Spencer Ackerman, in an article laying out Rumsfeld's renewed focus on military transformation, writes:

But what the arrival of the new senior leadership at the Pentagon indicates is that the Pentagon's first-term focus on winning ideological and bureaucratic battles about control over foreign policy is largely over. This time around, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is turning his attention to the priority that brought him back to the Pentagon in 2001--military transformation--and the new team at DOD is designed to help him do it.

Or was it turned for him? Rumsfeld's catastrophic first term didn't result in dismissal, but it seems to have ended in a sort of castration. Even though he easily overtook Powell's State Department, it looks like the Pentagon's time as the primary force behind Bush's vision has ended, and Rice's State Department is now where the action's at.

That's reflected in the personnel changes in both departments. The 2004 staff shuffle has not only ripped some of Rumsfeld's most crucial incompetents (Feith, Wolfowitz) away from him, but State took on both Rice and Bush's long-time grand vizier, Karen Hughes, while dropping the ever distrusted Powell. That's certainly a net gain for the diplomats. And beyond that, the high profile statements and big moves have been coming, lately, from Rice, not Rumsfeld.

So maybe we should be glad that Rummy's turning back to his original mission of fiddling with the military. The Joint Chiefs are more than powerful enough to keep him from doing any serious damage, and the more time he spends trying to upend that bureaucracy, the less time the Bush administration spends planning for new overseas adventures. This is, after all, what we've long hoped for -- Bush's democracy promotion coming by diplomatic plane rather than paratrooper.

Clarification: I'm not actually against Rumsfeld's proposed military transformations. Some of them are quite necessary. At the same time, a fair number seem ill-suited for the job Bush seems to have foisted on us: that of nation-builders and peacekeepers. In any case, I assume some will succeed and the worst will fail, the point of the post is that Rumsfeld's attention is now inward, on the military, rather than outward, on unsuspecting nations.

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