Monday, May 16, 2005

The Xiaxue Doctrine

"First we're going to cut it off, then we're going to kill it." -General Colin Powell/1991 Gulf War "I know the people whom I criticise are not going to come after me and sue me. I don't write about companies and they are the ones that will sue." -Xiaxue/The Straits Times/Blog No Evil
The Powell Doctrine is essential for battle planners. The idea is to wage war only when overwhelming force can be used against the enemy. A military strategist who consults for both West Point and Sandhurst, Xiaxue is well known among international military circles. Her most famous paper examines the Powell Doctrine, and extends it by looking at things from the opposite side, urging disengaging from combat if the enemy has overwhelming force. For the past few years, Xiaxue has been moonlighting as Singapore's most popular blogger to explore her more infantile side. Recently, social commentator HuiChieh re-discovered her military credentials after reading the newspaper article. He coined it: The Xiaxue Doctrine. The Xiaxue Doctrine is indeed useful for understanding a lot of things, and not only in matters of war. It provides essential insights to business, as well as legal matters. The rest of this entry will examine some of my thoughts and implications of The Xiaxue Doctrine. There are barriers when taking advantage of the fairness of the law There are significant barriers to entry when attempting to make use of the rights and privileges accorded by the law. The law tries to be fair, and to be fair, it is the fairest institution set up by man to ensure the coexistence of competing interests in an uncertain society. However, to claim this fairness, one has to resort to obtaining resources that are inherently not fair: money, power, politics, time, emotional costs and so on. There are those who can make use of the law to their advantage, there are those who don't have the necessary resources to do the same. For example, The Xiaxue Doctrine highlights the fact that companies have the ability to sue, while individuals are far less likely to do the same. Do note that this has nothing to do with the inherent fairness of the law itself. Debunking the 'there's no smoke without fire' myth There is a common temptation when looking at lawsuits (for example, the Michael Jackson case) and decide that 'there's no smoke without fire', there must be something substantial behind the charges. Therefore, the defendant is mostly likely guilty, at least to some degree. The Xiaxue Doctrine blows this myth apart. There is no inherent reason why a defendant in any lawsuit should be any more guilty than the plaintiff (the party that initiates action). A simple thought experiment illustrates this. If someone accuses you of molesting and demands a public apology or else legal action will be initiated, does that mean you're guilty, that there's no smoke without fire? Obviously not, assuming you're innocent and have no idea what this person is talking about. I fear the sacred honor that is 'innocent until proven guilty' is fast becoming an ancient relic. Our legal institutions are nothing without this assumption. There is smoke without fire, it happens all the time. The Chinese have a saying, 恶人先告状, the bad guy reports the crime first. Just because someone reports a crime, it doesn't mean he is in the right. The Xiaxue Doctrine is clear on this. There are some who can report a crime, and some who cannot. Choose your enemies, wisely. The Xiaxue Doctrine implores all to choose whom to fight against, wisely. Some enemies entail lower risk, some, a great deal higher risk. Have you chosen wisely, today? Some companies will choose to take action for no apparent reason The Xiaxue Doctrine recognises that some companies might initiate actions (legal or otherwise) for no reason, simply because they can. "They are the ones that will sue," she says. Even for things she has written that is not worth suing in the first place? The Xiaxue Doctrine seems to be affirmative on this point. With that, happy interpreting lawsuits. I, for one, still thinks Michael Jackson is innocent at this point in time.

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