There are many compelling arguments against guerrilla warfare as a strategy to fight war, occupation, genocide. Not the least of which is that too many civilians get killed & it can become a substitute for building a massive social movement. It’s a strategy long disputed, including against the English occupation of Northern Ireland, against dictators in Latin America, against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, & more recently against the occupation of Kashmir, the Syrian Arab Spring uprising, & the genocide of the Rohingya in Burma. In Burma, the Arakan Salvation Army was not so much a guerrilla force as a self-defense organization for unarmed civilians sustaining genocide. The same was true of many guerrilla groups coming out of the Syrian Arab Spring uprising. It is not a question of opposing the use of arms against an oppressive military force but of what is the most effective method in the particular conditions of war, occupation, & genocide. Sometimes arms are necessary, so it is also not a question of condemning those who take up arms even when it may not be the most effective method. The distinctions between the oppressed & the oppressor are not altered one iota by the methods chosen to stand against tyranny.
This leads us to the suicide bomb attack today in Pulwama, Kashmir, where 42 CRPF Indian special forces troopers were killed. Antiwar activists from the oppressor countries like the US or India have to deal with this issue all the time. We do not applaud the deaths of soldiers–even special forces who are trained psychotics–because they leave families behind. But we also do not treat them as martyrs since that does not just compromise with military occupation but capitulates to it. They are not martyrs; they are occupying marauders responsible for the deaths, disabilities, disfigurement, & terrorizing of civilians. There can be no equivocation on that score.
But now we see Indian Assadists & even so-called socialists engaging in an orgy of nationalist hysteria over the deaths of their “beloved Jawan” & calling for tributes & protest rallies in their honor. Indian Assadist Feroze Mithiborwala is leading the braying chorus of nationalists calling for tributes. This comes as no surprise since during the 2016 Indian Army rampage in Kashmir where thousands of civilians were injured & killed, he referred to unarmed Kashmiri protesters as “angry mobs” & reproached Kashmiri youth for arson, looting, destruction of public property, & attacks with rocks on the Indian occupying army of 700,000 soldiers. It was a shameful & detestable defense of occupation cloaked in a sustained scolding of Kashmiri Intifada.
The response to the deaths of soldiers should not be to excoriate Kashmiris or impugn their freedom struggle but to demand the Indian government withdraw its troops & end the occupation. If you don’t get that, your identification with the Assad & Modi regimes more than makes political sense & is only worthy of condemnation.
(Photo from scene of Pulwama attack from Reuters)