Friday, November 11, 2016

Professor Saddam Schools the Chinese

Did China value the lessons of Saddam in the 1991 Persian Gulf War more than they valued the lessons from American military operations?

Yes, China's military reorganization and weapons procurement has been changed based on learning from American experience in the Persian Gulf War.

But the lesson of making sure the leaders who command that military of more effective troops (from better organization, training, and expensive equipment) fell apart when China's communist party leadership discovered that competence was no guarantee of loyalty to the party:

China did try adding more officers selected for skills rather than loyalty but since 2010 have shifted back to the “loyalty first” model. This was necessary because of problems eliminating the corruption in the military and the realization that the military would more likely be needed to deal with an internal threat rather than an external one. It is easier to fake combat competence with new uniforms and weapons than to assure political loyalty when it is needed the most. The Chinese discovered that they had more in common with Iraq than their analysis revealed. The dictatorship that had run Iraq since the late 1950s learned to put a priority on loyalty when recruiting officers and avoid fighting an external foe.

That's a good sign. China's civilian leaders--if they indeed are the last word in deciding war or peace issues--must clearly view internal security as a higher priority than capabilities to fight battles.

Although given China's views on foreign versus domestic policies that lack the clear break in Western thinking, a foreign war that China would lose might still be an option for an "internal" problem if that war distracts the people from their anger at the ruling communist elites.

Although if the Chinese leaders don't expect their military to really be able to defeat foreign foes of any size, the Chinese may follow the example of the Russians, North Koreans, and Iranians, who clearly see nuclear weapons and not conventional forces as the real weapon to deter invasion or serious losses in a war.

If China's nuclear arsenal grows significantly, that would possibly (because it is always possible that China will build more nukes because they can afford to build more nukes, regardless of survival strategy) ratify that theory.