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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Of War And Politics

Of War And Politics

Shortly after the Perak affair commenced, I was at an open house function and met a man of influence. In the course of our conversation, he informed me that he had graduated from the Royal Military College. Not surprisingly, the situation in Perak came up. We spoke about the disappearance, and subsequent reappearance, of the three controversial former opposition members and the move to take over the state government by the Barisan Nasional and the Sultan’s refusal to dissolve the Legislative Assembly and soon found ourselves pondering the ethical dimension of what had transpired. At one point, perhaps because of his background, he said. “Politics is like war, all’s fair. We must expect it to get bloody.”

I understood what he meant.

It could be said that political campaigns have to be strategized like military campaigns. There has to be an objective, thought must be given to the resources available for deployment and tactics planned with a view to achieving that objective using those resources. In this, one can expect bloodshed as such is the nature of war. Losses are anticipated, even acceptable, as a factor that informs the overall strategy.

The analogy is however only apt at a superficial level. When causes and methods are considered more closely, it is obvious that they are vastly different.

Wars must only be waged for lawful cause and in a lawful manner. The United Nations Charter limits such cause to self-defence though there is an argument to be made that customary international law has expanded the scope of justifiable conflict to include humanitarian intervention such as was seen in the Balkan conflict. Further, the Geneva Conventions and other treaties put in place the rules by which wars are to be fought by reference to what is permissible and what is not. Such wars are that are fought for legitimate cause in a permissible manner are just wars, and for that are events of honour. Those who fight them are honourable.

Politics is however by its nature far from honourable. In this we must understand that a distinction has to be drawn between a cause for which politics is enlisted and politics itself for there may be noble causes in whose aid politics is enlisted.

Political campaigns are not aimed at self-defence, their twin objectives being self-promotion and the disabling of a political opponent with a view to furthering self-interest. This opponent is not necessarily someone from another organization, as political causes involve fighting friends as much as it does enemies. Loyalty and honour have very little to do with anything; they could in some situations even be obstacles to the political process. This has been more so in recent times; those politicians who have stuck to principle and been content to let action speak louder than words have suffered politically for the fact.

Where political hegemony is involved, the difference is even starker. This allows for control of the “system” and the hijacking of governance. In having such control, political objectives do not have to be achieved for lawful purpose or in a lawful manner and the ends will always justify the means.

For all of this and more, politics is not like war. To draw the comparison is to do an injustice to, even insult, those brave men and women in the Malaysian armed forces. They are patriots who, unseen, keep this nation and our way of life safe.

In contrast, save for small minority, our politicians worship at the altar of personal ambition and routinely sacrifice principle for gain. Were it otherwise and politicians understood that being elected to office was a way in which they could truly serve this nation things would be very different. For a start, the Internal Security Act and a host of anti-democratic laws would no longer be on the books, institutions that we have every right to expect to act without fear or favour would be left alone to act as they should, and we would be hopeful for our interests being looked after as they should.

Democracy was never meant to be a ladder for ambitious politicians. Its elections were aimed at ensuring that the rakyat were able to vote to office capable representatives who understood them best and who would do what was necessary to protect their interests and those of the nation. These elected representatives were intended to be the voices of reason that would help shape this nation and point it in the right direction for its journey into our collective future.

Encouraged by a lack of accountability, in the hands of our politicians democracy has become a spectator sport, a winner-take-all gladiatorial blood-fest in which the rules themselves have become weapons in the hands of oppressors who prey on the weak and vulnerable.

In the political feeding frenzy that has taken centre stage, it is the person on the street who suffers the most. Though we tend to blame this on the politicians, we overlook that politicians have been able to get away with what they do for one reason: at some point we stopped caring that our politics lacked ethical foundation. We were satisfied as long as we had opportunity to enlist politics for our individual benefit. Those who did not were dismissed in our minds as acceptable collateral damage.

In doing so, we became a part of the problem.

Politics like war? It would be more in our interests if that were so as limits would be respected and actions circumscribed by honour. However, until we take ourselves out of the equation and look to the nation’s interests, that will never be the case.

(Malay Mail; 10th March 2009)



Anonymous said...

Interesting argument. It is still arguable if they are different. The difference I believe, lies in the level of civilization of our society; Our values.

How much do we as a society and individuals value honour and principle? How much social pressure from each and every individual on the transgressing individual who do no conform to our socially accepted behaviour?

Japan had its code of Bushido. England and parts of Europe, the chivalrous code of the Knights. Malaysia - what do we have?

If we want a civilized society, we have to start now. We are a young country and we have lost 51 years to questionable narrow minded nation-building policies.

As many naturalised British, irish, and other foreigners have lamented : "Where did Malaysia go so wrong? Why has it allowed it spiritual values scarificed at the alter of political expediency and material gains?"

Therefore, whether in war or politics, how it is conducted, the answer lies in our humanity and civilized behaviour.

The Perak episode has thrown up the true colour and uglier side of our ruling politicians. It has posed a, true, "cross-road", question : Where do we go from here? Downhill to further low level uncivilized behaviour and unravelling therefore of our society to date? Or we walk the narrow and difficult road to a more civilized society. Which, does UMNO-BN, and which, does Pakatan Rakyat, offers?

If we want to look straight into mirror image the next time we pause before it, then think very carefully before you cast your next vote. For the society is us, and the society we deserve is who we choose to lead us.

Cruzeiro said...

Yes what you say is true - Politics is war.
However, everything in life itself is like war - there is an honourable and there is a dishnourable way to go about with it.

These things in life & war are shaped & ruled by things that are defined by your philosophy, morality and ethics. One derives either chaos or order, based on the choices one makes in going about waging this "war".

These choices will be made by individuals and "herds" based on their level of thought, which in turn is determined by real education, as opposed to indoctrination.

That we have a public who disregard the morality of conduct and decisions made by "leaders" (unless it is due to sex, money, race & religion), is simply becos our masses are only "indoctrinated" and are incapable of rational thought, so as to see reason.
This phenomenon is non other than the harbinger of chaos, and a failed state.

All is not fair in love & war. That is simply a cliche.
Reality states that there are rules and codes of conduct, which are what all religions aim to inculcate through spirituality.

There is this thing called "honour" as you say - and this honour it determined by morality and ethics. It is what determines civilisation.

No MIS - all isn't fair in Politics. It is what the unethical politician will say to the detriment of the people.
They will use the media in more civilised nations, while they'll use repressive laws, police brutality the bullet or sword in a people enslaved by their primal instincts (as in failed states).

In Malaysia, we know exactly where we have been heading since the time of Mahathir.
Sadly, a vast majority, are ignorant of these facts despite their "education", and allow themselves to be led by their nose rings like buffaloes.

These ignorant masses are ruled by their greed, desires and passions as a result of Mahathirism- and they'll surrender anything, so that they can live a consumerist life of "luxury" despite their misery.
There is no such thing as conscience or social consciousness. To them, these things are almost laughable as real "needs".

Without the universal "values of righteousness and morality", all Malaysians have is "faith/religion devoid of spirituality", which is corrupted & ruled by their wants/desires.

The good book says that those who “plant seeds of desire shall reap corruption & death.”.
That is what we will see, if Malaysia doesn't turn around.

Anonymous said...

We the RENEW,RESURRECTED, RIGHT THINKING & UPRISING RAKYAT will surely won the War without any bloodshed by casting our Vote of Confidence to an Alternative Government who will "Uphold our Fundamental Rights" and to defeat the tyrant and corruptive BN-government.

Come next GE 13 in 2013,just imagine the "Ballot Box is the C4" that we RAKYAT have and use it to explode the tyrant and oppressive ruling government.

Remember this,"for every action there is an opposite reaction".

We have lost so much what we should have in 51 years to the tyrant and we don't mind give them another 4 years to redeem our fundamental right and liberty !

flyer168 said...

Dear Malik,

You have spelt it very well...loud & clear....

-Malaysia badly needs "Role Model" established Leaders & Politicians of HONOUR with Calibre, Maturity & Tolerance without Fear or Favour & NOT Political OPPORTUNISTS – on BOTH sides of the Political Divide.

Further this nation Desperately needs Intelligent, Time Proven Pragmatic Successful modelled, Financial & Politiical "SOLUTIONS" NOW on BOTH sides of the Political Divide, to MITIGATE the IMPENDING Political & Financial fallout.

The 8th March 2008 elections offered us an "Alternative" to the UMNO/BN Autocratic Government.

In 2009, We are ALL Anak Bangsa Malaysia led by our "RPK, Haris & all the Defenders of Truth" to restore "Justice, Equality, Human Rights & Freedom" with our struggles to achieve our 2nd Independence....

Not from the British Administration, BUT from our own Autocratic Ketuanan UMNO Baru, MCA & MIC) regime.

This great nation, its assets & its Anak Bangsa Malaysia have been abused for the last 40 years by these "Moronic Idiots & their Goons" through "Gutter Politics" & the "Law of the Jungle".

Can they CONFIRM Honestly or by UMNO Hadhari's swearing To God Almighty....

- That UMNO/BN & its Leaders since 13 May 1969 have NOT committed ANY of the following :

10 Sins Against Humanity & Anak Bangsa Malaysia

Politics without Principles....
Religion without Compassion....
Power without Accountability....
Rights without Responsibility....
Business without Morality....
Development without Sustainability....
Knowledge without Character....
Science without Humanity....
Wealth without Work....
Enjoyment without Conscience...

At the end of the day, the UMNO/BN Leaders are having their "Orbs Squeezed" by their "CORPORATE & BUSINESS CROONIES" who are the "NEW MASTERS" of UMNO/BN.

Whilst the MATURED & INTELLIGENT G20 Presidents, PMs, FMs, Governments are strategising & synergising their positions on the GLOBAL FINANCIAL "CHESS Board"....

There is still no "Intelligent Structured Contingency plan nor Quantums" in place in this Bolehland...

The UMNO/BN Leaders are still in “Euphoria & Denial” even at this 11th hour of our nation’s "Double Whammy, Political & Financial Tsunami” at our doorsteps....

- Our Jaguh Kampung still playing with "MARBLES" when the World's G20 Leaders are are strategising & synergising their positions on the GLOBAL FINANCIAL "CHESS Board"....

- PRESENTLY our UMNO/BN Leaders "DO NOT EVEN Cross Talk" amongst themselves....

- Just HOW can they change their PARADIGM to ASK, LISTEN, ACKNOWLEDGE, REPENT, LEARN from the best Brains & Best Practices & Best TIME Proven SUCCESSFUL SOLUTION models....

- With the HUGE Resources OUTSIDE of their "Solution" Bankrupt Jaguh Kampung within UMNO/BN....

- From our neighbour Singapore & the World G20 Leaders who are Intelligently Brainstorming, Strategising & Synergising their positions on the GLOBAL FINANCIAL "CHESS Board"....

- We all need to SHIFT our “Ketuanan/Racial/Religious, Opportunist/Personal/Selfish, Etc Paradigm” and start thinking about “OUR GREAT NATION MALAYSIA for ANAK BANGSA MALAYSIA” as with the original “VALUES” of our Bapa Merdeka Tunku together together with his 1st cabinet of TRUE Malaysian TUANS adopted - From TOP to BOTTOM.

Let us ALL Pray to God Almighty in our own way & faith for “SANITY, Human Rights, Justice, Equality, Freedom & Peace to “Prevail” over “EVIL”

Anonymous said...

There is war and then there is war. In the past, when countries go to war, they had to declare it. These days country don't declare war anymore.

So even war is no longer honorable, its a diry word in fact in an age of over-politicking and self-righteousness.

So if politics is war then its also a dishonorable and dirty word. By somehow, we have not yet come to condemning it like we are so quick to condemn war...

Unknown said...

It is very easy to find mistakes, especially if it is done by others.

It is even easier to win arguments, especially by loudly belittling and insulting our opponents.

For some, it is very enchanting when they talk great things about themselves. It sounds perfect, ideal and fulfilling when they associate the best of attributes with their cause.


It is best if PR takes one step back and restructures their long term vision.

PKR, DAP and PAS cannot continue to share a platform without having a COMMON CONCERTED VISION for a better Malaysia.

PROUDLY TELLING PEOPLE HOW GOOD WE HAVE GOVERNED is not the same with the Rakyat uttering the same praises.

It is very easy to build hatreds towards the SINNERS IN BARISAN NASIONAL – a ‘no brainer’ thing.


We should learn from the failure of PAS with their ‘JUST TALK ONLY ISLAMIC NATION’ minus the critical concrete plan how to actually execute it, or DAP’s ‘BANGSA MALAYSIA’ that look and sounds too Chinese for the Malay majority.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY; It is DEFINITELY GREAT if we care to realize that even with all strong accusations, mistakes and shortcomings, LOUDLY SHOUTED BY US, BN ACTUALLY DID WON MARCH 08 GE, and WE DID NOT.

We are JUST BEING LOUDER; until today.

Unknown said...

Dalam beberapa hari yang lalu, beberapa perkembangan politik yang dicanangkan mendapat reaksi yang amat berbeza.

Presiden PAS mencadangkan penubuhan sebuah Kerajaan Perpaduan untuk menghentikan perbalahan politik yang sedang mekar kini.

PELIKNYA tiada siapa pun daripada PR yang lantang menentang cadangan ini walaupun ianya secara realiti akan merampas ‘hak’ Barisan Nasional daripada memerintah berdasarkan SUARA DAN AMANAH RAKYAT yang diterima mereka melalui PRU 12 – 08

MENARIKNYA pelbagai pakar undang-undang, samada bertauliah atau tidak, menperjelaskan betapa DYMM Yang Dipertuan Agong boleh dan berhak menolak perlantikan Najib dan melantik seorang Ahli Parlimen yang lain

SOALNYA disini bukan berkenaan undang-undang tetapi MEMBUKTIKAN SECARA JELAS betapa perjuangan moral kita berubah-ubah mengikut nafsu kita.


BILA ANWAR merancang rampasan kuasa melalui lompatan parti, kita melaungkan itu hak dan indahnya demokrasi

SEBELUM TIBANYA PRK KT kita meraung dan menangis hiba betapa demokrasi hilang kerana angkara sundal SPR, BN dan POLIS

BILA MENANG PRK KT kita secara bangga memberi penghargaan kepada SPR dan POLIS atas betapa professionalnya mereka itu

BILA BOTA melompat ke seberang sini, NIZAR TERSENYUM BONGKAK & SUMBING mengatakan betapa demokrasi sebenar sedang harum mewangi

BILA DAP + 2PKR + BOTA melompat ke sana tiba-tiba mereka di label anjing kurap yang hina dan memalukan bangsa

BILA SULTAN PERAK enggan membubarkan dewan dan melantik Zambry sebagai MB kita berguling ditengah jalan bagai sudah hilang maruah, akal, iman dan pedoman

BILA SULTAN PERAK ‘mengira’ majoriti di Istana Kinta, kita berhujah itu hanya boleh dilaksanakan di dewan yang mulia

BILA SIVAKUMAR melangsung mesyuarat di bawah pokok kita tugukan pokok itu sebagai lambang demokrasi negara

BILA SIVAKUMAR menggantung Zambry dan 6 exconya atas alasan menghina dewan kerana menerima perlantikan Sultan selagi lagi demokrasi digunakan secara tulus


Bila idea Kerajaan Perpaduan semacam menampakkan kelebihan kepada cita dan nafsu kita;



Apa bezanya Pemimpin & Penasihat Barisan Nasional yang kita cerca dan hina dengan Pemimpin & Penasihat PR yang kita puja dan bangga.

Soalannya; MENGAPAKAH gerakan dan tindakan berlandaskan MATLAMAT MENGHALALKAN CARA yang kita cerca dan hina secara penuh bermaruah dan kesedaran (kononnya) bila ia dilakukan oleh BN, menjadi indah dan ideal bila kita pula yang menikmati habuannya.

sjankan said...

Politic is an act to govern people. Tanggapan politik itu perang atau pertempuran adalah tidak berasas sekali. Mungkin ahli politik itu terpaksa atur starategiknya untuk memastikan manifesto perjuangannya disampaikan kepada rakyat dan pada masa yang sama terpaksa mengharungi musuh-musuh politiknya yang mempunyai prinsip perjuangan yang berlainan.
Itu adalah pandangan saya tentang politik kepada ahli politik atau antara ahli politik.

Apa pula maksud politik kepada orang kebanyakan atau rakyat biasa? adakah politik itu sama dengan kerajaan?

Saya berpendapat politik adalah proses pembentukan kerajaan dan masing-masing tak kira kerajaan atau pembangkang agenda akhirnya ialah untuk kebajikan rakyat, kemakmuran dan pembangunan rakayat dan paling penting kerajaan tersebut dapat mempertahankan negara agar warga negara tersebut rasa selamat.

Tapi adakah perkara itu yang sedang berlaku sekarang? Satu contoh yang jelas , ada kerajaan atau ahli politik membelakangkan rakyat dan keselematan negara dan mengutamakan assabiyah parti politiknya, yang lebih memalukan dimana prinsip mereka? Parti poltik boleh lahir dan terkubur dan Negara yang akan kekal. Sekiranya ada pemimpin yang tahu ada benarnya atau salahnya anggota dalam parti mereka , sepatutnya mereka tegur agar tidak akan wujud seseorang pemimpin yang angkuh atau berpandangan dia boleh melakukan apa sahaja sekiranya sudah berada di singahsana.

Kematangan politik di Malaysia berada pada tahap yang amat mendukacitakan dan perubahan ini mungkin juga tidak akan berlaku dan kemerdekaan yang kita peroleh mungkin juga tidak akan membawa erti yang lebih melainkan kemakmuran ekonomi.


Anonymous said...

What is politics? From the wiki on politics:

"Politics is the process by which groups of people make decisions[citation needed]. The term is generally applied to behaviour within civil governments, but politics has been observed in all human group interactions, including corporate, academic, and religious institutions. It consists of "social relations involving authority or power"[1] and refers to the regulation of a political unit,[2] and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.[3]"

And what is war? From the wiki on war:

"War is reciprocated armed conflict between political units aimed at a desired political end-state."

"In his book, On War, Prussian military theoretician Carl Von Clausewitz calls war the "continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means."[1] War is an interaction in which two or more militaries have a “struggle of wills”."

From these definitions, it is clear that war tries to achieve a political end which cannot be resolved by civil means.

It is probably more true to say that politics is about power and influence and the means to achieve it.

The morality of the ends justifying the means is another controversial issue in all human societies.

If prostitution is the world's oldest profession, politics
is the second.

Anonymous said...

It's more like parents having a quarrel or worse, parents having a divorce where the offsprings are always the ones to suffer the consequence.