Hezbollah: The Party of God(?)

Hezbollah has been an organization that since I began to discover has always given me food for thought. They are considered by many countries to be a terrorist organization, and much of the evidence makes sense on that front. Their constant struggle against hegemony and Israeli infiltration leads many to be believe they are no better than the al-Qaeda or ISIS at this point. Some would even argue they are on even footing in terms of potential power. But what many of these same critics also fail to see are the benefits of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Shi’a muslim community. It can be hard to understand how a single organization can both hold and torture multiple hostages from the U.S. and abroad, and run a hospital that even non-supporters of Hezbollah would go to because of the level of healthcare. The duality the organization has created for itself as a terrorist threat to the world, but a well organized politcal party and force for change within Lebanon brings up ethical dilemmas in almost every crack of the group.

For the majority of the paper I want to focus on Hezbollah and consequentialism. I think it offers a very interesting viewpoint where the organization was formed with specific goals in mind, and accomplished them in ways some would find morally wrong. But they also shifted their party from a strictly militia based organization into the political scene after the civil war had ended in 1992. In Lebanon they represent the Shi’a majority which is not always common in the Middle East; Sunni muslims make up somewhere between 75-90% of the world muslim population. Some of the services Hezbollah offers are only available to Shi’a or Hezbollah members, but many of them are open to anyone who wishes to use them. In an article from the New York Times some women in Lebanon do not have a problem with Hezbollah even when they are not supporters because Hezbollah does not bother them. Instead the organization is focused on the most recent campaign of ‘Lebanonisation’. In what began as a group of infidels dead set on removing outside influences from Lebanon in a resistance group manner, Hezbollah has slowly evolved into a political force for the Shi’a, to a political force for everyone in Lebanon and beyond. Is what they did/still do in terms of ‘terrorism’ justified because they are making the country a better place in the end? What is the right defintion of a better country? I would like to contrast consequentilism with Kantianism in the sense of abusing some means for an end, but also as Hezbollah being a means for some of Iran’s ends. Hezbollah has been linked with Iranian agenda’s since its inception and much of it is still true today. I think it can be an interesting discussion.

The main policy at stake here could really be two things. I find one could easily be terrorism from a different point of view and the next paper could look at terrorism effects on domestic and international stakeholders. But I also think it could be about the Middle East in general, and the types of organizations that are employed or committed to rebuilding or maintaining a country whether involved in terrorism or not. I am not sure so feel free to express your opinion on either of those policies or suggest an entirely new one.

Most of my infromation so far has been from Hezbollah: A short History which I read yesterday and found on Google Scholar. Other journals I have looked at, but not in complete detail yet include Hezbollah and the Axis of Refusal: Hamas, Iran and SyriaHabitat for Hezbollah which is about social services offered after the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War, The Hybrid Terrorist Organization: Hezbollah as a Case StudyHezbollah: Financing Terror Through Criminal Enterprise which offers a darker side of Hezbollah perspective, and some others. I also saw a couple of news articles like the one from the NYTimes from above about the women and their thoughts on Hezbollah.

Let me know what you guys think.

Featured Image: Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah wave Hezbollah flags as they listen to him on the 7th anniversary of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War ending.



5 thoughts on “Hezbollah: The Party of God(?)

  1. This is a very thought-provoking choice, Ben. I think that any passion about a subject will make for a deeper level of analysis and thought, and it would follow, a better paper.

    The one caution I would give, as I find myself writing about the things I am passionate about often, is that I have a tendency to look at the whole. The conflict at large in Palestine, the way it affects those involved, the motivation for Hezbollah, how and where religion plays in, historical background, Jewish perspective, racial bias and inequality, education, pain, relative happiness – all of it. I am concerned with people, and therefore everything that affects people concerns me, and I end up writing about the composite of all of these issues as a whole, and just say ” here, look at this – this is what’s happening.” And while’s there is value in that, and Aristotle’s idea that the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts, I’ve found myself having to pick and choose what I am trying to understand. Emile Durkhiem said, “To investigate any order of social facts, [you] must strive to consider them from a viewpoint where they present themselves in isolation from their individual manifestations.”

    So basically, separate, categorize, and isolate to understand huge issues like this. This is frustrating, (and I’ll probably fail to follow my own advice as well as I should in my own paper) but useful. I would isolate the aspects of Hezbollah that you want to analyze, so are you looking at consequentialism in its leadership, its ground soldiers, Palestine’s citizens, Paletine’s officials, the UN and the global community for letting them exist, etc. You could look one of these groups and ask why consequentialism is the ethical theory of choice, or why not? Is there any choice?

    I think the use of consequentialism is a good choice, it sets you up well to ask if the ends justify the means. You might want to find one or two particular themes or points in one article that you feel you can analyze some aspect of Hezbollah with, that way you have a clear and definitive argument. Jordi mentioned that this paper should sort of a response to the specific points of another article, and I think that could help to focus your paper.

    Again, good choice. Looking forward to reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You may want to look at Terrorism as Formal Organization, Network, and Social Movement

    I emailed you a copy.

    We use Hezbollah as one case study. We also build from your observation about how Hezbollah is not just “one thing” and in fact is quite formalized as an organization, quite embedded in social movements for Shi’ia rights, and so on.

    You will want to define terrorism. I prefer behavioral ones to avoid the problems of referring to white people taking over an Oregon building as one thing while muslims hijacking a plane is another. Basically, terrorism is a tactic of targeting civilians to maximize attention and leverage political actors. You seem like you are already there in terms of seeing it as a strategic logic instead of as a moral epithet. One can abhor terrorism and still understand its logic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also think you are on a good track to look at consequentialism.

    I am still fascinated by the fact that we do use it, often, at least as part of an ethical analysis even though most current ethical thinkers want to reject it.

    One part of your analysis may be about “who counts.” The topic of who counts for consequentialist thinking, and how that process is shaped by politics, would be interesting.


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