China: October 10, 2002


Most Chinese, viewing a possible war between America and Iraq, tend to hope that Iraq will win. The average Chinese recognize that their armed forces are closer in capability to Iraq than to the United States. Most Chinese are all too aware of how the armed forces are run. The "People's Liberation Army" (PLA) has long been noted mostly for liberating money from the defense budget in order to make officers rich. The PLA has always had a large political component, but this has only grown since the political upheavals of the 1960s (when the Communist Party staged a revolution against itself.) The communists who came out on top after the "Cultural Revolution" of the 1960s knew that their survival was the work of loyal army officers. Thus officers have long been selected, and promoted, more for their political loyalty than for their military skills. This is very similar to what goes on in Iraq. China, like Iraq, has a few very modern weapons, and a lot of older stuff. America's 1991 defeat of Iraq was very demoralizing for Chinese military leaders, and they don't expect a 2002 rematch to come out much different. But on the street, there are several point spreads being offered in what many Chinese see as a very sporting proposition. Shoot down a few American aircraft, destroy one or two of those M-1 tanks (none were destroyed in 1991) and you have a victory of sorts. But not the kind of victory that will not win a war, and that's what bothers Chinese generals.  



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