Italy saves the general

Terrorism is not impregnable. That is the message of the dramatic rescue of American Brig. Gen. James Dozier by Italian police last week. The raid was a tremendous victory for the Italian carabinieri and anti-terrorist commandos. It was also a major blow to the Red Brigade terrorists who had been holding the general since his kidnapping Dec. 17. During the 42-day period of incarceration, Italian authorities captured some 20 carloads of documents and arrested a number of suspected terrorists. They will now be able to put together the first detailed picture of the makeup and operation of the Red Brigades organization over its 11-year history.

The battle against terrorism, of course, must go on. The brutal assassination of a Turkish diplomat in Los Angeles the same day as the rescue of General Dozier was another incident in an unrelenting chain of terrorist acts in many parts of the world. As long as misguided individuals and groups resort to such mindless methods of political or social protest, every human and spiritual resource must continue to be brought to bear on the problem.

Every success in combatting terrorism, however, lessens the fear of it and gives encouragement to the forces of order. The world can only cheer the magnificent work of the Italian police. In the grateful words of General Dozier , it was ''a stupendous operation.''

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