Zdzislaw M. Rurarz is a former Polish ambassador who defected to the West and is one of the most knowledgeable men in the United States about the Soviet Union. In a column on the resignation of Eduard Shevardnardze, Rurarz takes a radically different point of view.

Here is how he expressed it in the Washington Inquirer:"But what are the Soviets up to? All these changes in the USSR, although doubtlessly connected to the known woes plaguing the country, have some other underlying purpose. But what specifically? In fact, they all rather suggest a preparation for war rather than attempts at overcoming the above-mentioned problems. The Soviets, who have succeeded in trapping the United States in the gulf, may have now become convinced that the latter will be trying to extricate itself from the morass by attacking Iraq. The Kremlin knows only too well that victory over Iraq would leave the U.S. in virtual control of the world's largest oil deposits practically forever. And this the Kremlin will not approve. And it will try to get actively involved once the hostilities start."

Now think about this. It seems very reasonable to me that the Kremlin would not want the United States sitting on the Persian Gulf oil reserves, yet it voted for the U.N. resolutions. What's the deal? Well, we now know that the Soviet Union knew in advance of the North Korean invasion, yet it was absent from the Security Council, thus allowing the vote that involved America in the Korean War.

It's entirely possible that the Soviet Union would want to get us bogged down in a Middle East morass - thus, the U.N. votes - but have in mind no happy outcome as far as we are concerned.

I think it strange that since Shevardnadze's resignation, the Soviet Union was ominously silent on the Persian Gulf for about a period of two weeks. There was not even any immediate Soviet reaction to the failed talks in Geneva. And Secretary of State James Baker, in his round of visiting coalition partners, did not visit the Soviet Union.

Yet the only important member of the so-called coalition is the Soviet Union. What France or Great Britain or Germany do doesn't really matter a hoot. Only the Soviet Union has the capability to turn the tables on us. President Bush's entire Persian Gulf policy is based on one thing and one thing only - the consent of the Soviet Union.

If you back off and put the postwar era into perspective and look at events from the point of view of a titanic struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, then you can see both the Vietnam War and the Korean War as pluses on the Soviet side.

In both cases, the United States wasted lives and treasure and political capital, being forced in one case to accept a stalemate and in the other defeat at great cost while the Soviet Union lost not one life or suffered one economic loss other than its investment in arms for the Vietnamese and North Koreans.

Neither I nor Rurarz know for certain what the Soviet Union is up to, but I do know we have allowed ourselves to become obsessed, risking both lives, treasure and for sure any alliance with the Moslem world for a goal not worth the price.

I agree with the Polish diplomat: The Soviet Union is not going to stand aside and allow the United States to permanently take control of Persian Gulf oil reserves.

This is going to be a bad business and it is not going to end well.