Grim as the war preparations of the Bush administration have become, the work has its goofy side:

After warning Americans that unending billions of dollars must still be spent for arms against the Soviet menace, President Bush turned to beseech Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev for backing in the American threat of war against Iraq's Saddam Hussein.So the two-track Bush war policy seems to require that Gorbachev cooperate and support the Bush plan to attack Saddam while, at the same time, Bush will supervise continued preparations to blow Gorbachev and the Soviet Union to smithereens.

The latest reports hold that the Bush emissary to Moscow, Secretary of State James Baker, got a qualified yes from Gorbachev, an agreement that force might be used against Saddam but only as a last resort approved by the United Nations.

Bush was more successful with his armaments instructions to Congress, winning agreement to keep the money pipeline flowing on weapons specifically designed - not for war with Iraq - but for war against the Soviet Union.

Since defense spending is spread through most congressional districts, it wasn't difficult to get approval for continuing the multibillion-dollar appropriations, even for such exotic white elephants as the B-2 Stealth bomber and the "Star Wars" system of space-based missile defense.

Under the $289 billion defense authorization agreed to by the White House and Congress, another $4.1 billion was allocated for the B-2 bomber. The aircraft is designed specifically for a second-strike on the Soviet Union, to evade radar and mop up targets that might survive a massive American nuclear missile attack.

The "Star Wars" anti-missile system, also intended for use in the event of war with the Soviet Union, will receive another $2.9 billion from American taxpayers in the defense budget.

When it's done, analysts estimate, at least half the nation's combat forces will be deployed in the Middle East, including most of our combat Marines, most of our tanks and most of the Navy's combat-ready aircraft carriers.

The deployment requiring concentration of American forces from all over the world in one remote area comes about while Bush administration officials still warn of the warlike danger of the Soviet Union.

After he was beseeched by Bush to help threaten Saddam, Gorbachev did some beseeching of his own, traveling like a humble petitioner from Moscow to Bonn.

The official Gorbachev business in Germany was to sign a non-aggression treaty with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, 45 years after Nazi Germany was ground into total defeat by the Soviet Union, the United States and other allies.

Gorbachev's other purpose was to plead for more financial aid from the reunited Germany for the collapsed Soviet economy.

The goofiness comes full circle when the victorious Soviet Union holds out a tin cup to the vanquished Germans. And Americans who shared that victory spend money on more war, the prospect of a real war against Iraq and war against a phantom Soviet aggressor.