In a classified blueprint intended to help "set the nation's direction for the next century," the Defense Department calls for concerted efforts to preserve American global military supremacy and to thwart the emergence of a rival superpower in Europe, Asia or the former Soviet Union.

The 46-page memorandum describes itself as "definitive guidance from the Secretary of Defense" for preparation of defense budgets for fiscal 1994 through 1999. It defies the predictions of some outside analysts that the Pentagon would relax resistance to further budget cuts after the turmoil of the election year.

Instead it mounts a detailed argument for maintaining the current "base force" of 1.6 million active-duty troops to the end of the decade and beyond.

Though noting that "the passing of the Cold War reduces pressure for U.S. military involvement in every potential regional or local conflict," the document argues not only for preserving but expanding the most demanding American commitments and for resisting efforts by key allies to provide their own security.

In particular, the document raises the prospects of "a unilateral U.S. defense guarantee" to Eastern Europe, "preferably in cooperation with other NATO states," and contemplates use of American military power to preempt or punish use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, "even in conflicts that otherwise do not directly engage U.S. interests."

The memo was drafted under supervision of Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary for policy. Although it is not supplied to Congress and was not intended for public release, the document represents a response at the highest levels of the Pentagon to a growing call in the American political debate for retrenchment from commitments abroad. First reported Sunday in the New York Times, it provides the rationale for U.S. involvement around the world as "a constant fixture" in an era of fundamental change.

The central strategy of the Pentagon framework is to "establish and protect a new order" that accounts "sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership," while at the same time maintaining a military dominance capable of "deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

"While the U.S. cannot become the world's 'policeman,' by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the preeminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations," the document states.

Much of the document parallels the extensive public statements of Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney and Gen. Colin L. Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Believing this year's defense debate is a pivotal moment in development of a post-Cold War security framework, the two men have given unusually detailed briefings to Congress of the rationale for the force they designed after collapse of the Warsaw Pact in late 1989.

Like their public statements, the classified memo emphasizes the virtues of collective action and the central U.S. interest in promoting increased respect for international law and "the spread of democratic forms of government and open economic systems."

Also like their public statements, the document describes a reorientation of U.S. defenses away from the threat of global war with the former Soviet Union and toward potential regional conflicts.

But the new memo gives central billing to U.S. efforts to prevent emergence of a rival superpower, a diplomatically sensitive subject that has not been prominent in public debate.

That objective, the document states, "is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union and Southwest Asia."

Distributed Feb. 18 to military service chiefs and secretaries, the commanders in chief of worldwide military theaters and other top Pentagon officials, the memorandum is a nearly final draft of this year's long overdue "Defense Planning Guidance," the defense secretary's cornerstone statement of policy and strategy.

Senior officials said the document has not been given final approval by Wolfowitz or Cheney.

But they acknowledged that both had played substantial roles in the document's creation and endorsed its principal views. "This is not the piano player in the whorehouse," one official said.

The policy plan restates support for a set of seven classified scenarios prepared by the Pentagon describing hypothetical roads to war by the end of the century. Those scenarios, reported late last month by the New York Times and Washington Post, included an American-led defense of Lithuania and Poland from invasion by Russia, wars against Iraq and North Korea to repel attacks on their southern neighbors and smaller-scale interventions in Panama and the Philippines.

The scenarios came under congressional attack by political figures in both parties, and senior defense officials then suggested that they might be revised or abandoned.

Air Force Secretary Donald B. Rice, for example, said in an interview that the scenario set "was a staff product. It was just about to be circulated for higher level review, and it could have benefited from that review."

The new document, by contrast, directs military services and defense agencies to measure their purchasing and training decisions against the requirements of the war scenarios.

The services are told, for example, to buy enough "threat-oriented munitions" -- such as missiles, bombs and artillery shells -- to provide 80 percent confidence that they would destroy 80 percent of the expected targets "in the two most demanding Major Regional Conflict scenarios."

Among Democrats on Capitol Hill, the policy memorandum has already come under bitter attack. Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), an advocate of deep cuts in defense spending to pay for domestic needs, called the Pentagon strategy "myopic, shallow and disappointing."

"The basic thrust of the document seems to be this: We love being the sole remaining superpower in the world and we want so much to remain that way that we are willing to put at risk the basic health of our economy and well-being of our people to do so," he said.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), attacking what he said was the document's emphasis on unilateral action, ridiculed it as "literally a Pax Americana. . . . It won't work. You can be the world superpower and still be unable to maintain peace throughout the world."

Senior Pentagon officials angrily disputed the charge, first made in Sunday's New York Times, that the new strategy was "the clearest rejection to date of collective internationalism."

They cited the document's pledge, on its first page, to "continue to support and protect those bilateral, multilateral, international or regionally based institutions, processes and relationships which afford us opportunities to share responsibility for global and regional security."

"What is just dead wrong is this notion of a sole superpower dominating the rest of the world," a ranking defense official said. "The main thrust of what the secretary has to say and what that draft also says is that the key to maintaining the rather benign environment we have today is sustaining the democratic alliances we've shaped over 40 years."

Harold Brown, a former defense secretary, agreed in an interview yesterday that there is no contradiction between collective security and desirability of maintaining the United States as the world's strongest military power.

"Take the Persian Gulf situation," he said. "That was clearly a collective security arrangement but it clearly wouldn't have happened if the U.S. hadn't taken the lion's share, by which I mean almost all, of the military burden. That is a demonstration of how you can have both at the same time."

Academic criticism of the new strategy centered, by contrast, on its treatment of Russia. Michael Mandelbaum, a foreign policy analyst at Johns Hopkins University, argued that the logic of preventing reemergence of a hostile superpower suggests "far greater involvement in the economy and democratization of the Russians and the Ukrainians."

But in the current political debate, he said, "giving them money seems to be a taboo word."

Cheney has spoken in glowing terms of potential U.S.-Russian friendship "if democracy matures," even suggesting the possibility of combined military action against regional aggressors.

But he has also expressed skepticism that the United States or Western Europe possesses any great influence over Russia's internal development.

The new strategy describes a delicate balance between supporting the former Soviet republics "in their efforts to become peaceful democracies with market based economies" and the need to "hedge against the possibility that democracy will fail."

"Our strategic challenge," the memo states, "is to construct the security hedges against democratic failure in such a way that we do not . . . increase the likelihood of a democratic failure."

In that context, Brown and others also criticized the document's suggestion that the United States or NATO might extend security guarantees to Eastern Europe, describing it as provocative of Russian nationalism and ignoring "the same grave danger of nuclear war" that prevented Western intervention there for 45 years.

Staff writer John Lancaster contributed to this report.