BEYOND IRAQ. A nice piece by Matthew Stannard in the San Francisco Chronicle lets panda-hugger Thomas Barnett raise a point hitherto overlooked in excitement at Rumsfeld's departure: his leaving heralds a positive change of direction on China policy. Says Barnett:

"The fixation on China, which was strong with this administration when it came in and certainly remained strong with the China hawks under Rumsfeld and with Rumsfeld himself became the excuse for over-feeding the war force and starving the occupation force," he said. "The Air Force and the Navy probably get happier than they need to be ... and the Army and the Marines are left hanging."

Shifting Pentagon thinking to a more realistic view of China -- as a potential opportunity rather than a strategic threat -- is closely related to the idea of reducing the Bush emphasis on the military as a tool of U.S. foreign policy. A lot of defense contractors with a vested interest in the outdated China-as-enemy approach might be unhappy, but the American people will be much better off as a result. Dumping Rumsfeld in favor of the more pragmatic Gates is a good start.

--Blake Hounshell

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