(By Joe Koletar) The PLA (People’s Liberation Army) is a term used for the Chinese army, air force and navy. Collectively, it is the largest military force on earth, with capabilities ranging from a foot soldier to nuclear weapons. Soldiers are required to swear allegiance to it, rather than to the people or the country. It has been a major player in Chinese politics and also the Chinese economy. It “owns” scores, if not hundreds, of businesses and its dealings have been somewhat suspect over the years.
Xi Jinping, the new President, seems to be taking actions to deal with that, although in China nothing is always as it seems. Some speculate it is to eliminate political rivals, settle old scores, attempt genuine reform, or mold a more pleasing face of a nation-state for world consumption.
The article cited below reports that one target of this “reform” movement is General Xu Caihou. The article cites Chinese press reports (often suspect) that a raid on the General’s mansion required at least ten trucks to haul away the jade, gold and cash stored therein. Being a Chinese General is, evidently, a good thing, if you do not let ethics get in the way. (The article reports that fifteen other Generals are under investigation or awaiting trial: Hardly one or two “bad apples.”).
None of this is new, or peculiar to China. Tacticus, in his “Annals Of Imperial Rome,” noted many times that Emperors often took steps to curry favor with the Roman Legions, lest they be overthrown. The brilliance of the “Founding Fathers” in the United States was to recognize this all-too-human tendency and try to build in safeguards to prevent it. The Civil War cannot be cited as a failed attempt at military control. The Confederacy had no desire to control the Government of the United States. It wanted to break away and form its own government thus, technically, it was an “insurrection,” and not a “civil war.”
In current terms, we often see reports of well-intentioned disaster aid to poor countries being stolen by those in power, leaving the people to suffer. The rich get richer; the poor be damned. It can also extend to “major” countries, and one not need look too closely for current examples.
From the perspective of The A.B.C.’s of Behavioral Forensics (Wiley, 2013), this is a recurring theme in human events. The propensity of some to steal, made all the more onerous by doing so ostensibly in the name of a “good” cause.
We welcome your comments. Perhaps you have more concrete, recent, or even personal data. We might all benefit from sharing it.
“Rank And Vile: Xi Jinping Flexes His Muscle Against Army Corruption,” The Economist magazine, 2/14/15, page 39.
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