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SUPPLEMENT OR SUBVERT?
When certain conditions exist in a developing nation, the ROC political warfare model can be a valuable institution. Even when the conditions are appropriate, however, the ROC model must be modified before it is applicable to other nations. The ROC model, in the eyes of the Vietnamese, seemed to fit the
, cultural patterns, history, and character of the people more closely than the U.S. military solutions for insurgency. It seemed to counter the threat of covert rather than overt aggression better than U.S. doctrine and tactics.
The principal political consideration concerns the length of time an incumbent government has been in power. A good government which has been in power for a long period may have proved itself by satisfying the demands of the people, thereby gaining their support. In other words, legitimacy has been established. POLITICAL ATTITUDES
New governments, however, have not yet established legitimacy. They cannot assume that the people will grant automatically their wholehearted support. The government which has just gained power must rely on a political socialization process to teach the people their new role in society. It must create political attitudes which will support it until it has shown that it can satisfy the demands of the people better than the insurgents. It must devise some active means of creating supportive attitudes without the use of coercion since, in the long run, coercion would weaken the government.
The political warfare concept was the tool selected by the Chinese to accomplish this task in the aftermath of the 1911 Chinese Revolution. The Chinese abandoned the political warfare concept during World War II, however, because Western advisors believed it counterproductive.
When the Republic of China withdrew to Taiwan in 1949, it began an intensive review of the causes of its defeat. Many well-trained and wellequipped military units would have proved proficient, but there was a key weakness—loyalty. Outstanding units, trained by Western advisors, following Western military doctrine, were useless, or even dangerous, when they decided to change sides in the middle of the civil war. The Chinese recognized that internal strife generated unique military problems which did not exist in wars between nations. Thus, they concluded that a political warfare system was mandatory to promote governmental legitimacy and develop supportive political attitudes within the military forces. LOYALTY CONCEPT
Beyond the idea of creating support for the government, the concept of loyalty in Asia should also be considered. There is little tradition in Asia of loyalty to a nation or ideology. More important has been loyalty to an
individual or family. The leaders of China had the monumental task of transferring this loyalty from an individual or family to a nation or ideology. The political warfare system was a vehicle for this transfer.
China had no tradition of democracy with its emphasis on individual rights and dignity. Even under the political system as outlined by Sun Yat-sen in the “Three Peoples Principles," the individual was to be subordinated to the needs of the state. It was true that the people, the masses, came first in everything, political or economic, but the term people always referred to the people as a whole, a collective term, and not people as individuals. When this concept is combined with the authoritarian tradition, the concept of standing up for one's individual rights is lost. As a result, a type of passive submission to authority existed among the people, especially in the army.
If a company commander took advantage of his position to maltreat one of his soldiers or even the civilians in his area of jurisdiction, traditionally there was no recourse for the mistreated individual. The power of the commander was too great.
One possible influence on the commannder was his education. If he were well read and understood the humanitarian principles of Confucius, he might be a benevolent leader, and there would be fewer problems. The majority of commanders, however, were not so well educated.
Often, economic temptations were great. The pay of officers, as well as that of soldiers in China, has always been low in comparison with other elements of society. Fringe benefits found in Western armies were lacking. There was no one to look after the moral or economic welfare of the troops.
Consequently, the unit commander, who received only a nominal pay, certainly not enough to support a family, began to take advantage of his position for economic gain. If he were given money to buy food for his troops, he embezzled a portion of it. If he had the opportunity, he confiscated some of the produce of local civilians in the name of the army and the revolution. But the soldiers sent to confiscate the local rice saw an opportunity for themsleves. They confiscated more than the commander asked for and kept the difference for themselves. Corruption was even worse at the higher levels.
There was traditionally a deep-rooted enmity between civilians and soldiers in China. For centuries, the armies of China have maltreated, robbed, and abused the peasant. This is reflected in the old Chinese saying, “One does not use good steel to make nails nor does one use good men to make soldiers."
The political warfare concept was designed by Chinese leaders to close the gap between commanders and soldiers and between the military services and the civilian populace.
One important reason for the quick acceptance of the political warfare concept into China concerns basic family relationships. Traditionally, family authority and responsibility are vested in the eldest member. He is responsible for the livelihood and protection of the family members. In order to make this system function, strict rules govern individual behavior and discipline, and all members of the family are expected to comply with the wishes of the group leader, the oldest living relative.
As a result of this relationship, the individual derives a strong sense of security. He knows he can depend on his family to help him solve his personal problems, especially those with people outside the family group.
When an Asian youth is taken from the relative security of his family group, he experiences much more of a traumatic shock than his Western counterpart. He is completely lost when he finds that he must accept the full responsiblility for his own actions and has no one to provide him guidance and support. The political warfare concept provided a solution for this problem. When the concept is carried out as it is intended, the military unit replaces the family, the political warfare officer provides assistance in solving personal problems, and the commander represents parental and supreme authority.
The concept of the military commander and the political warfare cadre acting in loco parentis is communicated to soldiers by means of military magazines, radio, and television, usually in the form of fictional stories which dramatize the role of the unit political warfare officer.
The role of the unit political warfare officer goes beyond serving in loco parentis. He is responsible for personalizing relationships within a unit. His goal is to make the unit into the soldiers' new primary group—that is, a surrogate family. The assumption is that, if the military unit becomes a de facto primary group, favorable patterns of behavior can be stimulated more easily, and new values can be formulated. The Chinese recognized the political warfare system as a possible solution for remolding attitudes and forming new values which could transfer the loyalty of soldiers from their real family to their new military family and beyond that to the nation.
A second sociological reason for the ready acceptance of the political warfare concept is directly related to the first. Personal relationships at the lowest level are virtually codified. Custom dictates how one individual deals with another. There are acceptable and unacceptable actions which can be taken. When a conflict between two persons arises, the means of resolving it is especially limited by the "code" of conduct. Conflict cannot be solved by direct confrontation. The traditional Asian way to resolve conflict between two individuals has been to use a go-between.
The problem of direct confrontation is especially difficult in the military hierarchy where the commander of a unit must maintain a special image. As a result, if a soldier has a grievance which might reflect adversely on the capabilities of the unit commander, he must not seek redress because the commander cannot recognize the fact that something is wrong in his own unit. Consequently, the provision had to be made to resolve problems which were caused by the commander's actions.
It was necessary that no culpability be attributed to the commander who must be made to appear the champion of his troops, striving to protect them from grievances brought about by “the faults of the time.” The only means to achieve this, yet bring bona fide problems to the attention of the commander, was through a mediator. Political warfare officers serve this purpose-grievances can be aired before the commander without attacking his dignity.
These were some of the considerations which caused China and Vietnam to accept the political warfare concept. Even if we allow, however, that the political warfare concept is a useful tool for situations like Vietnam, there are still some qualifications which must be introduced if an undesired concentration of power is to be avoided. Political warfare doctrine should:
• Be taught as a model only where political and social conditions
are appropriate. • Come from the majority voice of a representative national
congress. • Include political, sociological, economic, psychological, and mil
itary principles which reflect national goals. • Be transmitted through command channels and be a command
responsiblity. • Prohibit direct connection between political warfare cadres and
political parties or special government organs. Political warfare cadres should have no special channels of communication to the
outside (party or higher level political warfare cadres). • Include the fact that the political warfare cadre's role is to
support the commander and not to watch over his activities. • State that political warfare cadres are subordinate to unit
commanders. Unit commanders must have courts-martial jurisdiction, influence on promotions and assignments, and generally unsubverted command authority over the political
warfare cadre. • Provide that the political warfare cadre should rotate in and out
of political warfare jobs. Political warfare should not become a
career specialty. • Emphasize the welfare, educational and recreational aspects of
Organizationally, counterintelligence should not be included as a political warfare function.
The Republic of Vietnam has studied the ROC model in detail, and has integrated some of the points mentioned. The South Vietnamese have taken from the Chinese model that which they believe is consistent with conditions in the Republic of Vietnam. They have rejected portions of the Chinese model which are not suited to Vietnamese national goals.
The Republic of China's political warfare model has much to offer nations struggling to achieve stability and independence. It is worthy of continued study to seek solutions to problems which are peculiar to emerging nations. Most important is to recognize the ROC model, not as a panacea, but as a partial solution to insurgency problems when those problems are caused by conditions similar to the Chinese experience.
CHINA IN AFRICA*
By G. T. Yu
The effect of persuasive communications is greater when the source is perceived by the
audience to be similar or in similar circumstances.
Chinese-African interaction represents an excellent example of China's international participatory role. Over a decade has elapsed since China first appeared on the African scene. During this period, Africa increasingly assumed an important place in Chinese foreign policy. An intensive drive to win friends and gain influence ensued. Although the campaign has suffered serious reversals, China's presence continues to be evident in Africa. In 1969 thirteen African States continued to recognize China, while Chinese influence among the African liberation movements was also dominant.
To date, the major thrust of China's interaction with Africa occurred during the years 1960 to 1965. Two dominant factors explain the wide level of Chinese activities. First, between January 1, 1960, and December 31, 1965, no fewer than twenty-nine African colonies won independence; consequently, these years represent also the peak of China's diplomatic offensive and other activities in Africa.
Secondly, with the increased level of the Sino-Soviet conflict beginning in the 1960s, China sought to openly challenge Soviet diplomatic influence and subvert Soviet revolutionary credibility internationally. Africa,
*Excerpts from "China in Africa,” The Yearbook of World Affairs, 1970, Stevens and Sons, London, 1970. Reprinted with the permission of Stevens and Sons, publishers, copyright holder.