PRESIDENT CARTER intends to embark on an 11-day trip to eight countries on four continents in late November. Some people are accusing the President of trying to get into the "Guinness Book of Records," but Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mr. Carter's National Security Adviser, insists the trip makes sense and will enhance. American foreign policy with countries that are playing increasingly important roles in world affairs.
There is another theory as to why the President is going to all these places, and while I couldn't pin it down, it makes more sense than the one advanced by Mr. Brzezinski.
It seems the President only wanted to go to Brussels, but since he is so cost-conscious he had to include the other countries in his itinerary.
Rumor has it that U.N. Ambassador Andy Young came into the President's office and said, "I have good news for you, Mr. President. Under the new 'no frills airline rates' you can fly to Brussels for $145."
"That sounds great, Andy," the President said.
"All you have to do is show up the airport six hours in advance and be listed on standby."
"That seems reasonable," the President said.
"If the plane isn't full you get a seat and fly to Caracas, Venezuela."
That seems to be a weird way of going to Brussels."
"You have to stay 24 hours in Caracas and then fly to Brasilia in Brazil and remain there for 24 hours more."
"And then I go to Brussels?" the President asked.
"No, then you fly to Lagos, Nigeria, for a 72-hour layover," said Young.
"All this for only $145?" the President said.
"It's a fantastic bargain," Young told Mr. Carter. "From Nigeria the plane goes to New Delhi for a 48-hour refueling stop."
"And from there it's on to Brussels?"
"Not exactly. Then you fly to Tehran for lunch."
"Does the airline provide me with lunch?"
"Not under the 'no frills' plan. But the Shah of Iran will give you lunch in Tehran because he wants to encourage 'no frills' airlines to land in his country."
"What date will that be?"
"Will they be showing the same movie on the entire flight?" asked the President.
"They don't say in their ads, but if you want to see a movie you'll have to pay $3.50 extra."
"We better scrub the movie," the President said. "I'd rather have the $3.50 to spend in Brussels."
"You won't be going to Brussels after Tehran. To get the benefit of the $145 fare you have to fly to Paris first."
"It could be worse," the President said. "They could have taken me to Poland."
Young looked embarrassed. "They are taking you to Poland. But only for 24 hours. They have to drop off several people in Warsaw."
"It seems like a flight."
"Frankly I don't know how they can do it for $145, but the regular fare is $395 with taxes so we're saving $250. Now on Dec. 2 you arrive in Brussels, but you can only stay for 24 hours."
"I would think that's enough time. Then I go back to Washington?" the President asked.
"There's no guarantee you can leave the next morning. You have to go back on standby for the return flight. But I was told that at that time of year you won't have any trouble getting on the plane."
"And that's the cheapest way I can go to Brussels?"
"I've checked out all the other charter planes and this is not only the least expensive, but also the fastest way to get there."
"You did a good job, Andy, and every taxpayer in America is proud of you."