In mid-1961 Iraq attempted to invade Kuwait. The might of the Iraqi military was stopped in its tracks by the British Army's 23rd Brigade, which was based at Gilgil, Kenya, and flown to Kuwait for the occasion. Iraqi belligerence was brought to an abrupt halt by roughly 1,500 British fighting infantrymen. My old regiment, 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards, together with the 1st Battalion Inniskilling Fusiliers and approximately 500 royal engineers supported by a Royal Air Force air-lift detachment based in Nairobi, were responsible for this little-known peace-keeping mission.

We trained for this eventuality in Kenya's arid but beautiful northern frontier province. On occasion we were flown to the Gulf region and spent many sweltering days and chilly nights in the desert just north of Aden mostly thinking about the pleasures of drinking some of Kenya's excellent Tusker beer, ice cold, back in camp near Steamer Point.

Being the only superpower remaining, the United States must use its power to force Iraq to pull back. If it does not, Iraq's leader will undoubtedly invade other oil-rich countries in the region.

The United States must not repeat British Prime Minister Harold Wilson's actions in the mid-'60s and pull its military assets out to leave a power vacuum, allowing tyrants such as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to find more easy prey to pluck.

It could be argued that Mr. Wilson's abandonment of world responsibilities precipitated the so-called energy crisis of the early 1970s and the transfer of trillions of dollars of Western and Japanese wealth to the Arabs, who, after all, produce no value-added products of note.

EDWARD OVERELL Washington

In a recent U.N. Security Council debate, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Pickering referred to a "serious mistake" by the Iraqis: "Instead of staging a coup d'e'tat and installing the so-called free provisional government before the invasion, they got it the wrong way around" {Aug. 3}.

While defining the etiquette of invasion in the post-Cold-War era, Ambassador Pickering has reiterated what Miss Manners has been telling us for years: that it is improper to "gate-crash." But apparently different rules exist for American Navy Seals in Panama and the Iraqi army in Kuwait.

Give us a blessed break -- if not by being unequivocal in standards, at least by trying not to shoehorn civility into wretched escapades of power politics.

EMIRHAN KESKIN Washington