An imaginative and impassioned appeal from a former secretary of defense to reverse, or at least halt, ongoing cutbacks in US military budgets. With assistance from Schweizer (president of the James Madison Institute), Weinberger (who had a seven-year tour of duty in Ronald Reagan's cabinet) offers five engrossing, vivid (albeit fictive) accounts of the sort of wars America may be obliged to fight in the years ahead. His first pre-millennial belligerency pits the US against a reunification-minded North Korea in league with Communist China (which has an acquisition agenda of its own) during the spring of 1998. The next conflict brings America to deadly blows with an Iran bent on becoming the Middle East's dominant power via preemptive military strikes against its neighbors. Mexico, governed in 2003 by a radical regime that makes a hemisphere-threatening shambles of the domestic economy, becomes an opponent. Also on the enemies list is a revivified Russia whose ultranationalist president decides 2006 would be a very good year to start extending Slavic supremacy throughout Western Europe. Last but not least, America squares off against a Japan determined to recoup its flagging trade fortunes by reestablishing a Greater East Asia Co- Prosperity Sphere. Weinberger's worst-case scenarios afford crude but effective object lessons on the many ways in which US forces could be caught short (in terms of forward bases, manpower, missile defenses, intelligence resources, transport) in close encounters of the combative kind. And if not quite in a class with Tom Clancy or David Hagberg, his cautionary set pieces do pack a narrative punch. A savvy, stirring call to arms by an elder statesman who wants nothing more than to ensure that his country is prepared for whatever aggressions an uncertain future may hold. The text includes a hard-nosed foreword by Lady Margaret Thatcher.