On Oct. 21 two Post columns employed most unfortunate and tricky catch words in attacking American policy in responding to the naked aggression and horrible atrocities of Saddam Hussein. Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta {"War for What?" op-ed} describe our policy as playing "post-Cold War games" and fueling "the patriotic ardor of America gearing up for war." They urge "a negotiated settlement, especially one that allows {Saddam Hussein} to save face."

Colman McCarthy {"Lure of the Aggressive Cure," Style} declares that "the pleasures of aggression are legitimized" by our massing of troops in Saudi Arabia, and he decries Congress for "coming up with billions of dollars for Saudi Arabia's war."

A fair question is what fundamental lessons should we have learned from the early appeasement of Adolf Hitler, a dictator to whom Saddam Hussein is properly compared. The responses of the American president and Congress to Saddam Hussein -- and the responses of most members of the United Nations and even of most Arab nations -- show that most world leaders have learned something from the failure of appeasement policies following the aggressions of Hitler before World War II.

If Great Britain and France had not surrendered the Sudetenland to Hitler in 1938, perhaps Hitler would not have invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. And when Hitler did invade Czechoslovakia in 1939, the sanctions of the democratic nations were largely words of condemnation. So Hitler went on to invade Poland in September 1939. Then we experienced World War II and casualties and a Holocaust leaving more than 20 million people dead.

Perhaps, in a piecemeal and imperfect way, we are at last learning that aggression must be promptly met by whatever effective sanctions can be mounted. Of course, we don't know all the possible costs of a United Nations policy of countering aggression with sanctions backed by military force. But imagine the costs if we permit Saddam Hussein a victory in the Middle East. And imagine the lesson that may be taught by the undoing of Saddam Hussein -- a lesson not simply for him but for others who are quick to use military force to gain their ends.