Buddhist nation states have historically sought to use Buddhist doctrine to justify war. During the Japanese invasion of China in the 1930s, for instance, soldiers were told not only that they were defending Buddhism but that emptiness in Buddhism is the only true reality, therefore, in the end, nobody was being killed, Jerryson said.
Ultimately,added Jerryson, Buddhist countries battling insurgencies will find that their root problems are economic rather than sectarian.
"How many strong Buddhists states are we looking at in the world? How many of them are economically strong? Because with economic strength and vitality comes less likelihood of civil insurrections and wars.
"Of course, we see a lot violence with Islamic countries now, but we also see a lot of poverty with them too."
For Thailand-based security analyst Don Pathan the problems in Thailand's south have less to do with religion than with identity.
"The fact that the Or Ror Bor is exclusively Buddhist, doesn't say anything about Buddhism in ethical terms; it's just something that sets them apart from other security units," Pathan told CNN. "The issue is not about religion."
He said that while there were many factors influencing the insurgency -- economic, historical and the fact, he says, that the violence has migrated from rural areas to the cities -- he had also noticed a generational dimension to the problems.
"My experience with the older generation is that I still sense a strong fabric of society that still gets along together -- people are still friends whether they are Muslim or Buddhist.
"But I don't get that sense very strongly with the younger generation."
He said that while older Buddhists generally speak functional Malay to communicate with their neighbors, younger people have little interest in learning the language, regarding it as something only their grandparents do. The state emphasis on speaking Thai at schools has created problems, he said, reinforcing differences between the two communities.
"And it's not just Thai, but Central Thai -- that's how ethnocentric the Thai nation state can be. But they don't seem to understand that's a problem; that we need to accommodate the local identity," Pathan said.
He said the confusion between culture and religion was one of the driving forces behind the violence.
"It's like (groups) that say they practice correct Islam, but what is correct Islam? Islam is a religion not a culture," he said. "The problem (in southern Thailand) is that they don't separate these things; for them it's two sides of the same coin."