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“It is shocking that it would be delegated to the secretary of commerce, whose job it is to promote trade, rather than to the secretary of state or the secretary of defense, who have far more knowledge and responsibility within their organizations for missile technology,” Mr. Milhollin said.

Mr. Milhollin said a similar delegation of power would have been criticized in previous administrations. “In fact, the delegation turns the present law upside down because Congress passed it after finding that the Commerce Department had improperly helped China import U.S. missile technology in the 1990s,” he said.

Edward Timperlake, a Pentagon technology-security official during the George W. Bush administration, said he agrees that the new policy likely will loosen export controls on dual-use technology that could be used to boost China’s large-scale missile program.

China’s military recently displayed new long-range and cruise missiles during a military parade in Beijing marking the 60th anniversary of communist rule.

“It looks like we’re going to have Loral-Hughes part two,” Mr. Timperlake said of the policy shift.

“The issue is that this will renew the pattern and practices of the Department of Commerce in the 1990s, when sensitive technology flowed under the rubric of space cooperation and, tragically, the Chinese ICBM force was fixed and modernized,” he said.

Mr. Timperlake said the new policy is “greenlighting engagement with China in very bad areas that will negatively impact United States’ national security.”

Petraeus: No

Debate over a new troop surge, this one in Afghanistan, is again throwing the political spotlight on Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, the Republican nominee in 1996, told Politico that he would like to see Army four-star Gen. David Petraeus - the head of the U.S. Central Command, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan — run for president as a latter-day Ike,” the news organization’s heavyweights, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, wrote last month.

Of course, Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th president, is the most famous general-politician. Most recently, Gen. Wesley K. Clark, a retired four-star Army general and former commander of NATO, ran unsuccessfully for the White House in 2004.

But Gen. Petraeus, who has undergone treatment for prostate cancer, denies that he has any political aspirations. He has no intention of changing his mind, a colleague told special correspondent Rowan Scarborough. The colleague asked not to be named because he was discussing private conversations.

The publicity recalls the first time the topic of Gen. Petraeus as a political candidate arose. As the Iraq troops surge proved successful in late 2007, pundits began floating his name.

“Gen. David Petraeus has a sterling reputation, the love of the press and the adoration of the GOP,” wrote the liberal American Prospect in January 2008. “Don’t be surprised if a Democratic presidential win in ‘08 starts an effort to recruit Petraeus as the Republican candidate in ‘12.”

The clatter became so incessant that year that Gen. Petraeus, then the top general in Iraq, convened a meeting of a few close advisers to find a way to put out the fire and end the distraction.

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