What is Hizbullah?

Juan Cole at Informed Comment has a post on Hisbullah that is important reading.

Western and Israeli pundits keep comparing Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. It is a huge conceptual error. There is a crucial difference between an international terrorist network like al-Qaeda, which can be disrupted by good old policing techniques (such as inserting an agent in the Western Union office in Karachi), and a sub-nationalist movement.
Al-Qaeda is some 5,000 multinational volunteers organized in tiny cells.
Hizbullah is a mass expression of subnationalism that has the loyalty of some 1.3 million highly connected and politically mobilized peasants and slum dwellers. Over a relatively compact area.
[. . .] Hizbullah is not like al-Qaeda in any way, sociologically speaking, and making such an analogy is a sure way for a general or politician to trick himself into entering the fires of hell.

Go read.

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3 thoughts on “What is Hizbullah?

  1. Dave, how dare Juan Cole try to inject logic and reason into something as complex as the Israeli effort to destroy Hezbullah? Why, next thing you’ll know, there’ll be someone trying to explain that the Lebanese Arabs are of differing religious denominations! I mean, can you imagine the idea that some of those Lebanese might actually be Christians!
    Okay–sarcasm mode off.
    Seriously, Juan’s is a voice which the lunkheads populating our current administration (specifically in the State and Defense Departments as well as the Chimp-in-Command and Lord Voldemort–I mean, Lord Cheney) really need to hear. Of course, no one in this current administration wants to hear any talk which might lead to anything less than full-scale Armageddon. Of course, it would be really nice if the Big Guy–the one to whom Dubya alleges he listens–would send a nice clear message to all concerned, reminding them that He is in charge of everything and isn’t quite ready to end the world, no matter how much His “followers” (Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Falwell, Robertson, et al) would like. (For the record, I’m a happy agnostic–with some leanings towards pagan Goddess worship–but I’m happy to couch my feelings in a language that the so-called Religious Right can understand.)

  2. Very important point! What’s more Hezbullah is also a political party with seats in Lebanon’s congress and positions in its higher offices. (That’s what happens when you insist on bringing “democracy” to other countries — people vote for people who aren’t looking out for your best interests.) One man’s “terrorist” is another’s freedom fighter. The word “terrorist” is used at random to describe far too many kinds of political elements.

  3. You’re entirely correct, MJ. After all, one man’s “terrorist” can even become an Israeli Prime Minister. Menachem Begin was connected to a terrorist organization before and during WWII which fought against British control of Palestine and the Arab population. Also, Ariel Sharon was responsible for allowing the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982.

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