Somebody joked that the Jordanians must have used the Green Book, the Blue Book and the telephone book to come up with the crowd they got last night. They invited 2,000 for the 30th anniversary celebration of their independence as well as their Armed Forces Day, and from the looks of the Washington Hilton's International Ballroom most of them came.
Part of the attraction was King Hussein's youngest brother, Crown Prince Hassan bin Talal, heir to the throne. Surrounded by a flying wedge of bodyguards, the 35-year-old Oxford graduate swept into the cavernous ballroom to position himself in the receiving line. He came from a meeting with Vice President George Bush and before that with Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr.
"Very productive," Hassan said of his two-hour talk with Haig.
He royally dismissed a question about whether he thought Jordan would get advanced U.S. fighter planes as well as mobile batteries of surface-to-air missiles.
"I think that's not a question one makes pedestrian comment on, if you don't mind," he scolded a reporter, adding that "I commented to the State Department."
Jordan's Ambassador Abdul Hadi Majali, however, said Jordan hasn't yet requested arms because the issue is still being discussed. He said it has nothing to do with the U.S. elections in November.
And what about seeking the arms from the Russians if the Americans fail to oblige?
"We didn't go to Russia in the past. We went to Europe. We went to Russia because it was a gift which was given to us. It was a deal--instead of giving us money, a subsidy, they the Russians told us we will give you equipment. This is how the deal was concluded. A one-time deal and no, now there is nothing," said Majali.
Across the room, the Russian Embassy's minister-counselor Alexander A. Bessmertnykh--"Sasha" to friends such as Washington attorney Sylvan Marshall--acknowledged that Jordan is a good friend of the Soviet Union.
"We have some talks about arms but it depends upon them," said Bessmertnykh. "I refer to their statements that if they don't get it from the Americans, then they'll get it from others."
U.S. Ambassador to Jordan Richard Veits said Jordan is still "analyzing and assessing capabilities of various types of aircraft. When they finally make their determination, they will then decide when and how and how much and so forth. But they aren't to that point yet."
Veits said there is "no question" that there is substantial opposition building to the United States supplying Jordan any arms at all.
"In the absence of any request, I find it somewhat intresting to see the amount of activity that's being orchestrated against it," Veits said. "I see that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy will be tabling a resolution on Thursday. The last time I checked, he had about 42 signatures on it."
On Prince Hassan's speech earlier in the day to the Middle East Institute, Veits said he thought the most notable element was "the very forthright acceptance of the state of Israel--he does ask the follow-on questions about which Israel we are recognizing, the one of '48, '67 or '73. But he made it very, very clear that Jordan is prepared, if the peace process is to go forward to a successful conclusion, of certainly recognizing that."
Forty-five minutes before the two-hour reception had ended, the two large buffet tables offering roast kid, crab cakes, smoked salmon, miniature quiches and a wide-ranging assortment of other finger foods looked as if a swarm of locusts had hit them.
Sprinkled among the turnout of official and social Washingtonians were some highly mobile Jordanian groupies who jockeyed for Hassan's attention.
"He said he couldn't come see us this time but he'd try on his next trip over," said the Rev. John Badeen, who with 19 other members of the Jordan Club of Detroit flew to Washington especially for the reception.
Detroit City Council President Emma Henderson said Detroit has the largest Arab community--250,000--of any city in the country.
"So it's very important for me to be here," said Henderson. "They're my constituents."