A thoughtful, brutally realistic evaluation of the roles the US military should play in the new world disorder that has superseded the bipolar certainties of the Cold War. A back-to-basics disciple of Karl von Clausewitz, Summers (a retired US Army colonel and Los Angeles Times columnist) first enjoins strategists to remember the nation's trinitarian roots, which effectively bar Washington from employing the armed forces in any endeavor that lacks solid support from the electorate. Using America's muddled response to crises in Bosnia, Haiti, Somalia, and other venues as object lessons, he fixes bedrock principles for deploying troops on foreign fields. In the author's canon, the primary task of the military is to fight and win the country's wars, not to engage in feel-good humanitarian or peacekeeping missions that sap its readiness for combat. Military action should be taken, argues Summers, only if the country's vital national interests are directly threatened. With harsh words for the so- called defense intellectuals who would embroil the US military in counterinsurgency, nation-building, or other trendy enterprises, then, he offers a detailed briefing on what's right and wrong with the armed services in the context of the geopolitical conditions that could prevail over time. While insistent that America must maintain a credible nuclear deterrent and defenses against atomic attack abroad as well as at home, Summers pegs strong conventional forces as the key to forestalling substantive conflicts or, if need be, prevailing on the battlefield. He warns not only against overestimating the US military's capacity to deal with trouble in multiple remote regions but also about the unfortunate tendency to believe that advanced technology can replace young riflemen supported by aircraft, artillery, and tanks. An authoritative call to arms and a considerable contribution to the low-intensity debate now raging on national security and preparedness.