BRUSSELS, NOV. 15 -- Secretary of State James A. Baker III flew here today to begin intensive, country-by-country discussions with other members of the U.N. Security Council that will determine whether the United States seeks the council's approval for military action to force Iraq out of Kuwait.

"If what we hear is favorable, that would be enough for us to reach a decision to go forward" with a council resolution authorizing force, a senior U.S. official told reporters on Baker's plane en route here. "If, on the other hand, the responses are unfavorable, it would be sufficient for us to make a decision that perhaps we might not want to go forward."

President Bush's move last week to almost double the size of the U.S. military deployment in the Persian Gulf has touched off domestic and international controversy about whether he has decided to go to war against the forces of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

However, the administration has assured leaders of Congress that Bush has not decided to use force and has increased U.S. military strength only to have the capability to make such a decision if it seems necessary. As part of its strategy of putting pressure on Saddam, the United States wants the United Nations to approve the use of force as a last resort.

The senior official insisted that, contrary to widespread rumors, the United States does not have a draft resolution to show to other governments. Instead, the official said, Baker still is in the process of counting votes "one country at a time" and that his goal at this point is to ascertain whether a solid majority of the Security Council would endorse the principle of using force if non-military measures fail to drive out the Iraqis.

"We have an idea of the kind of resolution we'd like," the official said. "But that's very different than presenting countries with draft language of a proposal that you are going to consider tabling in the council . . . . Each country is one vote; you need nine votes to pass a resolution, and some are in different places on this.

"I can't predict what countries might or might not say once we get to the point of beginning to focus on language," he added. "We don't know yet whether we will be able or not to go forward, because we don't know for certain that a country {with veto power} might say no."

After taking part in a meeting Friday with the European Community, Baker will fly to Geneva on Saturday to confer with the foreign ministers of the council's three African members: Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Zaire.

He then will go to Paris for separate Sunday meetings with the foreign ministers of two other temporary council members, Romania and Finland, and of three permanent members, France, Britain and the Soviet Union. The five permanent members, which also include the United States and China, can veto any resolution.

Within the last 10 days, Baker has conferred with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen in Cairo and Canadian Foreign Minister Joe Clark in Bermuda.

He will interrupt his U.N. consultations to assist Bush at a three-day summit with European leaders in Paris next week and then accompany the president on a visit to the Middle East. But when Bush ends his trip in Egypt next Friday, Baker will fly to Colombia to consult with the leaders of that Security Council member.

This fast-paced criss-crossing of the globe is necessary, the senior official said, because the United States, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, wants to ascertain the chances of a military force resolution before it relinquishes that post. Yemen, which will be council president in December, is an Arab state that has been leery of antagonizing Iraq, and U.S. officials fear that Yemen might stall action on such a resolution.

Until now, the senior official said, the United States has had only sketchy feedback about the views of other council members. He refused to characterize the positions of other countries, but Britain, France and Canada are believed ready to support a military force resolution. The Soviet Union and China have indicated that they would not veto such a resolution, either voting for it or abstaining. However, the official said they have not explained their positions fully enough to count their votes as certain.

The official also noted that there are different views about the specific form that a U.N. endorsement of military force should take. The Soviet Union, for example, has called repeatedly for the Security Council's Military Staff Committee, composed of top-ranking commanders of the five permanent members, to play a major role in any military action under U.N. auspices. However, the United States and its allies object, because that would open the way to putting their forces in the Persian Gulf under a unified military command.

"We are not talking about that kind of thing," the senior official said. He hinted that the United States would prefer something similar to the resolution adopted by the council on Aug. 25 authorizing U.N. members to use force to enforce the naval blockade of Iraq and Kuwait. That resolution gave such actions U.N. approval but allowed individual countries to retain control over their forces.

Britain, America's closest ally on the council, has suggested that military action should be taken under the U.N. Charter's Article 51, which authorizes self-defense against aggression. U.S. officials believe this could be done legally, but they prefer to have the broader mandate of a council resolution.

Another factor, which accounts for Baker's intense lobbying of the smaller members, is U.S. desire to win passage of a resolution by the largest possible margin. A close vote would be a signal that the world community is seriously divided about using force and could encourage Iraq's intransigence.