Why Kill Yourself?

Dying to Win author Robert Pape weighs in on the Hezbollah issue, but I'm not totally convinced of his take. Pape defines Hezbollah as "neither a political party nor an Islamist militia" but rather a "broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israel's invasion of Lebanon in June 1982." So far so good, but I think he takes this theme too far in saying the organization was "never tight-knit," and more of an "umbrella organization...of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims," more akin to the "multidimensional American civil-rights movement of the 1960's." This is the same stuff they've been saying, probably accurately, about "Al Qaeda" for years, but I don't know that it's applicable here. If I may channel my inner Raphael Patai for one generalization: Decentralized decision-making is a feature of many elements of Muslim society, and I'd rank Hezbollah as being far more centralized than the average.

Some combination of multi-interest dynamics could explain why Hezbollah's political maneuvers in Lebanon have been so inconsistent over the years, but when I went to interview Mohammad Fneish, for example, they certainly seemed organized, requiring a battery of security checks, disclaimers to fill out, personal information, etc., and that's after you go by a bunch of hard-looking characters who patrol outside their headquarters building (or patrolled; the building is gone now). The tasks of the security people, the PR people, the politicians, and the clerical staff all seemed as well established as you'd see in a military organization, and this was just to get access to a politician.

The problem may be that Pape seems to be working with 20-year-old information, but some of that information is pretty interesting. Contemplate this on the tree of woe:

In writing my book on suicide attackers, I had researchers scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and the biographies of the Hezbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were from leftist political groups like the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union. Three were Christians, including a female high-school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.

Suicide attacks, however, haven't been a central part of Hezbollah tactics for quite some time. I'm not optimistic about Israel's ability to whittle Hezbollah down to manageable size, nor of the Lebanese state's ability ever to get the monopoly on violence it needs to be viable. But Hezbollah has had its head out of the water for years, and could be vulnerable in the ways an organization becomes vulnerable when it grows out of its guerrilla/terrorism stage of development.

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  • dhex||

    tim, i love you because you work in choice lines from conan the barbarian every chance you get.

  • ||

    If you oppose Hezbollah, you oppose God.

  • ||

    H Balls: "If you oppose Hezbollah, you oppose God"

    Is that a belief, a Hezbollah summary, a satirical comment, other?

    DC

  • NoStar||

    "What these suicide attackers � and their heirs today � shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation."

    Any foreign occupation excepting Syria.

    Hezbollah's string are pulled from Damascus. A few well place missiles from Israel will cut the purse-strings.

  • ||

    "...nor of the Lebanese state's ability ever to get the monopoly on violence it needs to be viable."
    The age old definition of the State, surely.
    I think its a mistake to assume Hez is anyone's puppet.
    They have exterior support, but the forces that created them are certainly local.
    I wouldnt rule out the Israeli invasion, or its creation: the aptly named christian phalange, or a torrent of US Navy main gun shells up & down the Bekaa...such things both plow & fertilize the grounds, for whatever grows next.
    Nobody is obligated to sit thru oppression, murder, theft, & wanton destruction. Even Muslim peasants.

  • ||

    Nobody is obligated to sit thru oppression, murder, theft, & wanton destruction. Even Muslim peasants.

    How about Israelis? Are they obligated to sit through it?

  • ||

    I don't suppose it occurs to Pape that many of those actually pulling triggers on both sides are too young to have been affected by this "occupation" in 1982 -- you know, the one that supposedly justifies cowardly, unprovoked strikes against Israel more than 24 years later?

    Nobody is obligated to sit thru oppression, murder, theft, & wanton destruction.

    Oh, the poor things, forced to pre-emptively kidnap Israeli military personnel and launch rockets at their civilians. You're breaking my heart.

    As long as I can still get Lebanese food somewhere in the world, I don't mind waving farewell to the entire population of Lebanon. "Let's be clear, we're innocent civilians, not Hezbollah! We just support everything that they do and say, and wish for the annihilation of Israel just like they do!" Eat missiles, you weak-ass Islamobot pussies.

  • ||

    I'm not optimistic about Israel's ability to whittle Hezbollah down to manageable size, nor of the Lebanese state's ability ever to get the monopoly on violence it needs to be viable

    If you've been following where Hezbollah's rockets have landed the past few weeks it seems clear that it is israel's intention to push them far enough north that they can't reach Israel. They are pretty close now actually.

    What happens after that though is much less clear to me. I'm assuming Israel would hope very much for a multinational fighting force to act as a buffer. Yet another neutered peacekeeping force won't work.

  • ||

    from my watching the last 30 odd years, the US & Israelis damn near have a monopoly on bombing the crap out of people, oh, I mean, "suspected terrorist positions"
    We never hear if the suspicions are correct or not, do we?
    Back when that empty nitwit Reagan was titular head, we first deployed the Marines as "neutral peacekeepers" in Lebanon, a job they really dont need. That not generating enough excitement, his handlers had the New Jersey- or was it the Iowa? deployed, which promptly started flinging 18 in projectiles up & down the (Shiia, peasant) Bekaa. For WEEKS.
    They were supposed to sit quietly under that. Ill bet YOU didnt protest. I sure as hell did
    The perception management campaign here was that they were "precision munitions" , you know, the old "surgical strike". The fact they blew to hell the Marines neutrality, as well as untold number of Lebanese to hell, was dismissed. As was the Marine commanders request they be able to fortify. That was denied.
    10 months later, because some Navy gunlayers squawked to high heaven, the Dod layed out some 11 million US to make more big gun powder. Why? Because laying big guns is a science, & the powder, of Korean War vintage, couldnt put a 1900 lb projectile within 4 MILES of point of aim.
    Ah, yes, "precision" strikes.
    After 6 odd weeks of this wanton destruction, Hez blew up a Marine barracks. the Marine commander on the ground was crucified by the chickenhawks who ordered up the shelling to begin with. The name Cheney ring any bells?
    Who is supposed to sit under what now? Israel is reaping what it has sown, and still butchering noncombatants, on my dime. As usual.
    The US Army is takin chickenhawks up to age 42 these days..........feel free.

  • ||

    "I don't suppose it occurs to Pape that many of those actually pulling triggers on both sides are too young to have been affected by this 'occupation' in 1982"

    The Israeli occupation in Lebanon commenced in 1982. The Israelis occupation didn't finish until 2000 (with the arguable exception of the Shebaa Farms).

  • ||

    Oh, the poor things, forced to pre-emptively kidnap Israeli military personnel and launch rockets at their civilians. You're breaking my heart.

    Hezbullah launched rockets on Israel after Israel bombed the shit out ot Beirut and other Lebanese cities. Israel have some 10,000 Palestinians and Lebanese prisoners for years, some were kidnapped from Lebanon. So, why is the kidnapping of 2 israeli soldiers should be ground for war, but not the other way around?


    The Israeli occupation in Lebanon commenced in 1982. The Israelis occupation didn't finish until 2000 (with the arguable exception of the Shebaa Farms).

    Actually, it started in 1978 when Israel invaded southern Lebanon. Israel invaded and occupied the rest of country in 1982.

  • ||

    Would zeroentitlement also not mind the death of all of the Israeli population, or is zeroentitlement a racist?

  • ||

    Hezbullah launched rockets on Israel after Israel bombed the shit out ot Beirut and other Lebanese cities.

    Anon, thats just a flat out lie. You and I both know that Hezbollah had been launching rockets into Israel way before the current conflict broke out. It was definetely not much compared to the current barrage but even one is too many.

  • Jesse Walker||

    As long as I can still get Lebanese food somewhere in the world, I don't mind waving farewell to the entire population of Lebanon.

    In other words, you "deny Lebanon's right to exist," would like to "drive the Lebanese into the sea," and ... hmm, any other cliches we could retrofit for this conversation?

  • ||

    Is Val right? Wasn't Hamas launching 'rockets' (bottle variety no doubt)? I don't think Hez was.

  • ||

    OK I know what Val is talking about. Nevermind.

  • ||

    Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. Shockingly, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists.

    Suicide bombers make me think of the Hale-Bopp Comet, the people of Jonestown, the kamikaze and something someone famous once said about military training and accepting the inevitability of death.

    ...none of which is specific to Islamic fundamentalism.

  • ||

    I could imagine a commoner in Lebanon thinking it would be better if Israel would go away. Then Hezbollah would dissolve and peace would come. Of course they would not imagine being a satrapy for...and the consequences of...

    I cannot see where Israel could ever imagine peace no matter how hard they pound their enemies. The best they can achieve is to keep their enemies at a distance. Maybe living in a secure bubble is acceptable?

    This is a mess.

  • aspendougy||

    Exhaustive studies done on suicide bombers demonstrate that religious fanaticism is a very small factor. The largest number of suicide bombers have been Marxists in Sri Lanka. It is a psychological response to foreign occupation. Some people evidently find this harder to bear than even the worse home grown dictators.

    Israeli Jews will enjoy the same safety and security as those living in the U.S. as soon as they begin to treat Palestinians and other Muslim minorities the same way we treat illegal aliens.
    The IDF will kill as many innocent women and children as they need to if they think that even a few terrorist are in a given vicinity. Can you imagine a SWAT team in the U.S. operating under such rules? Just bomb the entire block and kill every family in the neighborhood. You are bound to get the terrorists along with them, unless they've already left.

    Ever since 1948 when Moshe Dayan directed his men to dump typhus and dysentery into the local Palestinian wells, and had them shoot the prominent village men, the IDF has operated under such rules. It has brought them temporary tactical victory, but not lasting peace and security.

  • ||

    In terms of structure and hierarchy, it is less comparable to, say, a religious cult like the Taliban than to the multidimensional American civil-rights movement of the 1960�s.

    I'm speechless.

  • ||

    I can't believe aspendougy just poisoned the well!

  • ||

    During the reign of noted Peacenik and antiwar activist Ariel Sharon (sarcasm intended), 14 IDF soldiers were killed by Hezbollah -- he didn't invade and get all bent out of shape because he was smart enough to know what would happen if he did: Israel bogged down in another occupation with Hezbollah and Syria gaining the upperhand in a country on the path towards liberalism. Olmert is as big of a dumbass as Bush and I hate to say it, but a lot more muslims would be alive if Sharon were still in power.

  • ||

    zeroentitlement, have you ever read what happens to people who set out to destroy monsters? You just justified a genocide. Well done.

    Michael, it was a comment about organization, not morality. Cripes, can't you people ever think about anything besides putting white and black hats on people?

  • ||

    I was going to say something here, but I've lost the will to type. I have Middle East Fatigue, Levantine Lethargy, and Ottoman Ennui.

  • ||

    Can you imagine a SWAT team in the U.S. operating under such rules? Just bomb the entire block and kill every family in the neighborhood.

    Yeah, I can imagine that. Becuase it's happened in US public housing complexes. Not bombing of course, but certainly sweeping every single unit of an apartment building. The police have been lucky they aren't facing an armed force like Hezbollah trying to defend their turf. But if the cops started facing gunfire from multiple directions, do you think the police would decide "These drug sweeps aren't worth it" or do you think this would make the police even more determined to "Go in there and clean the place up" (begging for more aid, of course).

  • ||

    So much anger, so little reading comprehension.

    "Hey, didn't they do that in the Middle Ages, as well? Yes, I'm sure I read that somewhere. Those krafty kikes started the plague!"

    I like this reasoning. I can get wasted every single day, and have no job, and if anyone calls me on it, I'll just remind them that there is a long history of bigots accusing Irish men of being drunk and lazy.

    BTW, the way you worked "camel" in there - very nice. Let's us know exactly where you're coming from.

  • ||

    Ddduuuudddeeessss....

    Chillax. Stop arguing about hizbollah.

    I think they should pass a UN resolution whereby no person is allowed to express an opinion on the middle east until they have actaully gone over there and/or been kidnapped.

  • ||

    You and I both know that Hezbollah had been launching rockets into Israel way before the current conflict broke out. It was definetely not much compared to the current barrage but even one is too many.

    I was talking about the current conflict. But, if you are in the mood of travelling back in history. Then you and I know very well that Israel was bombing the shit out of Lebanon since forever. So, what is your point?

  • ||

    Can you imagine a SWAT team in the U.S. operating under such rules? Just bomb the entire block and kill every family in the neighborhood.

    Well, if there were multiple volleys of artillery rockets emanating from that block targeting civlian areas and that's what it took to stop it, I would have to say it was probably justified.

    Sorry, but its a war, not a daisy farm.

  • ||

    Mark VIII,

    Egad! Levantine Lethargy is contagious! Quick everyone--sterilize your keyboards!

  • ||

    The sum total of all Israeli deaths - civilian and military - from this conflict is still lower than the number of Lebanese civilians killed in the one airstrike in Cana.

    The sum total of all Israeli civilian deaths is still lower than the number of children killed in that one airstrike.

    I write for RC, because he is just incredibly concerned with civilian deaths.

  • ||

    Also, I find it's become necessary to remind peole of the timeline of the current crisis.

    1. Hezbollah crosses border, engages Israeli squad, kills one and captures two.

    2. Israel conducts bombing campaign throughout Lebanon.

    3. Hezbollah begins rocket offensive.

    For some reason, most people appear to believe that Israel launched the air campaign to shut down the rocket attacks.

  • ||

    I was talking about the current conflict. But, if you are in the mood of travelling back in history. Then you and I know very well that Israel was bombing the shit out of Lebanon since forever. So, what is your point?

    Hmmm, i thought I was being clear. Apparently not to some people. My point was that since the Israely withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, (the end of the previous major conflict between the two countries), Hezbollah had continied to mass weapons on Israel's northern border and had continued to launch rockets into Israel. So for simpletons that suggest that the current conflict was started by by the kidnapping of the two soldiers,WRONG, that was simply Hezbollah's last act in a string of many over the last six years, which had figurately, given the political climate in Israel 'broke the camels back' or in this case broke Lebanon's back. So thats my point.

    We can always go back further, and talk about why Israel bombed and invaded Lebanon in the first place way back then. Remember? I seem to think it may have been another little organization that represented a minority of the Lebanese people that decided to use Lebanon as its headquarters and military base against Israel. Deja-vu? What was it called? Oh ya the PLO.

    And before you bring up Shebaa farms area (part of Golan heights) to justify Hezbollah's actions. Just so we are clear, the farms area has high elevations overlooking a score of Israel's northern towns and are of immense strategic value. And it would be tantamount to suicide for those towns to give up high ground from which rockets can be launched to even greater distances. I doubt any Israely administration could survive the political fallout from simply withdrawing and allowing militant organzations who call for the destruction of the country to have the advantage of higher ground right on the border. When there is peace and trust those areas can be returned. Until then u have to be realistic.

  • ||

    for the record: i opposed my dimes being sent to Saddam Hussien, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi, & the US imposing Arafat on the West Bank. Just as I oppose my dimes goin to those murderous loons in Israel.
    Those particular loons have piled up more bodies than the rest combined by this point. Burnt thru more of my money, too, to no particular end.

  • ||

    Val,

    Being realistic is one thing.
    But despite all the religious and bigoted rhetoric, this is a struggle over the land, and Israel's occupation of land others see as theirs is the root cause of the violence (strategic value does not justify my taking of your land).

    Negotiate a reasonable settlement and return of occuppied lands (the disputed territories), and Israel might get peaceful coexistence with its neighbors. Your plan leads to endless war.

  • ||


    Being realistic is one thing.
    But despite all the religious and bigoted rhetoric, this is a struggle over the land, and Israel's occupation of land others see as theirs is the root cause of the violence (strategic value does not justify my taking of your land).

    Negotiate a reasonable settlement and return of occuppied lands (the disputed territories), and Israel might get peaceful coexistence with its neighbors. Your plan leads to endless war.


    Hey,hey,hey, I dont have any plan that leads to an endless war. I dont have a plan period. I was simply stating facts, or atleast what I beleive to be facts. Im all for a resonable settlement and the return of lands. The problem as always will be reasonableness, you know what one sees as reasonable and just another sees oppresive and unjust. However I beleive that before any such agreement there needs to be figurative chages in the stated goals of Hamas and Hezbollah. For example destrcution of Israel can be replaced by a goal to end occupation and establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. Now such a change would not entail any difficulties except that it would root out true extremists.

  • ||

    "stated goals of Hamas and Hezbollah...root out true extremists"

    True. And if we can root out the extremists in the Keneset (sp?) that believe Israel has the god-given right to a much larger chunk of land than it currently has, then the extremists can fight it out on the fringes. Israel's current strategy, however, makes the extremist arguments seem central and legit. By holding all Palestians hostage to the Hamas policy, for instance, the IDF eventually contributed to a Hamas victory in a popular vote (fatah helped a good deal as well). Same goes for Hezb. The lack of discrimination by Israel between those like Iran/Hezb that want them destoyed and those like (most) Palestinians/ Lebonese who want them to end the occupation makes their position endlessly hostile to the very people who could help them gain the security they claim to want.

  • ||


    True. And if we can root out the extremists in the Keneset (sp?) that believe Israel has the god-given right to a much larger chunk of land than it currently has, then the extremists can fight it out on the fringes. Israel's current strategy, however, makes the extremist arguments seem central and legit...


    Agreed. Extremists on all sides need to go. But I dont think the current conflict can described as an expansionist compaign by anyone. I think that maybe Hezbollah had decided to test the resolve and tactics of the new Israely administration. However, they definetly bit of more then they ment, I doubt they were going for a new full out conflict.

    Political careers are relatively short, so it takes true visionaries to actually implement long-term goals,even at the risk of immediate unpopularity. For most part political decission however are pretty short sighted. They achieve immediate or a mid-term goals. And right now in Israel you have a green horn president who needs to show that he is made of the 'right' stuff.

    You also have to consider the fact that Lebanon is extremely diverse and Hezbollah isnt exactly favored in a number of areas. So we'll have to wait see what Lebanon's climate will look like after this. This might unite Lebanon, which is perfectly fine, but at the same time I think many more will be weary of letting a state-within-a-state situation go unchecked. Its still very possible that this will play out well for Israel in the long term. They might get a pissed of neighbour to the north, which they already have anyway in the shape of Hez. But now they might get an international buffer force, hopefuly with some teeth and eventually a Lebanon with out so strong a Hezbollah. And eventually in about 10 years, relations can start to thaw. Up until recently I actualy though the Lebanon was going to be next Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.

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