In "What Are the Boys Fighting For?" {op-ed, Aug. 28}, Mark Shields quoted American journalist Dick Strout: "When a man dies, he wants to die for something important." We, the representatives of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, strongly agree. That is why we are saddened by Shields's assertion that Kuwait is not a country worth fighting or dying for.

It is our fervent hope that the Middle East crisis can be settled without major combat. We believe the focus should be on diplomatic initiatives, although negotiations must not begin until all Iraqi troops have been withdrawn from our country and our constitutional government has been restored to power.

But should American lives be lost, we do not feel that terrible sacrifice would be "unimportant." That is because American forces in the Middle East would be fighting for democratic principles including freedom of speech and of the press and human rights -- all democratic ideals. They would be fighting for the return of American hostages, illegally detained by Iraq's occupying force. And they would be fighting for their own strategic interests -- to prevent more of one of the world's most valuable resources from falling into the hands of a brutal tyrant.

Mark Shields wrote that the present conflict is America's first without a "declared moral premise." Again, we strongly disagree. What could be more moral and noble than helping a nation of 2 million people regain their homeland? Was it not this same morality that has prompted the United States throughout its history to fight to restore freedom and justice to people who have had those rights so brutally crushed?

Shields quoted Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Calif.) as saying "Americans don't die for princes, sultans and emirs." We agree. Kuwaitis, including members of the present government, are not asking Americans to fight for our royal family; we are asking them to fight alongside us on behalf of Kuwaiti citizens.

Americans should know, however, that Kuwaitis want desperately to restore their legitimate government. Kuwait's constitution, drafted in 1962, provides the legal basis for a democratic form of government. Yes, as Shields pointed out, Kuwait is a monarchy, but a monarchy based on democratic principles. Article 4 of the Constitution gives legitimacy to the Al-Sabah family as the ruling family. Article 6 establishes a government that is both democratic and sovereign. It is a government that has provided free medical care to its citizens along with free education and scholarships, generous retirement and unemployment benefits and rights for women. Most important, it is a government that has been among the world's leaders in supplying foreign aid to developing nations.

Again, we repeat that it is our most fervent hope that not a single American life will be lost in the Middle East. But should that happen, we want Americans to know that the loss of young lives will not have been in vain. -- Kareem Al-Saeed