The international community may have made a mess out of the war in Bosnia, acting without any resolve and often playing into the hands of Bosnian Serb aggressors. But Jimmy Carter isn't likely to clean up the mess.

In fact, the former president could cause a lot of harm in an extremely delicate war zone, and he certainly isn't helping the image of President Clinton or the United States in the eyes of foreign governments.The Clinton administration wrote the peace plan currently on the table. Dubbed the "contact group plan," it was signed by the United States, Russia, France, Britain and Germany and calls for large concessions on the part of Bosnian Serbs. Now, with Carter's peace mission to Bosnia, other nations are beginning to wonder aloud who really is in charge of U.S. foreign policy and whether the plan will be undermined.

If Carter negotiates a plan of his own, it could place serious strain on U.S. relations with its European allies.

Perhaps most distressing is the fact Carter agreed to the mission after receiving what he considered significant concessions from the Bosnian Serb political leader. The concessions amounted to nothing more than a cessation of aggressive and inhumane acts that have been soundly condemned by the international community. The Bosnian Serbs promised to release all prisoners under the age of 19, to allow the Sarajevo airport to open and to stop harassing U.N. troops.

Those are hardly reasons to celebrate.

Carter was praised by many for his recent diplomatic missions to Haiti and North Korea. He seemed able to diffuse tensions that were on the verge of exploding. However, his actions in both cases were not above criticism. Experts have complained he gave up too much in an agreement on nuclear issues with North Korea, and his Haiti excursion led to confusion over whether the nation's outlaw military leaders would be allowed to stay in the country.

The administration was able to fix the Haiti problem, but it may not get a chance if Carter blunders in Bosnia.