The Aug. 31 Post suggests to me a possibly providential solution to the Persian Gulf crisis. On page A1 was the story of the imperialist legacy, which imposed arbitrary boundaries in the area now involved in the current conflict. On page A2, Haynes Johnson's column pointed out that Iraq is in a no-win position and that there is in place an international coalition to buttress the anti-Iraqi confrontation.
Would not the United States be in a most fortunate position to propose an end to the dangerous cliff-hanging situation by calling on the United Nations and our Arab allies to convene a border-settling commission? The U.N. could then call upon Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait and let his claims and those of the Kuwaitis be adjudicated by the U.N. body based on historical and ethnic (tribal) fact-finding. This proposal has the highly desirable objective of removing the United States and its Western friends from the appearance of dictating to the Arab world. The dispute could then be resolved on a nonpartisan basis or even on a dominantly Arab basis. FRED G. FOLSOM Alexandria
Saddam Hussein's decision to administratively separate two small islands from the rest of Kuwait, assigning them to Basra Province while making the rest of Kuwait a separate province of Iraq, opens the way to a peaceful settlement of the Gulf crisis.
By announcing this separation, Saddam Hussein has drawn a line not in the sand but in the water. It is these islands, unpopulated, non-oil-producing but with a geographic value to almost-landlocked Iraq dwarfing their value to anyone else, that he demanded Kuwaiti cede or lease to Iraq prior to his invasion. He has made clear to all who are willing to see that, while he intends to keep these islands, everything else is negotiable.
An "Arab solution" can now be envisioned. Arab League forces could replace Iraqi forces in Kuwait, with all foreigners permitted to leave. Kuwaiti citizens could vote to choose between independence and integration with Iraq and perhaps, either simultaneously or subsequently, between restoration of the emirate and its replacement by a republican government. The legitimate government of Kuwait would cede the two islands to Iraq, which, U.N. resolutions notwithstanding, it is fully entitled to do, and, in return, would recover its sovereignty, its oil and a country worth living in. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states would ask the foreign countries deploying troops on their territory to scale down or phase out their military presence.
Such a solution would leave Saddam Hussein far from humiliated and with his military potential intact, but, since it could be implemented by Arab decisions alone and would offer no excuse for the massive preemptive attack on Iraq demanded by Israel and some voices in the West, the world would have to live with it. The only country seriously threatened by such a solution would be Israel, but that threat could be deflected by negotiating a definitive peace with the Palestinians. If an Israeli-Palestinian peace were achieved on terms acceptable to the Palestinians or even were the subject of serious negotiations, any attack on Israel would earn ignominy, not honor or glory, in Arab eyes.
Now that the world has stared into the abyss, Middle East peace may be about to break out. JOHN V. WHITBECK Paris