We need to find different ways to fight real enemies.
In 1955, I joined a group of university students from all over the world to join an international volunteers work camp. We were helping a village called Balingbing on the Philippine island of Minadao to recover from the devastation after a severe earthquake.
It took a long time for me to obtain a visa to enter the Philippines, because the authorities had to make sure my security could be guaranteed. The anti-Japanese sentiment was still strong, where the atrocity committed against civilian population by Japanese Imperial Army was brutal. While there, I heard many stories of savageries and massacres. I completely understood why they hated Japanese so much.
The regular armed forces are organized by the state according to the premise that the opposition is also organized by the state and are identifiable and visible with uniforms and insignia. The battles must be fought according to the rule of engagement by the Geneva Convention. This is why, until such recognition was given to some irregular fighters for their legitimate struggles for freedom, the irregular fighters such as the French maquis or the Philippino Huks were often summarily executed without the due process.
The trouble was those fighters without uniforms are invisible among a crowd of civilians. In many instances some of them are guerrillas. This is why many armies who were fighting the guerrillas had troubles distinguishing enemy from civilians. Therefore, many innocent civilians fall victim of attacks by the regular uniformed soldiers, hence hatred among population increases. I saw this in the Philippines and can see this happening in Afghanistan.
Maintaining the regular armed forces are expensive but guerrillas are cheap. A Vietcong with sandals made of old tires carrying only an AK47 defeated the world’s most powerful U.S. Armed Forces. The story is the same with the Soviet military in Afghanistan during the eighties. The regular army can not win the war with irregular fighters who have the support of the population.
The same story is repeated time and again in history since the Helvetic Confederation when a small band of determined fighters fought with sticks and stones and defeated the mighty empire and established the Old Swiss Confederation in the 13th Century. It’s time we stop sacrificing our magnificent young people in an unwinnable war and find different ways to fight the invisible enemy by finding first the causes of such discontent and hatred.