WE PUBLISH today on the opposite page an appeal by former intelligence director William E. Colby. Mr. Colby believes the country should take a part in healing the wounds that the Vietnam war left not only in the United State - but it Vietnam as well. Let us not duplicate in peace the error we made throughout the war, he argues. That error involved being able to see only the American dimension of the war. Can this country, he asks, be as practical and magnanimous in relation to a victories enemy as it was after World War II to enemies it had defeated? The former CIA director argues that we should be: By mutual concern for each other's current interests, he suggests, a relationship of advantage both can be built.

Mr. Colby is, we think, particularly well situated to comment. For he was a leading participant in the conduct and making of American policy in Vietnam during the war period - including some of this country's bloodiest and most controversial acts. He offers now, we believe, a valuable personal model of the broad, humane and forward-looking view, one free of demands for either vengence of penance, which Americans ought to be taking toward current questions through the concern for human-rights violations in Vietnam recently voiced by a group of former anti-war activitists. This is also the view reflected in Jimmy Carter's pledge to "get the Vietnamese war, including draft evaders and deserters.

Like Mr. Carter, Mr. Colby wants to proceed with the healing - and without rendering moral judgements on particular acts of the war or on the war overall. Mr. Colby's constribution is to take this standard the last mile. He would apply it to the Vietnamese victims of the war: Those who were victims of American bombs and guns and those who stood with the United States during the fighting and who are under special duress in their homeland now.

The course Mr. Colby commends promises a bonus on a matter of special American concern, and accounting of the MIAs. his arguments reinforce the conviction of those who, like ourselves, have long felt that the best way to gain satisfaction on this count is to pursue direct and across-the-board negotiations with the governments of Indochina, especially Vietnam, in order to satisfy their legitimate interests as well as the United States' own. In brief, he makes a powerful and dignified case for where the country should now go. The case is only enhanced, we belive, by one's awareness of where Mr. Colby has been.