In addressing the United Nations and lobbying other world leaders individually backstage, President Bush is turning up the diplomatic heat on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Calling Saddam's aggression "a dark relic from a dark time," Bush's heartfelt appeal is an attempt to convince the world to stand firm in demanding Iraq's withdrawal from Kuwait.It is clear that he thinks this is no time to throw in the towel. Even though the frightening risks of war are on everyone's minds, the United Nations has indicated a rare resolve, and the decision of so many world leaders to unite to stop aggression represents a proud symbol for peace.

Never has the United Nations been so effective in dealing with dictatorial leaders as they have in this crisis.

It was known from the beginning that the use of sanctions against Iraq would take time to bear fruit, and there are already indications that Saddam is reconsidering his bold moves toward his neighbor and increasingly recognizes that his back is against the wall.

Saddam released nine French hostages this week and hinted at "dialogue" and "debate" with France on the region's future. The French earlier offered a four-step plan for negotiating the Mideast crisis but said the first step must be Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. And 350 French hostages are still being held.

As Bush has said, now is not the time to weaken our resolve. If anything, Saddam's offers of talk must be met with determination that Iraq pull out of Kuwait first.

If the United States and the United Nations back down now, it will teach Saddam and other would-be dictators that small nations can become "souvenirs of conquest."

Ironically, the one good thing that has come from Saddam's naked act of aggression is that an impressive new partnership of nations has been forged. No one would have predicted only a year ago that formerly communist nations would join hand-in-hand with the United States to pursue a common goal of peace in the world.

Indeed, a new world order - as expressed by Bush - may emerge, but only if the community of nations can exercise patience and resolve until a unified goal is achieved.