obama as someone to avoid as much as possible.
Schwarzenegger’s office says the governor will meet with the Russian leader in the city of San Francisco. Scheduled to speak at Stanford University on Wednesday afternoon, President Medvedev will also tour Silicon Valley, where he is expected to speak with California high technology entrepreneurs about his plan for a Russian version of Silicon Valley just outside Moscow.
Medvedev’s top economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich will make the trip as will senior officials from Russia’s top energy giants, LUKoil and Gazprom. The Russian group will meet also with members of the management team at Google while in California.