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EVERY PEACE PLAN HAS A HEFTY PRICE TAG

Peace costs money. Whether it's in the Middle East, the Balkans or Northern Ireland, every peace plan comes with a hefty price tag. But the money isn't always easy to find.

Palestinians have seen very little of the more than $2 billion the world promised to provide over five years. Billions were promised to the states that emerged from the rubble of the Soviet Union. There's no clear accounting of how much got there and what happened to the money that did.Now there's promise of a cease-fire in Northern Ireland and talk of finding money to make it stick.

Down the road is the likelihood of action to oust the military leaders of Haiti. The restoration of democracy to the island nation is certain to require action to create a viable economy.

Foreign aid has taken a far different tack in the 1990s.

There once was a time when the best road to financial stability for a nation seemed to be to declare war on the United States. The best examples were Germany and Japan, which received billions in U.S. help to rebuild their economies after World War II.

Then came the Cold War when a pledge of anti-communism would unleash a flow of dollars, sometimes to regimes with no more fondness for democracy than the Kremlin.

In today's world, if old enemies are willing to shake hands and lay down their guns, the United States and its allies are ready to pledge their help for economic development.

The Clinton administration greeted the news of a cease-fire in Northern Ireland this week with a promise to look at ways to "facilitate and encourage the peace process . . . including facilitating economic development."

No specific pledges were made, but the impression was, particularly in Ireland, that dollars would be available.

The same was true a year ago when Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed a peace agreement. Within days nations pledged to provide more than $2 billion over five years to help the Palestinians,

Nine months later, the Palestinians had seen only a trickle of that money.