Vice President Quayle, responding to critics who have called on the Bush administration to allow more time for international sanctions against Iraq to work, said yesterday that the "moral costs" of waiting to use military force may be as high as or higher than the costs of going to war.

In a speech at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, Quayle posed a series of questions on the moral implications of both going to war and of waiting, and he asked his audience at the Catholic university to weigh both.

"There must be limits to our patience," he said. "And those limits are reached when our restraint threatens to undermine other, equally moral goals." Those goals, Quayle said, are saving the people of Kuwait from further "barbarism," protecting the U.S. military from potentially greater casualties if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has more time to prepare for war, and protecting the world from "nuclear blackmail" if Iraq is allowed to develop such a weapon.

The speech, which was reviewed by the White House, represented the most systematic attempt of any administration official, including President Bush, to lay out the historical, political and moral arguments for U.S. policy in the gulf.

Quayle is among the Republican leaders who have urged Bush to call a special session of Congress to pass a resolution similar to the one approved yesterday by the United Nations. Yesterday Bush expressed strong reservations about a special session after congressional leaders from both parties argued against it. {Story on Page A22.}

To make his case that the administration's position is consistent with the Persian Gulf policies of previous American presidents, Republican and Democrat, Quayle cited the Carter Doctrine of the 1970s, in which the former president vowed to oppose "any outside force" that sought to control the flow of Persian Gulf oil.

An administration official said Quayle, a former member of both the House and Senate who retains close ties to those bodies, "saw the debate turning to the question of 'Why not wait?' He wanted to answer that, and also felt that the historical case that Democrats and Republicans alike have treated the gulf as a strategically vital area has not been made."

As it happens, the author of the Carter Doctrine, former president Jimmy Carter, has been sharply critical of Bush's recent moves in the gulf.

Earlier this month, at a conference at Hofstra University in New York, Carter criticized Bush for moving from a defensive to an offensive approach and called for negotiations with Saddam. He said that if the United States launched an attack on Iraq, it would "reap great and very serious deleterious consequences politically."

Speaking this week in Atlanta, Carter reiterated his call on Bush to give the sanctions against Iraq more time to work.

Quayle, while emphasizing that the administration will "spare no effort" in searching for a peaceful end to the crisis, said Bush has already exhibited "patience and restraint" while Saddam has taken Americans hostage to use as human shields, committed outrages against the U.S. Embassy by keeping its occupants under siege and continued to commit "barbarism" in occupied Kuwait.

As the administration waits, Quayle said, "We must also be alert to the moral costs of such a course." Being patient with Saddam, he said, "prolongs the agony" of the people of Kuwait. The longer the United States refrains from action, he said, "the more time Saddam Hussein has to tighten his grip on Kuwait and the harder it may be to break that grip, if and when war comes."

Posing a serious of rhetorical questions about Saddam's potential actions while the sanctions are being allowed to take effect, the vice president asked, "Does patience today risk greater American casualties tomorrow? And if so, is this a moral course of action?"

The speech also makes the case, for the first time by a senior administration spokesman, that Bush is following in the footsteps of not only Republican but Democratic presidents in finding the gulf of central national interest to the United States.

Quayle traced the history of U.S. policy in the region since President Harry S. Truman in 1947 issued the doctrine that bears his name. It outlined the policy of preventing communism from taking hold in Turkey and thus threatening the political stability of the Middle East. More than three decades later, Quayle said, the threat of Soviet encroachment in the gulf prompted Carter to proclaim what Quayle calls "the equivalent of the Truman Doctrine for the gulf."

Bush's policy, Quayle said, is a continuation of this policy line and puts him in the company of all recent presidents who found compelling American interests in protecting the Middle East from control by either clients of a superpower, such as the Soviets, or what Quayle calls a potential "leader of a new Arab superpower."

The prospect of Saddam "strutting across the world stage at the head of a malevolent global power, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction and controlling a large portion of the world's energy supplies, is something no sane person would welcome," Quayle said.

With Soviet control over client states in the Middle East almost non-existent, Quayle said, the stabilizing force of the two superpowers working to prevent apocalyptic moves by gulf states has disappeared and the new "post-Cold War world . . .is actually more anarchic and more violence-prone than the world which preceded it."

For that reason, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, he said, is "bound to set a precedent, either on behalf of greater world order or on behalf of greater chaos."

Bill Kristol, the vice president's chief of staff, said Quayle wrote the speech himself.

"I've been asked {who wrote the speech} a hundred times, and my answer is the same," he said. "The vice president did."