Let's make a deal


THE TWO questions that the American people have at this time are: "Does the United States have a foreign policy?" And if so, "What is it?"

The answer is, "Of course, we have a policy. How else could we have humiliated such major powers as Panama, Somalia, Iraq and Haiti?"

Ever since the Soviet Union went down the tubes, the United States has turned its attention to other totalitarian regimes around the world to dramatize the fact that we will not be pushed around -- no matter what the cost.

Our policy requires top planning, careful examination of all our options and a former U.S. president to persuade Third World despots that this country means business.

This is how it goes. Every so often the United States decides to show everyone that it supports democratic forms of government even if they aren't exactly what we had in mind.

Once every armored division, aircraft carrier and fighter is in place, the president goes on TV and tells the dictators that they are finished and we will no longer allow them to make fools of us.

The president dispatches an ex-president to make sure that the message is loud and clear.

"General, I speak on behalf of the president of the United States. We want you to relinquish power immediately and get out of the country so that your legally elected president can take over the palace."

"I can't leave now. My wife is having a cocktail party for the first families of our nation."

"Why didn't you say that in the first place? How about you and the other two generals leaving next week?"

"That's impossible. We're all scheduled to go on the 'Today Show' next Thursday."

"Well, how about some time this month?"

"It would be very inconvenient because we had plans to beat up all the opposition politicians with baseball bats this month. Hunting them down is not going to be easy."

"General, you have a lovely wife and she is very beautiful. I personally lust in my heart for beautiful women.

"But this doesn't mean that we can permit you to continue doing all the bad deeds you have been noted for in the past."

"I must insist that you resign before Thanksgiving or Christmas or -- at the very latest -- New Year's."

"Does this mean that I have to give up my country chalet, my yacht and my private plane?"

"We didn't say that. You can remain in the country and drive your Maserati around any place that you want to."

"I think that President Clinton owes all the military an apology. He has accused us of terrible human rights' violations. We have feelings, too."

"I'll talk to him as soon as I get a chance. I find you a very reasonable person, surrounded by some of the most attractive women I've seen in all my years of peace negotiating.

"I will return to the United States and report that you are a man of honor and will keep your word and resign by the first of the year."

"Thank you. If you'll excuse me, I have some mopping up to do."

"Are you going to continue to mop up civilians?"

"I have no choice since you promised me amnesty."

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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