If Saddam Hussein is not stopped now, when can he be stopped? The measures taken must be concerted action by the major industrial nations with other Middle Eastern countries. These countries must give Saddam Hussein an ultimatum now. Either withdraw his troops from Kuwait within a given period of time, or his oil fields will be bombed one by one until he withdraws. It's that simple. He must not be allowed any more blackmail. LOUIS G. GUADAGNOLI McLean

In a significant move, the Soviet Union has rejected the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait (i.e., the use of violence as a means of settling disputes) as contrary to the Soviet Union's "new thinking." It is to be hoped that the international community will incorporate such thinking while working out an effective response to this outrage, which must be based upon collective economic and political sanctions.

Almost inevitably, a number of dubious chickens have come home to roost in helping to create the crisis and which partially determine international reaction. In my opinion these include: (1) the pathetic response to past Iraqi use of chemical weapons; (2) the continued supply of arms and credit to Iraq (and a long list of other unsavory regimes) by such countries as France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and China; (3) the too heavy dependence of Western economies and lifestyles on a cheap supply of oil; and (4) a blind eye, for too long turned, to the antidemocratic nature and poor human-rights records of the Saudi and Kuwaiti regimes (the supposed good guys). It should be also pointed out most strongly that the recent United States invasion of Panama has undermined the moral position of this country's leaders with regard to their objection to Iraqi actions.

The immediate way out of this present mess is unclear, but in the long term it must include suppression of the international arms trade and positive steps at the forthcoming review conference of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

MICHAEL J. CLAGUE Washington

The events of the past week in the Middle East have given me a taste of disgust for not only the leader of Iraq but also for the leaders of our oil companies. In less than 48 hours after the invasion of Kuwait, gas prices at the pump have risen on the average 5 cents to 15 cents. Do the oil executives believe that the American public is so gullible that unrest in the Middle East can lead to an overnight rise in gasoline prices?

What happened to our so-called surplus of oil which was amassed during the period of low crude oil prices in the mid to late 1980s? In reality the Middle East situation should reflect a market increase at the pumps within two to four months. This takes into account the surplus oil, shipping times, refinement and transportation to dealers.

Could oil companies have found better time to take advantage of the public? They are using an international crisis as an excuse to raise prices -- during the height of summer vacations. Reservations and travel plans have already been made, and we can only cringe when we "fill 'er up."

Maybe we consumers can use this predicament to our advantage. With the rebirth of the environmental movement, conservation now seems to be of utmost importance. We can demand that our representatives in Washington push for legislation that would require greater conservation measures and research for alternative fuel sources. This would make us far less reliant on foreign oil reserves. We also can drive less, car pool, use mass transit and drive smaller cars.

In the meantime, we can thank our illustrious oil executives for heightening the immediate sense of a "crisis at the pump," while they line their pockets with our money as quickly as possible. PAUL F. BILLINGSLEY Bowie