Hardly a week goes by when some head of state doesn't visit Washington. In the old days if they saw Disneyland while they were in the United States they went home happy.
But things have changed. Most heads of state now come to Washington to see how much military aid they can get out of the United States.
Several weeks ago the president of Zemululu arrived in Washington for a state visit. The Zemululan ambassador to the United States met him at the plane, as did the American secretary of state and an honor guard from the U.S. Army, U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force.
The Zemululan ambassador whispered to the president, "The first thing you must do is review the honor guard."
The president said, "Those are nice rifles they're carrying. Can I have them?"
"No," said the ambassador, "not yet. First we have to take a helicopter to the White House where President Carter will greet you."
After reviewing the troops the president of Zemululu got into the helicopter. "Should I ask the Secretary of State for 24 of these?"
"It's too early in your visit. We have to go through formalities."
The president looked very disappointed.
The helicopter landed on the White House lawn where President and Mrs. Carter were waiting to meet the party. President Carter made his opening remarks calling Zemululu one of the great countries of the world and a friend the United States could not do without.
The Zemululan ambassador said out of the side of his mouth, "it is now your turn to respond."
"Good, I'll ask him for two squadrons of F-15s and three squadrons of F-16s."
"Wait. It's not the time. You never ask for military equipment in the Rose Garden. It's against protocol."
"What should I say?"
"Just say the ties between Zemululu and the United States are stornger than they have ever been, and the admiration for America as the preserver of peace is something every Zemululan cherishes."
All right, but I think we're wasting a lot of time. I have only two days here."
The Zemululan president made his remarks which were followed by a 21-gun salute.
The Zemululan president took out a notebook, "I almost forgot the cannons. How many 105-mm cannons should I ask for?"
The ambassador replied, "I think they said they'd give us five."
Five? My generals told me to come back with no less than 50."
"We'll talk about it later. We have to go into lunch."
The Zumululan president said, "When can we go to the Pentagon and see the stuff?"
"We have to lunch with President and Mrs. Carter first. After that we have to place a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial."
"That will blow the whole afternoon," the Zemululan president complained.
"The Pentagon is just over the bridge from the memorial, Mr. President. We can go there after the wreath-laying."
"How late do they stay open?"
"Five o'clock? I won't even have time to pick up any gunboats for our navy."
"We'll go back the next morning."
"Suppose all the F-15s are gone by then?"
"The Pentagon always keeps a dozen in the stockroom for its special friends. Oh, by the way, there is a state dinner tonight and Beverly Sills is going to sing."
"That's nice. Maybe I can talk President Carter out of some cruise missiles during Madame Butterfly."