Rrrring! "White House." "May I speak to President Reagan, please?"

"Who is calling? We don't let just anybody speak to the president, madam."

"Just tell him that I am authorized to ask the United States to participate in the military invasion of a thuggish country."

"Oh, in that case, I'll put you right through."

"Hello, this is Ronald Reagan."

"Mr. President, I have been asked by no less than 50 nations to speak to you on behalf of joining them in invading an antidemocratic country."

"Yes, go on," came the answer, his voice edged with barely concealed glee.

"Well, this is a country that bombs other countries."

"Bombs other countries?"

"Yes, and it denies 90 percent of its citizens the vote."

"Hot diggety, how undemocratic can you get?"

"And since our new policy is that we will give military aid to forces that want to topple undemocratic regimes . . . "

"How big is its fighting force?" he interrupted.

"Well, it is not so weak and vulnerable as tiny little Grenada. This country is pretty big, pretty powerful. Gets lots of help from superpowers. It probably has the bomb. It's rich and all . . . "

"Well, who are you? Who are the 50 countries and what is the target?"

"Just say that I believe in the same justice and democracy that you believe in. These 50 nations have thousands of soldiers, not the piddling few from the seven Caribbean nations that participated in your invasion of Grenada. And since you believe in ratio and proportion, that way you could have tens of thousands of invading soldiers."

"Is this some kind of joke?"

"I assure you, sir, it is no joke. The countries are the 50 nations of the Organization of African Unity with their 500 million citizens, and the target is South Africa."

"But . . . but we are 'constructively engaging' the South Africans to get them to change their official racist government policy. And besides, the South Africans are anti-Communist."

"But if you had 'constructively engaged' the Grenadans when they were begging you to, they might not have needed the Cubans so badly. When the late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was in Washington in June trying to tell you that you were wrong to say Grenada was building its airport for Cuban and Soviet military use, you wouldn't see him. All Grenada got for trying to 'constructively engage' was the United States' persuasion of international financial institutions to punish Grenada by withholding aid. You cynically pushed them further into Cuba's arms."

"Look, I chose invasion as the lesser of two evils--if that bunch that killed Bishop had taken over they would have gone Marxist all the way and allowed a Cuban buildup."

"You also went in because it was a cheap political victory against a weak and vulnerable foe. I'd like to ask you the same question Del. Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.) asked. 'Do you also have plans to 'restore democracy' in Guatemala, Chile, Haiti or Paraguay or a host of other countries with which we have normal diplomatic relations and which yet have no democratic institutions?' "

"Listen, madam, I thought the purpose of this call was to suggest something specific, not rattle on with nonsense."

"Mr. President, I'm just trying to make an honest man out of you. Since I know you would not pick on a tiny island in isolation, I want to offer you an opportunity to give military aid to other nations that want to topple undemocratic regimes just like you do. Why, that fellow Randall Robinson, head of the lobby group TransAfrica, is saying the invasion of Grenada shows 'the U.S. runs this hemisphere just as brutally as the Soviet Union runs its sphere of influence. There is no difference in the application of the tools of power.' "

"Listen, state your business. I must go."

"Just this. I don't really want you to invade South Africa, but you had no legal right to invade Grenada either. Invasion is not the way to conduct foreign policy, and all the reasons you cite for not invading South Africa could apply equally well to Grenada. To move only on the weak and vulnerable target leaves you, and the United States, in the position of a cynical, callous world bully, and . . .

"Mr. President? Mr. President, are you there?"