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Balancing Law and Defence

15 April, 2008

By A. Siddique


Reading the foreign press one saw with sorrow images of lawyers beating policemen, jumping on police pickups and vandalizing not just public property but property of the Law Enforcement Agencies. Is it just and righteous to vandalize like commoners property paid for by public tax monies? In the language of the law does it set a good precedent?  

Once an act is committed it sets an example which may haunt the children of the actors for a long time. Good deeds are a source of joy and correction for the future generations and bad deeds become a source of corruption.

Speaking of precedent there have been examples of “good rioting”. For instance there is the case of rioting in ancient Greece where the people were tired of the tyrant Pisistratus and overthrew him to establish “the people’s rule”. It would be interesting to learn how Pisistratus came to rule Athens: Pisistratus approached the Athenians bruised and bleeding and blaming his adversaries he asked the people of Athens to provide him with armed bodyguards. The Athenians pitying him granted him his request. But with the very same bodyguards Pisistratus eliminated his enemies and established a dictatorship over Athens. That is when the people revolted and overthrew him. That is an example of a people who preferred rioting by sacrificing law and order in favor of freedom and democracy.

In fact there is evidence that at least once in Islamic history rioters may have been over indulged. This is according to the example of Usman (RA) who sacrificed his life but abstained from harming the rebels and rioters who took his life. When the Kharijites revolted against Usman he refused to take military action against them. He said, “I refuse to spill Muslim blood to save my own neck”. The Kharijites grew bolder, first besieging Medina, then Usman’s home, then they eventually invaded the

caliph’s home and made a martyr of Usman. Unlike the Kharijites Sunni Muslims tend to reject rebellion or “fitna and fasad”. They may be quite content under authoritarian rule: even if it’s mildly unjust. Like Usman Sunni Muslims prefer stability over shedding Muslim blood: even if the stability is thanks to a tyrant.

Unlike Usman and the Sunnis the people of ancient Rome were not in the habit of suffering silently. In ancient Rome even the Senators who were writers of the law are often recorded as guilty of flying into murderous rage and even participating in pre meditated murder. Today one sees remnants of such rage in developing democracies like Taiwan and South Korea where there are often have fist fights in parliament. These events are broadcast to the entire world. Some view it and laugh

while others can see a story: it is a story of the development of man from the time when such violence by the keepers of the law was common and even the educated refused to come to grips with their passions and sentiments. There was a time when the Roman senator would commit murder out of frustration but today even the wrong words or a raised voice is avoided. Sentiment and passion has given way to moderation and reason.

But not yet in Pakistan for it happened in our developing democracy that some doctors of the Law thought, “Perhaps we need to break some laws in order to uphold other laws; perhaps we should riot for freedom and democracy and justice”. All saw this discord boil between the armed forces and the lawyers. The differences between the two however are an outcome of their professions and could have been exploited in any country and in any age.

In fact ancient Rome was brought down by such a clash between the law making senators and the Praetorian Guards. The Generals who led the armies of Rome are often depicted as in conflict with the likes of these Senators. For example Caesar the General was often at odds with the law making members of the Senate like Cicero. Some of the senators eventually ganged up on Caesar and assassinated him. For this crime they suffered banishment. 

But it seems that there are just as many incidents of persecution of lawyers at the hands of tyrants. The most notable being Tarquin the Proud who executed more than a third of the senate. Cicero was murdered while attempting to escape the assassins sent by Antony with whom he is supposed to have pleaded “there is nothing proper in what you are doing soldier, but do try to kill me properly”.

Such conflicts occur today in non violent forms: as in Bill Clinton a “lawyer President” who was often in conflict with the military brass. In contrast President Bush, the conservative aviator and son of another pilot, fits in well with the military but is often opposed to positions adopted by lawyers like Kennedy, Pelosi and the Clintons.

Following are some of the differences between the two professionals:

Soldier

Lawyer

Encourages conformity within unit

Defends individual rights within society.

Is obedient to authority.

Challenges and checks abuse of power

Accustomed to hierarchical organization.

Argues for equality for all men.

Rough clothing during warfare.

 Suits.

Vigilant about weight and health.

Overeating will not lead to being disbarred.

Enjoys sheltered life if untested in war.

Suffers exposure to the crimes of civilian life.

Highly capable of defense of country.

Lacks training in use of arms.

Higher Education not required

Higher education required.

The soldier tends to view the civilians with disdain as undisciplined, unruly and even weak folk. The civilians may view the soldiers as rigid, robotic, violent brutes. The Lawyer is perhaps the epitome of civilian life and spends his life attempting to justify the ways of men. The soldier on the other hand lives a sheltered and controlled life. Meanwhile the lawyer in dealing with the gray areas of life can lose his faith and may end up rationalizing evil and viewing things relatively. Cynicism, miscuity, profligacy, aberrant behavior are the expected outcome of an intellectual profession such as the law. As opposed to the complex attitudes of a lawyer the soldier in contrast is acutely aware of life and death, victory and defeat and tends to be more absolute thereby viewing life in black and white. Patriotism, religiosity, frugality, Puritanism and simplicity are the predictable outcome of such a physical profession.

How is it possible for a lawyer schooled in ethics to break those very ethics? How does a man burning with righteous rage against injustice become so immoral? How is it possible that a soldier who lacks a doctorate can appear more upright and trustworthy? Perhaps virtue comes with practice. Perhaps the soldier may not be aware of all moral complexities but the few he does know he drills. He conditions himself and trains himself continually in the basics like loyalty, unity, discipline, patience, obedience and coolness under pressure.A lawyer on the other hand may learn all morality but may neglect to drill or inculcate such virtues within. The courtroom may serve to disillusion a lawyer and may not convince him that all virtues ought to be practiced as often as a soldier marches.

Despite these differences both lawyers and soldiers are important because they both believe in a certain code of conduct and they believe in Islam. Both the professions love our country in different ways.

Because the two sides conflict in many ways we can moderate them by encouraging one side to see things from the eyes of other side. We can moderate by giving the lawyers the training and discipline of soldiers and by requiring the soldiers who wish to enter the public sector to earn degrees in law. 

It is with this in mind that one of the founders (John Adams) of the United States said the following: I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

One may wonder: isn’t it asking too much to require training in both law and the military sciences? Is this not rather unfocused? Is this not against Max Weber’s ideal of finding a calling and sticking to it? The problem is that neither side in Pakistan is content with following their calling. The lawyers are chafing against the boundaries set by their own profession (or any profession) and the Generals are more interested in governance and legislation than in the study and improvement of warfare.

If the lawyer wishes to take on a policeman and an enforcer of the law and if the soldier wishes to become a legislator then perhaps an exchange of training is called for. But is such an exchange feasible? Barring Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea and other 30 or so countries where military service is mandatory it is not unusual to have training in the military and another profession. The majority of men in the US Congress and the Senate have experience and training in both the military and the law. Most of the Presidents of the US come with military backgrounds. In fact it is not unheard of for career soldiers to leave the armed forces and start a successful law firm (Bill Gates’ father), a movie studio (Aaron Spelling) or a business (Alexander Hamilton). Our Prophet Muhammad SAW was a successful businessman before he fought as a soldier for righteousness and then he gave us laws passed down from Musa (RA). Another case is that of Solon a Prophet sent to the Greeks. He was first a business man, then he earned fame as a soldier and finally as law giver and the first archon of Greece.

Although higher education is the need of the hour military training for all can help spread basic literacy and moderate the highly educated. In western societies like Britain military training has been used as a means of reforming the unruly. Children who have little regard for authority are often threatened with induction into the armed forces. In the US Elvis

Presley was forcefully inducted into the armed forces due to his sexually suggestive “rock and roll” which defied moral authority and threatened civil unrest. Muhammad Ali was pressured to ship to Vietnam due to his involvement in the unrest surrounding the civil rights movement.

Although such military training can discipline those who rock the boat of civilian life, military science is in and of itself not the end of an education but perhaps the necessary foundation of a virtuous life. And because military training ought to be the bedrock of every citizen’s education those who choose the art of warfare as a profession must be “moderated” by being taught a useful profession. Our soldiers must be instructed in everything beyond learning the science of “the most efficient way of killing the invading forces”. The soldiers ought to be taught advanced business concepts, PHD level engineering and sciences. Then they ought to be assisted in establishment of an independent source of income. They should have a revenue stream that is independent of the labor of other men: a business model which does not rely on taxes of the public. This is a good way of ensuring that our soldiers do not become lifelong consumers of the people’s taxes. It is also a good way of ensuring that our traders and business folk and all our professions are composed of the most patriotic, the most competitive (because war is the most competitive of venues) and consequently the most productive.

When two opposites clash they can be destructive but if we can harness their energies, the two sides can result in a mutually constructive or synergistic combination. Such are the conflicting professions of law and the military which tend to moderate each other and are the most ancient of professions necessary for the improvement of our country. 

End.

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