There was much with which I could agree in Michael Kinsley's excellent op-ed article {''International Law: Only When It Suits Us?''} of Sept. 13. Yet when I had completed reading the piece, I felt as if I had danced all around the main issue without ever really touching it.

Of course President Bush is basing the United States response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait on international law and international order. And of course the United States was completely uninterested in this same international law and order at the time of the Grenada invasion and on a number of other equally notorious occasions. The United States, like many other countries, feels free to disregard the Court of International Justice and the other institutions comprising the United Nations when its opinions do not suit our purposes. And as Mr. Kinsley correctly observes, ''Law that need not be obeyed if you disagree with it is not law.''

It was very well recognized by the Founding Fathers of the United States that law can be effective only when there exist three other important institutional ingredients: an executive body, a legislative body and a judicial body -- in short, the three basic functions of democratic government. Moreover, justice under law requires enforcement and adjudication of the law on individuals, not merely on nation states as is the rule currently under the United Nations.

Isn't this an appropriate time to endow the United Nations with the strength it needs to make it an effective instrument for world peace, to deal with international terrorism and for preserving the global environment -- human problems that are beyond the capability of individual nations states to solve?