The following are excerpts from two speeches President Bush delivered yesterday, one to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Baltimore and the other to a Republican fund-raiser in North Kingstown, R.I.

To VFW in Baltimore

Apologies for keeping you waiting. There are some events going on around the world, and I was on the telephone to a good friend of the United States, President {Turgut} Ozal of Turkey, and also to another great friend of the United States, Prime Minister {Margaret} Thatcher of the United Kingdom. And I must say, I'm proud of the support that we are all getting around the world. . . .

I'm also grateful to have this special opportunity to discuss an issue of great concern to all Americans, the crisis in the Persian Gulf -- a crisis that will require American planning, patience, and yes, personal sacrifice. But a crisis that we must and will meet if we are to stop aggression, help our friends, and protect our own interests in the peace and stability of countries around the globe.

Eighteen days ago these beliefs prompted me to take action in the Middle East, to restore the sovereignty of Kuwait and deter those who threaten friendly countries and the vital interests of America. And I acted knowing that our cause would not be easy, but that our cause is right.

And that while one should not underestimate those who endanger peace, an even greater mistake would be to underestimate America's commitment to our friends, when our friends are imperiled or our commitment to international order when that, too, is imperiled.

Today the outcome is not yet decided. Hard choices remain. But of this we are certain: America will not be intimidated. And when some ask, "Where does America stand?" our answer is: America stands where it always has, against aggression, against those who would use force to replace the rule of law.

And who better than this group know that throughout history we've learned that we must stand up to evil? It's a truth which the past 18 days have reaffirmed. And its lessons speak to America and to the world.

The first lesson is as vivid as the memories of Normandy, Khe Sanh, Pork Chop Hill. We've been reminded again that aggression must and will be checked. And so, at the request of our friends, we have sent U.S. forces to the Middle East -- reluctantly, but decisively -- knowing, as Teddy Roosevelt said, that America means many things -- among them equality of rights, and therefore equality of duty and obligation. And yet we are not acting alone but in concert, hoping to protect our own national security interests as well as those of the broader community of nations.

Which brings me to the second lesson reaffirmed by the past 18 days. By itself, America can do much. Together with its friends and allies, America can do much more for peace and for justice. Think back with me to World War II when together allies confronted a horror which embodied hell on Earth. Or Korea, where United Nations forces opposed totalitarianism.

Today, once again, many nations -- many of them Moslem -- have joined to counter aggression and thus to restore the peace. And our Saudi friends, under the wise leadership of King Fahd, ask for our help in deterring further aggression by Iraq. And I salute the many countries who have courageously responded to Saudi Arabia's request.

I also salute those governments who are responding to the Emir of Kuwait's call for the full enforcement of United Nations sanctions. We must not delude ourselves. Iraq's invasion was more than a military attack on tiny Kuwait. It was a ruthless assault on the very essence of international order and civilized ideals.

And now, in a further offense against all norms of international behavior, Iraq has imposed restrictions on innocent civilians from many countries. This is unacceptable and that's why the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously Saturday night to condemn Iraq's action, just as it earlier voted to condemn the invasion itself.

They know as we do, that leaders who use citizens as pawns deserve and will receive the scorn and condemnation of the entire world.

And so to the leaders of Iraq I'll now make two points clear: In moving foreign citizens against their will, you are violating the norms of your own religion. You are going against the age-old Arab tradition of showing kindness and hospitality to visitors.

And so my message is: Release all foreigners now. Give them the right to come and go as they wish. Adhere to international law and U.N. Security Council Resolution 664.

We've been reluctant to use the term "hostage," but when {Iraqi President} Saddam Hussein specifically offers to trade the freedom of those citizens of many nations he holds against their will in return for concessions, there can be little doubt that whatever these innocent people are called, they are in fact hostages.

And I want there to be no misunderstanding. I will hold the government of Iraq responsible for the safety and well-being of American citizens held against their will!

Let me also take a moment to thank {Soviet} President {Mikhail} Gorbachev for his recent words condemning the Iraqi invasion. He has shown, if anyone doubted it, that nations which joined to fight aggression in World War II can work together to stop the aggressors of today.

A third lesson has also been reaffirmed by the last 18 days. As veterans it won't surprise you: the steadfast character of the American will. Look to the sands of Saudi Arabia and the waters offshore where brave Americans are doing their duty just as you did at Anzio, and Inchon, and Hamburger Hill.

And think of the men and women aboard our planes and ships -- young, alone, and so very far from home. They make us humble. They make us proud. And I salute the finest soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines that any nation could possibly have. And moreover, I pledge to you we will do whatever it takes to help them complete their mission.

This means realizing the fourth lesson reaffirmed by the past 18 days. Although the size of America's armed forces in the years ahead will be smaller because the threat to our security is changing, future American defense capacity must be even more a lean, mean, fighting machine. And by 1995 we estimate that our security needs can be met by an active force 25 percent smaller than today's, the lowest level since 1950. And yet we must ensure that a reduction of numbers does not mean a reduction in American strength.

Operation Desert Shield proves vividly that instead of reliving past contingencies, we must prepare for the challenges of the 1990s and beyond.

By ensuring that our troops are ready and trained, we can exert our presence in key areas and respond effectively to crisis, and this is readiness measured in days and hours, not weeks and months. And Operation Desert Shield has underscored the need to be able to get our soldiers where they are needed and when they are needed. This kind of responsiveness will be critical in the crises of the future.

Recently, our outstanding chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Colin Powell, spoke to this when he praised the finest peacetime military in the history of America. We will be smaller in troop strength and restructured, but we will remain purposeful, proud, and effective.

Just look at the last 18 days. Desert Shield has been a classic case of America's military at its best. I think, for instance, of Airman 1st Class Wade West, home on leave to be married. On Aug. 7, he was called up, and within an hour, he had the ceremony performed and left for the Middle East. He's now stationed over in Saudi Arabia. You talk about a guy that gets things done. But, I would like to emphasize, with his bride -- wherever she may be.

And another example -- seven years ago, Diana Kroptivich worried at home while her husband, Walter, steamed off the Lebanon coast on the USS New Jersey defending the Marines. Today, their roles are reversed. Retired, Walter is at home with their 6-year-old son, and Diana serves aboard the destroyer {tender} USS Yellowstone.

Here, here's an Army couple. Today, Paratrooper Joseph Hooter of the 82nd Airborne Division is serving in Saudi Arabia, and his wife, Nurse Dominique Allen of the 44th Medical Brigade, will be deployed there within the next two weeks.

And finally, recall the 8-year-old who, watching her dad leave for the Mediterranean, spoke truth from the mouths of babes. "I just think," she said, "that they shouldn't let daddies go away this long, but they still have to, to keep the world safe."

These profiles show the true caliber of America and the vital essence of our mission. What's more, they remind us of the fifth and final lesson, reaffirmed by the past 18 days, the need for a continued strong defense budget to support American troops.

Or, as George Washington said in his first inaugural address, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving the peace." History has shown the wisdom of his words, especially in our century. What Desert Shield has shown is that America can ensure the peace by remaining militarily strong.

And now, I know that we're operating in a time of budget restraint. We have limited resources. We must use them wisely. And the budget deficit is a threat to our vital interests at home and won't be made easier by today's threat abroad. Everyone realizes that the deficit is too large and that it's got to be brought down, and that Congress must act courageously and immediately when it returns from recess.

But here's the point: We cannot attack the deficit by attacking the very heart of our armed forces, committed men and women who are motivated and ready. And last week I asked Congress to do what we have done, produce a budget proposal, including defense, that is both responsive and responsible and, most of all, fair. And when they do, I will listen; listen, but not break faith with the troops who are defending our nation.

Make no mistake: To prevent aggression, to keep America militarily prepared, I will oppose the defense budget slashers who are out of tune with what America needs to keep freedom secure and safe.

You know, most Americans know that when it comes to national defense, finishing second means finishing last. And so they reject what the House Armed Services Committee recently suggested -- unacceptable cuts from our defense budget for fiscal year 1991.

Most Americans know, too, that giving peace a chance does not mean taking a chance on peace, and so they endorse giving the military the tools to do its job -- the Peacemaker, the Midgetman, the B-2 and the Strategic Defense Initiative. Americans want arms negotiations to succeed, but they know that even a START treaty will not help our security if we disarm unilaterally.

And let us never forget that our strong national defense policies have helped us gain the peace. We need a strong defense today to maintain that peace. And I will fight for that defense, and I need your help. So help me convince the Congress, given recent events, to take another look and to adequately fund our defense budget.

Let me tell you a little story about why I feel so strongly. I was talking to some of the young soldiers who liberated Panama. We invited them to come with {commander of the U.S. Southern Command} Gen. {Maxwell R.} Thurman and others to the Cabinet Room for a briefing for me. And I asked one of them, a medic, about the operation. Corp. Roderick Ringstaff spoke of combat, and he spoke of the heroics of others, but not of his own. And next to him was his commanding officer. And so his commanding officer filled in the rest.

This medic had been wounded but repeatedly braved fire to rescue other wounded, pulling soldier after soldier to safety. For that he was awarded the Silver Star for bravery. And listening, I thought to myself, I will never send young men and women into battle with less than the very best that this nation can provide them. I will never, I will never ever let Americans like this down.

August 1990 has witnessed what history will judge one of the most crucial deployments of allied powers since World War II. Two weeks ago, I called for the complete, immediate, and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Second, the restoration of Kuwait's legitimate government. Third, the security and the stability of Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf. And fourth, the safety and protection of American citizens abroad.

And today, I say those objectives are and will remain unchanged. And will it take time? Of course, for we're engaged in a cause larger than ourselves. A cause perhaps best shown by words many of you remember, words spoken by one of the greatest Americans of our time to allied soldiers, and sailors, and airmen: "The eyes of the world are upon you," he told them. "The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you." And then he concluded with this moving prayer, "Let us all beseech the blessing of almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking."

Fellow veterans, more than half of all VFW members fought in World War II. Many of you serving under the man who spoke those words, Dwight David Eisenhower. And you know how America remains the hope of liberty-loving people everywhere.

Half a century ago, the world had the chance to stop a ruthless aggressor and missed it. And I pledge to you, we will not make that mistake again. Together. For you see, together we can successfully oppose tyranny and help those nations who look to us for leadership and vision.

Thank you for your support and your prayers and may God bless the land we deeply love, the United States of America. Thank you all and God bless you.To R.I. Fund-Raiser

Today I want to just mention . . . two of the most critical issues that our nation has faced in decades, and I'm talking about our own fiscal affairs, our own budget deficit, and then, of course, the subject that's on everybody's minds, the question of the Middle East. . . .

I have not lost my interest in seeing us get a budget agreement that is going to reform the budget process, get the deficit down and get it under control once and for all. We owe that to the younger generations here today. And this is a national problem -- and it isn't going to go away. And, sure, it's been affected by events that are happening halfway around the world, but we must not let those events reduce the urgency that we all feel about getting the federal deficit under control. . . .

Even while we're here in this extraordinarily tranquil setting, our thoughts are indeed over in the Middle East where other Americans are seeing not this serene beauty of Narragansett Bay, but an arid landscape where the hot desert winds carry, regrettably, the threat of conflict. And no sane person likes the specter of confrontation. And yet, as we try to chart the course of our existence, we must be guided by the imperatives of a strong moral compass, and it was not with passionate haste, but, really, with a heavy heart, that I had to commit our troops to Saudi Arabia.

I took this action not out of some national hunger for conflict, but out of the moral responsibility, shared by so many committed nations around the world to protect our world from fundamental evil, and we cannot remain silent for peace is more than just the absence of war, and its preservation really exacts on great countries like ours a certain obligation. . . .

Nations of every language, of every religion, size and form of government have joined in renouncing the aggression against Kuwait, and it is also important to note that 12 Arab countries condemned Iraq -- 12 condemned Iraq at the Arab summit, and that the United Nations Security Council -- and I want to commend Ambassador {Thomas} Pickering and the fine work that our delegation is doing at the United Nations, 'cause it is important that we bring along and lead our friends around the world in this regard.

The United Nations Security Council approved Chapter VII sanctions on Iraq because of its aggression, the first time that's happened in I think something like 23 years, and we've seen an extraordinary expression of world unity, and I am hopeful that together, the United States and many other peace-loving nations committed to this noble effort, will prevail. . . .

Rhode Island also responded to the moral obligation to defend these {human} rights when the world was called upon to confront a staggering aggression during World War II. And your state answered by sending 58,000 of its finest sons and daughters into battle. And the world is now called upon to confront another aggressor, another threat, made by a person whose values -- who has no values when it comes to respecting international law, a man of evil, standing against human life itself.

And I am convinced that the same moral underpinnings that have underpinned this state for years and underpinned our great country is the compass that's going to guide us. And I believe that our presence in the Middle East sends a great signal of commitment around the world.

I must tell you that I am troubled by Americans that now seem to be held against their will and other foreigners held against their will. I am grateful for our friends. This morning I had a long talk with President Ozal of Turkey on the telephone, and if you look at the map and then see the courageous stand taken by President Ozal and the Turks, you will understand what it means to work cooperatively with other countries, and you'll understand why I am grateful for the full cooperation of this strategically placed ally.

Another talk I had this morning, and one of the reasons I was a little late on this trip, was with Margaret Thatcher. And you talk about somebody that stands tall when the going gets tough, and you talk about somebody that knows what it is to have a moral compass -- thank God for allies and friends like Margaret Thatcher when the going gets tough. And right now it could get fairly tough over there.

I might say parenthetically I feel blessed as your president by the quality and the character of the leadership in our own government. I can do my job, knowing that options come my way, knowing that our team stays together, and knowing that I am relying perhaps on the finest Cabinet and the finest people in the Pentagon that any president could have to work with, and I am very grateful to each and every one of them, as we approach some very tough decisions that lie ahead.