Monday, March 19, 2012

Vanguard of the Party?

The Chinese military is gaining influence as Communist Party leaders find they need their support in political battles:

It is not so much that China’s flag officers have been gaining control over civilians; the generals and admirals are winning the latitude to conduct their own affairs with only limited interference from civilians. In January of last year, then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke of the “disconnect” between China’s civilian and military leaders. As he suggested, the regime is dividing into constituent elements, which often carry out their own policies with little evident coordination.

What if the Chinese military decides that they can carry out their own policy--perhaps "solving" the Taiwan problem--and drag the Chinese Communist Party along with them after the fact or dare the CCP to stop the PLA in the middle of an invasion?

We keep saying that it makes no sense for China to risk a war with America over Taiwan's fate. But not only do we not understand what might make sense to China, we don't know who gets to make that decision.

And more broadly, when did we get the idea that matters of war and peace are decided with cool reflection of all factors and consequences?

UPDATE: This is a real problem:

[Often] sub-agencies [in China] like the equivalent of the Coast Guard take provocative steps on their own authority without clearing it with higher ups. When the incident — like a decision to send a ship into disputed waters — blows up into a public controversy, nationalist opinion inside China makes it hard for the government to back down.

Think this kind of foreign policy freelancing can't happen? Again?