The surge of congressional doubts this week about the new U.S. military deployments in the Persian Gulf has underscored yet again the enormous difficulties President Bush has faced in directing his message to many different domestic and global audiences.

Bush's effort last week to frighten Iraqi President Saddam Hussein into withdrawing from Kuwait by nearly doubling the number of U.S. troops in the gulf area and suspending plans to relieve troops already there has scared some Americans into thinking that the president may be moving too quickly toward war.

Since Bush first sent U.S. forces to the gulf to counter Iraq's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait, he and other administration officials have had trouble articulating clearly the reasons for their action. They have cited various rationales, from protecting U.S. oil supplies and avoiding economic damage to countering unprovoked aggression and confronting a modern-day Hitler. By all accounts, the administration's words and actions so far have failed either to convince Saddam that the United States is serious about going to war against him or to make Americans understand clearly why they might have to fight.

According to many specialists and administration officials, the difficulty Bush has encountered trying to meet these aims, and the often-confused messages that have come from administration officials, have origins in both Bush's management of the gulf crisis and in the ever-widening global network in which he must operate.

Bush is a throwback to the generation of "wise men" who shaped U.S. foreign policy after World War II, an elite who believed that they had the training and experience to make the right decisions, and that public opinion would follow. Bush has by nature eschewed a focus on communication, on the need to inform and prepare the public for the consequences of his decisions. Many of his public statements have only hinted at the true direction of his policy, and others have masked it.

Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster, said President Ronald Reagan "acted from the gut and communicated from the gut. Bush acts intellectually and tries to communicate intellectually. {With Bush}, it's going to be reasoned and thought-out and all the nuances and subtleties will be there, {but} that makes it difficult to rally the nation."

At the same time, the crisis has underscored how the presidency can become the center of a global echo chamber. Every statement or hint can be broadcast and viewed almost simultaneously in the capitals of both friends and foes. In this environment, it becomes much more difficult if not impossible to send discreet signals to one audience without others listening in.

For example, senior Bush administration officials have said for some time that Saddam cannot be rewarded for his aggression with any concessions in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. But in his address to the U.N. General Assembly last month, Bush unexpectedly hinted that if Iraq pulled out of Kuwait, "there may be opportunities" for settling "the conflicts that divide the Arabs from Israel."

Bush then tried to tell reporters at a news conference that he did not intend any new signal. But according to administration officials, the speech was in fact a deliberate signal to moderate Arab states in the anti-Iraq alliance, especially Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that the United States would push for a broader Middle East peace settlement after the gulf crisis.

It was a wink that could not be ignored by the rest of the world.

Some signals to one audience can backfire on another. In nearly doubling the troop deployments last week, Bush intended to show Saddam that the alliance would be prepared to go to war if necessary. This was a significant new objective for the troops of Operation Desert Shield, whose mission Bush had initially said was "wholly defensive." Senior administration policy-makers said they hoped Saddam would see the huge accumulation of forces gathering in the desert and conclude he had no choice but to retreat.

But the toughness Bush wanted to convey to Baghdad also echoed across the United States, where public support for armed conflict was already on the wane. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) said that Bush had played the diplomatic cards "masterfully," but neglected the audience at home. "There wasn't adequate preparation of Congress or explanation to the American people," he said.

Kenneth L. Khachigian, a White House speechwriter under Presidents Nixon and Reagan, said: "You've got to figure Hussein's out there being advised there are great divisions in the United States and President Bush is not acting with absolute unity. He probably has a lot of people {recalling} Vietnam and the effect of a divided government and the effect of the national media and various opinion leaders. While Bush is trying to send a signal of resoluteness what Hussein is receiving is anything but resolute."

Baker acknowledged yesterday the difficulties of trying to frighten Saddam but not the Congress. "Someone said one time that democracy can sometimes be messy," he said. "And indeed, that's true."

Bush yesterday tried to impress on the lawmakers the need to show unity by showing them headlines from the government-controlled Iraqi press reporting on the congressional doubts about new troop deployments.

Hart said the congressional impatience had arisen abruptly because Bush had switched objectives. "People thought this was a defensive action in which America was drawing a line in the sand, saying don't go across it," Hart said. "It seems to me the public said, 'We can support that.' The difficulty is when they erased the line in the sand and said, 'What we need to do is make sure American troops begin to cross this line.' "

Saddam has indicated he understands the American political mood and the lack of patience here for a war with heavy casualties. For most of October, he seemed to be waiting for the United States to give up and go home. A critical question now is how Saddam interprets the latest round of questions from Capitol Hill and threats from Bush.

Marvin Kalb, director of the Shorestein Barone Center on the Press, Politics and Public Diplomacy at Harvard University, said the president and his adversary may be not communicating at all, at least in public. "From the very beginning, the president has been operating through a largely Western prism," he said. "He seems to be making the assumption that a Western logic, a Western system of communicating messages, will be received by a Middle Eastern, authoritarian, militaristic mind, in the same way that Sen. {George J.} Mitchell (D-Maine) will get a signal about the budget.

"My sense of the world of signals is that we seem to be talking past each other at this point. Saddam's mind has been formed in the souks and bazaars of the Middle East. The president's has not been -- his has been formed in {the secret Yale society} Skull & Bones and Yale. These are worlds -- psychological worlds -- in collision. The administration seems to be trying to export Western logic to the Middle East, and there aren't any buyers."