Is there no limit to the benevolence and generosity of that great statesman and humanitarian, President Saddam Hussein of Iraq?

First, he accepts thousands of foreigners as guests following Iraq's conquest of Kuwait. Never mind that all of them would rather go home - particularly those trundled off to cozy hideaways near facilities that might become targets in case anyone starts treating Iraq the way Iraq treated Kuwait. Hospitality, after all, comes first.Now he has topped himself, inviting friends and relatives to come visit all those happy, healthy foreign guests. Never mind that any new visitors to Iraq might wonder if the doors there would swing only inward for them, too. Never mind that the invitation to pay a Christmas or New Year's visit is a tacit admission that the present guests won't be leaving until at least next year, if then.

It clearly would be churlish to suggest that Saddam is anything but fanatically devoted to the principles of brotherly love and kindness associated with the approaching holidays. But then some people lack Saddam's good manners and generosity. Like the Frenchmen who, having recently been allowed to leave Baghdad, reported that Americans and Britons in Iraq and Kuwait are suffering serious hardships.

What a sad misunderstanding. But it should be easy to iron out. Just let the International Red Cross go to Iraq. It stands ready to determine whether or not the foreigners there are being adequately fed, sheltered and medicated.

For some curious reason, though, the Red Cross seems to have been omitted from Saddam's list of those invited to spend a few carefree days in sunny Iraq. Oh well. Even the most amiable and open-handed host has to draw the line somewhere.