Former Prime Minister Edward Heath condemned President Bush for enmeshing himself in a "horrifying" personal battle with Saddam Hussein, and called on Bush to have a "cool head and patience" in resolving the gulf crisis.

Heath, who met Iraqi President Saddam during a humanitarian visit to Baghdad last week that yielded the release of more than 30 elderly and ailing British hostages, said he objected statements by Bush that he had "had enough" of Saddam."These issues are far too great to be decided on a personal like or dislike by the head of the greatest and most powerful country in the world," said Heath, who served as prime minister from 1970-74. "It's horrifying that this position should be reached. What it requires is a cool head and patience."

Heath, a senior member of the ruling Conservative Party, called on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to distance herself from Bush's statement.

"There must be a distinction between appeasement and solving a problem," he said. "What we have to do in the Middle East is solve a problem. It requires a major diplomatic effort, and that effort has not been made. Governments have abdicated diplomacy."

Bush says a look at history will back his suggestion that Saddam is a barbarian surpassing Adolf Hitler, but experts on the Nazi era disagree.

"We don't see the kind of atrocities being committed in Kuwait and Iraq that would match those of Nazi Germany," said Richard Breitman, a history professor history at American University and Hitler specialist.

"No one yet, and I hope no one ever will, match up to the systematized brutalities and racist policies that Adolf Hitler committed," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate director of the Simon Weisenthal Center in Los Angeles.