LONDON -- The people whose country was overrun by Iraqi troops have some advice for President Bush: Don't wait; do it now.

"Time is on the side of {Iraqi President} Saddam Hussein," said a senior Kuwaiti official here. "If you give him time, he will use it militarily and politically -- militarily to dig in his troops and politically to undermine any sense of Arab unity against him and to portray himself as the victim rather than the aggressor. You can't afford to wait."

Kuwaitis who have been stranded here by the invasion say they are resigned to the possibility that their small Persian Gulf sheikdom may be devastated, either by economic strangulation or by military operations in a struggle to wrest control back from Iraq. It is a price many say they are willing to pay.

"I worry because I know the only solution is military intervention," said Seham Yousef, who arrived here with her husband and three daughters just two days before the invasion Aug. 2. She has four brothers and sisters and many other relatives in Kuwait.

"I know there must be sacrifices," she said. "If a burglar enters your house to steal money, you must fight back. So if my sister or brothers are hurt, I am prepared for it."

There are about 25,000 Kuwaitis in Britain, a nation with long-standing ties to Kuwait and the largest gathering place for Kuwaiti citizens in the West. Some Kuwaitis are permanent residents here; others are students. But most, like Yousef, are tourists who journey to London in the summer to escape 120-degree temperatures back home. Now they are trapped in another land while their country is in the hands of an invader they liken to Adolf Hitler.

From 1899 until Kuwaiti independence in 1961, Britain was responsible for the sheikdom's defense and foreign policy and granted it an annual subsidy. Shortly after independence, Britain dispatched troops at Kuwait's request to help rebuff an Iraqi claim to Kuwaiti territory.

Now, one by one, Kuwaitis make their way daily to their country's little embassy on Queens Gate Road in posh Kensington. Their outfits vary widely. Some wear traditional robes; others come in business suits; young people arrive in bluejeans and T-shirts. But their mission is the same: to seek news from home and express support for their beleaguered nation.

Most come away empty-handed. "We know a bit about the situation inside Kuwait," said an embassy official. "About individual families, we know nothing."

Kuwaitis stranded here feel powerless, angry and isolated. For several days, they had no access to money. Hotels and shops stopped accepting Kuwaiti credit cards, and banks refused to change Kuwaiti dinars into British pounds. Now two Kuwaiti banks with offices here have agreed to change dinars at the old rate, but have limited the amounts to as little as 250 dinars a week -- about $470.

For all their unhappiness, most Kuwaitis say they believe that somehow they will be home again before summer's end. One of their biggest fears, they say, is that they might be turned into the region's new Palestinians -- Arabs without a homeland, wandering aimlessly through history.

"It won't happen to us," said Yousef. "There is too much at stake. But we need America's help -- we are literally begging you for help."

London has become a second home for many of the gulf's wealthiest Arabs, but for most it is still a foreign land. Kuwaitis especially have a reputation here for seeming extravagant and spoiled. Although the British public has backed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's tough stance against the Iraqi invasion, little of that sympathy has trickled down to local Kuwaitis.

The Kuwaitis here say their image abroad is undeserved and unfair.

Those with money have reached out to help others trapped in foreign countries.

A 20-year-old youth who came here last month with his mother and sister, said his family has taken in friends who ran out of cash.

A committee associated with the Kuwaiti Student Union has raised funds to support those in need or to provide plane tickets to send them to Saudi Arabia or Bahrain.

The Kuwaitis here say they appreciate Bush's military support, but they are pressing for further action. "Did the Americans ask anyone before they bombed Libya?" asked Adela Abdullah, a Kuwaiti visiting London with her husband and four children. "We need you to attack now. We don't care what happens. We'll take back Kuwait even if it's flat. But we want it back."