A New World Question

WESTERN optimism about a velvet new world order has been shattered by tanks in Vukovar, snipers in Sarajevo, combat in Nagorno-Karabakh and Moldova. The post-Soviet world is proving more complex, and in many ways more dangerous, than the cold-war world. The end of Soviet authority has opened a vacuum rapidly filling with local blood feuds and vendettas, political chaos, small hot wars, mafia crime, and regional disputes over history, territory, power, and rights.

With exceptions like the current nightmare in Bosnia (will French President Mitterand's trip there accomplish anything?) these are conflicts within borders - though they could become larger wars. The crisis in the Balkans could bring in Greece, Turkey, Albania, and Bulgaria. The crises in Moldova and Ossetia - or independence movements in Crimea or Siberian oblasts - could provoke Russia, the Ukraine, Georgia, or Romania into a fight.

If the West truly wants a "new world order," or even modest progress toward a civil world, a question must be more asked in Western capitals: What can outsiders do about internal strife and disputes? Or will the rising hatred and slaughters magically stop when the carnage in Sarajevo or Port-au-Prince is finally over?

The rise of barbarian sentiments must be stopped. The West no longer has the luxury of regarding international cooperation, human rights charters, and regional security alliances as passive moral ideas unrelated to real problems. Given current grim tides, old ideas of nonintervention and sovereignty may have to change to help protect minority rights and the peace. New structures for peace and security - that ensure rights and have teeth - must be developed in this transitional time in world history.

Notable are new proposals by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and the forthcoming July meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki. In a report to the Security Council, Mr. Boutros-Ghali became the highest official ever to suggest that regional alliances such as CSCE, NATO, or the European Community intervene in conflicts beyond members' borders.

More important is Boutros-Ghali's proposal for two new UN forces, along with the familiar blue-helmeted peacekeepers. The first are heavily armed "peace-enforcement units," used if a cease-fire collapses. The second invokes Articles 42 and 43 of the UN Charter, asking members to create 1,000-soldier units, backed by air and naval forces, to handle larger aggressions.

Article 43 units are volunteers sent at the discretion of member nations. Training and command details need attention. Paris and Moscow are ready. Others will join. So ought the US - on a volunteer basis. Chapter 7 of the UN allows intervention in cases of possible genocide. Kurds were thus protected after the Gulf war. Chapter 7 may come up again.

In July, CSCE will be authorized to use force. A year ago this seemed far-fetched. Yugoslavia has changed minds. Last month, NATO - yes, NATO - invited CSCE to give it authority to use force. CSCE's ideal is nurturing civil rights (Hungarian minority rights in Slovakia, for example). But it also needs teeth.

The US can do more. The world should police itself, but America can certainly help.

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