The Persian Gulf war is long over, but its repercussions are still important foreign policy issues. Was the Bush administration blind to Saddam Hussein's designs before he invaded Kuwait? Did Gov. Bill Clinton waffle on support for the war? How should the United States deal with Iraq's continued intransigence? Whatever their substantive differences, both candidates are trying to turn the powerful symbol of the grim, mustachioed Saddam to their advantage. BUSH

Points to his role in pulling together the anti-Iraq coalition and leading the liberation of Kuwait as prime evidence why he is the candidate to trust as commander in chief. Contrasts that with what he calls waffling on the part of his opponent: After Congress approved the use of force in Iraq, Clinton said he would have voted with the majority, but that he agreed with the arguments the minority made. "While I bit the bullet, he bit his nails," Bush said of Governor Clinton in his acceptance speech in Ho uston.

Says economic sanctions against Iraq should stay in place until Saddam Hussein is ousted. Has stepped up pressure on his Iraqi nemesis in recent months by declaring a "no fly" zone to protect Shiite rebels, and threatening renewed bombing if United Nations inspectors are blocked from doing their job. CLINTON

Stresses that he and running mate Al Gore Jr. supported the war, but points out that Bush stopped the fighting with some business still unfinished. Notes that Saddam remains in power, an embarrassment to an administration that has prided itself on foreign policy prowess. Last month Mr. Gore said that if Bush and Quayle are "such whizzes..., why is it that Saddam Hussein is thumbing his nose at the entire world?"

Continues to support the "no fly" zone and other Bush saber-rattling, saying that on such important matters policy should be bipartisan. But charges that the administration partly set up the Gulf crisis in the first place by "coddling" Iraq with loans and other enticements long after Saddam's true colors were apparent. Charged that after the war Bush was more concerned about promoting stability in the region than promoting democracy in Kuwait, or protecting Kurdish rebels.

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