As a student at the University of Michigan during the 1960s, Michael Zweig helped organize the first college "teach-in" against the Vietnam War, marched in protests from Detroit to North Carolina and was arrested so many times he "stopped counting."

Some things never change.

Now an economics professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Zweig has trimmed his hair but not his beliefs. Like others who marched against the Vietnam War and ultimately helped bring about a U.S. withdrawal, Zweig is part of a small but potentially significant movement opposed to a military solution in the Persian Gulf crisis.

So far its activities have consisted of a handful of college teach-ins and isolated protests in cities around the country. Public support for President Bush's handling of the Persian Gulf crisis remains high. But few people doubt that dissent would spread if the United States found itself enmeshed in a war.

"The country is more sensitive because we've been through this once before," said Zweig, who has published a how-to pamphlet on organizing teach-ins and discusses the crisis in class with his students. "I think this is something that is going to galvanize millions of people, and it's not going to take many, many years the way it did in Vietnam."

Like many peace activists, Zweig's objections center chiefly on the morality of using military force to safeguard U.S. economic interests -- namely oil.

But Vietnam-era protestors are not the only ones to raise doubts about the escalating U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf. So many Democratic members of Congress have begun raising questions that House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) plans a Capitol Hill meeting next Wednesday to discuss it.

Rep. William S. Broomfield (Mich.), ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, yesterday called the troop buildup "a major change" in policy and said Bush should have consulted Congress on it.

Spokesmen for minority groups have noted the overrepresentation of minorities in the all-volunteer Army. Others fear Bush is too quick on the trigger and might not wait for economic sanctions to run their course.

And political conservatives, by tradition suspicious of overseas commitments, have questioned the president's assertion that vital national interests are at stake.

But it is the prospect of an organized peace movement, along the lines of the one that evolved during Vietnam, that could pose the stiffest challenge to administration policy in the Middle East.

Activists such as Zweig describe a kind of peace infrastructure, consisting of anti-war and social justice organizations left over from the 1960s as well as newer incarnations.

"What's out there . . . are people who have been involved in peace issues for 30 years, people in high school who don't want to get shot, and a whole range of people in between," Zweig said.

Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department official who released the Pentagon Papers, is perhaps the most prominent member of the earlier anti-war movement to take a stand on the Persian Gulf.

In an article in the Jewish journal Tikkun, Ellsberg called for a reversal of the U.S. buildup, continuation of the ecomomic blockade and, following an Iraqi withdrawal, an international conference on the Palestinian and Lebanese conflicts.

Thus far, of course, such protests are but a whisper compared to the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s. Exit polls during Tuesday's elections indicated that although support for Bush's policy has slipped since the Aug. 2 invasion, 69 percent of Americans still approve of the decision to send troops to Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, many prominent Vietnam-era protestors see important differences between the two conflicts. "There was no character {in Vietnam} with a potential nuclear and chemical capacity capable of threatening people well beyond his borders," said Sam Brown, who organized the Vietnam Moratorium and now develops low- and moderate-income housing in Denver. "Retrospectively, {the North Vietnamese} were not the good guys, but they certainly didn't have the capacity for evil that Saddam Hussein has."

Most members of Congress have tended to share that view, but not all are happy with the way Bush has handled the crisis. Among the most outspoken congressional critics is Rep. Ronald V. Dellums (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, who challenged the president's "war-making authority" in a Los Angeles Times editorial earlier this week.

"There is a strong peace movement in Congress that will not acquiesce in a unilateral administration decision for war," Dellums wrote.

Similarly, on Oct. 26, Dellums joined 81 colleagues in stating that "we are emphatically opposed to any offensive military action."

There also are signs that public attitudes towards the troop deployment are dividing along racial lines. Tuesday's exit poll results showed that while 71 percent of whites approved of sending troops, the rate for blacks was 44 percent. The NAACP recently criticized Bush for vetoing civil rights legislation at the same time he was committing thousands of young blacks to the Middle East.

Perhaps the largest concentration of peace activists is associated with the New York-based National Campaign for Peace in the Middle East, whose supporters include such diverse groups as the Rainbow Coalition, the International Jewish Peace Union and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).

College campuses have generally been quiet. "I would not expect to see substantial campus-based opposition in the absence of a draft and in the absence of shooting," said Harold Jordan, who coordinates the youth and militarism project of the pacifist American Friends Service Committee.

Still, campus teach-ins have been held at dozens of colleges, including the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University, both hotbeds of student activism during the 1960s. And Zweig, 48, the father of a college-age daughter, thinks that is just the beginning.

"In the early stages of the Vietnam War, this kind of interest did not exist," said Zweig.

Staff writer Kenneth J. Cooper contributed to this report.