Rep. Lee H. Hamilton's article on the U.S. role in the Persian Gulf {"Kuwaiti Tankers, U.S. Flag," op-ed, May 27} stresses some points that are too simplistic and naive to serve as premises for any coherent U.S. policy in the area.

First, basing a policy on "allied" action in the Gulf presupposes that the United States, Japan and the West European states all have remarkably similar interests in the region, as well as identical interpretations of events, which is simply not true. It also requires that American allies be able to project significant measures of military power thousands of miles from their shores, which, not being superpowers, they would be very hard-pressed to do.

Second, the comparison to our action in Lebanon in 1983 is neither logical nor useful. We are not providing humanitarian assistance or interjecting a stabilizing element into a small country torn by civil war; rather, we are in the Gulf to protect the neutral shipping that carries a great deal of oil, upon which much of the Western industrial world depends. Significant disruptions would inevitably hurt world markets, currencies, trade and production.

Third, the issue of "rules of engagement" is a purely military one, not a matter of basic policy or public debate. If our Navy has the assignment of protecting Kuwaiti tankers, it should carry out its orders and do so professionally and successfully.

While the possibility of attack from either side in the Iran-Iraq war represents geostrategic contingencies that our policy makers should be aware of, our planning cannot possibly predict the actions of these combatant states. Therefore a bureaucratically neat, detailed plan of provocation/response, to include local tactical measures, would be ludicrous. If Iran or Iraq were to redirect major forces away from the land battle fronts -- an insane military move -- and focus them on U.S. forces in the Gulf, this would bring about an entirely different set of circumstances and considerations, which would have to be resolved at that time. Policy makers cannot provide any guarantees in advance, contrary to what many American legislators appear to believe.

Finally, the plea simply to end the war, though representing an honorable sentiment, amounts to outright absurdity or extreme arrogance when taken as part of a real-world policy. That particular war is not ours to end. The war will be over when the opposing sides say it is over, and no amount of American posturing, bribery or rhetoric will alter that fact.

DRAGE VUKCEVICH

Columbia