The administration has decided to ask for financial support from those nations benefiting from our military intervention in the Persian Gulf. This is reasonable. However, like many Americans, I am somewhat uncomfortable at the image of the United States going about the world, hat in hand, asking for money. I would like to suggest another approach.

The military and economic steps taken against Iraq have occurred under the aegis of the United Nations. Funding of these operations could also be accomplished under the U.N. flag with many advantages.

A United Nations Middle East Emergency Equalization Fund would have the purpose of compensating not only those countries actively supporting military operations but also, to the degree possible, developing countries whose economies are suffering from the dramatic increase in oil prices. The formula for making "payouts" would be complex and probably politically difficult but surely possible to determine.

Where would the money come from? First, from the oil-producing nations that are benefiting from the crisis. World oil production is about 60 million barrels per day -- a $5-a-barrel increase (and the increase is already greater than this) means 300 million per day in "unearned" income. This is more than $100 billion a year. Second, the money would come from countries whose interests are being protected by the U.N. action, but which are not contributing in any significant fashion. Japan comes immediately to mind. Third, the money would come from Iraq's frozen assets.

This proposal should appeal to those who have been anxious to keep the United Nations in the forefront of the crisis. It also might encourage the developing world to support U.N. actions and ameliorate the damage done to its societies by the increased price of oil.

JOHN B. KEELEY Alexandria