A world leader in need of luck
Tuesday 01 September 1998
"I have a nightmare..." would have been nearer the mark.
Put yourself, just once, in the President's place as Air Force One left Andrews Air Force base outside Washington yesterday and consider the risks. Suppose you are more than 10 hours into your 12-hour flight to Moscow and have just crossed into Russian airspace. The VIP corridor is cleared for your approach to the capital. You are handed an urgent message. Unconfirmed reports from Moscow say that Boris Yeltsin has just resigned. You do not know whether he has been forcibly removed, genuinely changed his mind since Friday or suffered a heart attack.
Minutes later, there is a new message, this time from the acting Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, passed on by the State Department in Washington: "I am looking forward to receiving you in Moscow. The programme for your visit remains substantially in place."
Another 10 minutes and a new message, this one from the Treasury via the White House: Russia has announced it is defaulting on all its international obligations: the interests of the Russian people are paramount.
You are now well into Russian airspace. You have no certainty about who is in charge at your destination. Your options are limited. You can believe Mr Chernomyrdin's reassurance and proceed with your visit, hoping it is he, or the Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov, who meets you at the airport and not some Communist you have never heard of or, worse still, some uniformed strong-man who claims to be in control. Maybe you could change the venue: invite Mr Chernomyrdin to Helsinki. On second thoughts, he has a country to run.
You emerge from Air Force One for the first time in your presidency uncertain about what awaits.
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Florida man sentenced to two-and-a-half years for having sex on the beach in front of a child
Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
Man who was struck and killed by lightning in Brecon Beacons 'was carrying a selfie stick'
Greece debt crisis as it happened: EU chiefs at loggerheads hours before Alexis Tsipras’s last ditch deal proposals
Florida teacher sentenced to 22 years in prison for sexually abusing three pupils
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts
£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...
£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...
£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...