Retiring Chinese general He Lei recently made news by suggesting that China’s greatest military weakness compared to the United States was that it has never fought a real war. He noted none of Beijing’s increasingly advanced weapons, jets, and ships have been tested in combat. Moreover, the large People’s Liberation Army continues to rely upon conscripts rather than the long-serving professionals in the U.S. military. He argued the Chinese military “will be ridden with doubts until they get into a real fight.”
The armies of the Islamic State running roughshod over government forces in Iraq and Syria. Russian little green men infiltrating eastern Ukraine following the military annexation of Crimea. Houthi rebels overthrowing the Yemeni government and seizing large swaths of the country. Taliban fighters seizing an Afghan provincial capital and carving out ever-larger strips of the countryside. Groups inspired by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State attacking government forces in the Sinai, Libya, West Africa and Pakistan.
AirSea Battle seems so yesterday.
Leaders lie “in the routine performance of their duties,” and “ethical and moral transgressions [occur] across all levels” of the organization. Leaders have also become “ethically numb,” using “justifications and rationalizations” to overcome any ethical doubts. This “tacit acceptance of dishonesty… [facilitates] hypocrisy” among leaders.
These quotations sound like they are ripped from the headlines about some major corporate scandal. But they’re not describing Enron before its collapse in 2001, or firms like Lehman Brothers and Countrywide before the 2008 financial crisis. Instead, they describe one of the country’s most respected institutions: the U.S. Army.