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What no one in the Pentagon ever predicted was that the Evil Empire would collapse so fast, and that the U.S. military would have no enemy large enough to justify its huge defense plans.

For the past six months a top-secret, high-ranking cabal of officers has been meeting at the Pentagon.Gen. Derdon is in charge. "Gentlemen, our budget is up for review, and unless we can prove that there is a national security threat, Congress will cut us off at the knees. Now think. Without the Soviet Union, which country does the U.S. fear the most?"

Adm. Larkin said, "I say Grenada. It still poses a threat in our hemisphere."

Col. Lolley, USMC, disagreed. "That's a little hard to sell. Why don't we ask the Senate Armed Services Committee if we can have another crack at Desert Storm - so we can get it right? We'll back it up with these photos of Saddam Hussein cutting the ribbon for a new nuclear bomb plant in a Baghdad square."

Gen. Derdon said, "That's not a bad idea. But the big bucks come from the weapon systems. If the Russian Commonwealth countries, or whatever they're called now, insist on breaking up their nukes, they'll never let us get Star Wars off the ground."

Gen. Bonaflighter of the U.S. Air Force had another suggestion, "Our satellites have been flying over Sierra Leone, and we don't like what we are seeing on our screens. They are in the process of either building a bomber strip or an elephant sanctuary. We need 50 Stealth bombers just in case."

Adm. Larkin said, "You won't get very far with that one. We asked for 14 attack submarines to keep an eye on Rio de Janeiro and we were turned down. Congress and even the president don't seem to be threatened with what is going on in the world right now."

"Someday there's going to be a war, and we're not even going to get invited," Gen. Derdon protested.

Col. Lolley said, "The worst part is that they want to cut the troops by 25 percent. The Pentagon will look like a tomb. Does anyone know Yeltsin well enough to have him threaten us?"

Adm. Larkin responded, "I met him at the White House and I called him a big fat Chicken Kiev, and he just laughed and threw his arms around me. He doesn't want a military buildup any more than our people do."

Gen. Bonaflighter asked, "Why don't we just bomb Canada?"

"We can, but it won't help us get our new MIRVs," Gen. Derdon told him.

Col. Lolley declared, "Nobody wants war, but no one wants peace either. There has to be something in between that will keep the military-industrial complex from losing its shirt."

Adm. Larkin said, "I don't know if this will raise any hackles on Capitol Hill, but our reconnaissance planes reported this morning that a fleet of ships is heading toward Pearl Harbor."

"Did it look like an attack?"

"I'm not sure. The flight decks were loaded with Hondas, Toyotas and Mitsu-bishis. Your guess is as good as mine."