If President Bush has his way, Saddam Hussein will die in the war or end his days in a jail cell.

But chances are only about 50-50 that Bush will prevail on this issue.While Bush is clearly confident of eventually disabling the Iraqi military machine - certainly it would no longer be the world's fourth largest army - killing Saddam will be difficult and may be impossible.

The CIA, top Israeli agents and mercenaries could not accomplish such a mission before the war when Saddam was out and about.

With reports that Saddam has a series of highly sophisticated, even luxurious underground bunkers to hide and protect him, allied forces have no idea where Saddam is at any given time, according to Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Nonetheless, getting rid of Saddam is clearly a U.S. goal. U.S. bombers have consistently gone after known military command centers in Baghdad, one of the few targets the Pentagon has been openly discussed.

Powell's first big assignment for Bush was to capture Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. Powell did it, but with difficulty, the loss of several hundred lives and the now famous rock music blasted at the Vatican embassy in Panama City where Noriega sought refuge. Powell self-deprecatingly notes that finding an enemy leader is not easy.

If Saddam is not killed during the course of the most intensive aerial bombardment since World War II, Bush still intends to hold him responsible legally for the "rape" of Kuwait, the "brutal" parading of allied POWs and Scud attacks on civilians in Israel and Saudi Arabia.

For years Bush attempted to work with Saddam as an ally against Iran. In Bush's eyes, once Saddam shed the cloak of respectability by invading Kuwait and shunning diplomacy, he became a common criminal.

However, bringing him to justice in the Arab world, where millions of people think he is a hero, won't be easy. Even worse for future U.S. policy in the Middle East would be trying Saddam in Europe or the United States.

After little more than a week of war, demonstrations abound in such countries as Jordan and Egypt to show support of Saddam. Arabs who have lived in and been educated in the United States appear on panel discussions to say they're convinced the United States is seeking to dominate the Middle East.

Jordanian newspapers openly accuse Bush of trying to "annihilate" Iraq as a nation. France, part of Bush's coalition, for the first week of war refused to bomb Iraq, saying it would help liberate Kuwait but not destroy Iraq. Turkey tries not to let its people know it permits allied flights against Iraq from the air base at Incirlik within its borders.

Getting international solidarity for trying Saddam for war crimes would be a far more difficult challenge for the Bush team than building and holding the coalition to get Iraq out of Kuwait.

It hasn't helped that Bush is now seen to have a personal vendetta against Saddam. Bush has called Saddam a modern Hitler, regularly mispronounces his name, re-fuses to call him by a title and most recently branded him a tyrant whose savagery and use of "tools of terror" have "sickened the world."

Asked earlier if he held Saddam accountable for the treatment of American POWs, Bush shot back a firm, "You can count on it."

But asked how, a White House spokesman said, "At this point we can't say how that will be. . . . It's ticklish in the sense that the war isn't over yet. We've got a long way to go. But these are issues that can and will be dealt with."

The secret hope in the Bush administration is that at the end of the war, if Saddam is still alive, he might be assassinated by an Iraqi faction hoping to rule Iraq.

Another long-shot scenario is that the ignominy of defeat and the blow to Saddam's ego might force him to take his own life.

As, Bush might note, Hitler did.