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The Social Fitness of Insurgencies: The Organizational Payoff for Legitimated Power – The Case of Hezbollah
Chris Dallas-Feeney, 2/15/2011



“And verily, the Party of God is sure to triumph” -- Quran 58:22

Since the end of World War II, over 850 different non-state political groups globally have used violence in the hope of achieving some political goal.[1] In response, many of these groups are often subject to overwhelming force by the state and its allies in order to exterminate or severely degrade the organization. As a result, even though some of these groups may aspire to evolve from limited terrorist operations to a proto-insurgency to a full-blown insurgency[2] that relies on mobilizing the masses to succeed, most disappear from the political landscape within months of their inception (Byman 2007 and 2006, Hoffman 2002). Though increasingly stronger, the violent organizations that are able to emerge from the start-up phase of their life cycle (Miller & Friesen 1984; Drazin & Kazanjian 1990) and grow their mass support base continue to be subject to a variety of external shocks. Shocks come in various forms and include battlefield losses, pending victory, repressive countermeasures by the state or its allies and the loss of social or economic endowments (Weinstein 2006, Suchman 1995). Depending upon the nature of the external shock, the stress of these events can degrade the organizational strength of these organizations in some manner either temporarily or permanently. Followers might defect. Sponsors might withdraw sanctuary and political or economic support. Pending victory might call into question the very need for the organization to exist with the mission seemingly accomplished. What mechanisms enable some organizations to restore all or a large portion of their strength to “pre-shock” levels in a timelier manner – i.e., demonstrate resilience? Over the last 50 years there have been a variety of relatively more established insurgencies that have revealed varying levels of organizational resilience when subject to external shocks. When subject to major shocks the resilience of more mature insurgencies such as the Viet Cong, the PLO, Hezbollah, FARC and the Tamil Tigers have varied.

The Puzzle

Why are some mature insurgencies more resilient than others when subject to external shocks? This research program will investigate the payoff to the organization for the investments (i.e., social deposits) it made to legitimate its power sufficiently prior to the shocks. The specific organizational payoff to be studied is the impact on the organization’s resilience – its ability to, and the means by which, it is able to restore all or part of its “pre-shock” organizational strength in a timely fashion. The external shocks that are most relevant to this research are those that would create reasonable doubt about the organization’s ability to deliver on the collective goods or selective incentives that Skocpal and Goodwin (1989) noted was the lifeblood of any insurgent organization. Skocpalnoted that “ it is the ongoing provision of such collective and selective goods (e.g., security, social aid), not ideological conversion in the abstract, that has played the principal role in solidifying social support for guerilla armies” (Goodwin & Skocpal 1989).

This research will challenge this position in the sense that the provision of material payoffs is likely necessary but far from sufficient to solidify organizational strength in its fullest sense[3] and especially to recover organizational strength post-shock in a timely manner. As I will argue, due to stresses at various times in an organization’s life cycle (e.g., during growth or maturity when the group is prominent enough to be subject to harsh repression) organizations may be unable to provide historical levels of material goods yet followers and sponsors do not defect and in some cases may even increase their market share. Is this due to additional selective payments or coercion made at or soon after the time of the shock or to some other social investments that were made sufficiently prior to the shock and which can be relied upon to bind the followers and sponsors to the organization during and following on from an organizational shock? For example, in the wake of the Hezbollah’s 2006 war with Israel that wreaked havoc on Lebanon,[4] as I will demonstrate below, the support for Hezbollah grew even though the organization’s ability to provide important material support was severely degraded as a result of the war.[5] This research will explore a set of cases beginning with Hezbollah, to better understand the role of legitimated power on the resilience of insurgencies.[6]

The Debate: Its Relevance and Importance

Scholars who study the resilience of insurgencies have historically located the source of that resilience within one of three basic sets of logic: 1.) The conditions of ‘supply’ create a fertile environment for insurgencies to flourish; 2.) The level of ‘demand’ for the insurgent’s services is sufficiently great to attract agents to meet that demand; 3.) The agency of the elites that lead the insurgency. While few of the scholars see the cause as lying solely in one camp versus another, these three schools of thought have dominated the literature in recent history. From a political science standpoint – and with some notable exceptions[7] – sociological phenomena are under-theorized as it relates to the causes of resilience of modern insurgencies. I believe that the dominance of these more neo-classical-economics-inspired explanatory models has crowded out the opportunity for analysts and policymakers to consider the role of more sociological factors such as legitimated power in the resilience of the modern insurgency. In addition, from a counterinsurgency (COIN) policy standpoint,[8] the transition from ‘whack a mole’[9] strategies (i.e., more search and destroy oriented campaigns) to more ‘population-safety-centric’ (i.e., the ‘oil spot’ metaphor) strategies still has not sufficiently accounted for resilience of insurgencies born of the deep social roots of some of these organizations. Finally, the impact of the counterinsurgent’s actions that delegitimates itself[10] is important to include in the analysis of the legitimation of the insurgent organization. An often-cited example how the actions of one party simultaneously delegitimating itself while legitimating its opponent is the IDF bombing of Qana on July 30, 2006.[11] A widespread portion of Lebanese society (let alone the region and the international community) saw the bombing as a confirmation of Israel’s unjust war against Hezbollah and reckless use of force given the nature of the provocation. This perception created a strategic opening for Hezbollah to increase the perception of the justice of their long-standing campaign of resistance to Israel.[12] While empirically more unruly to apprehend, the role of legitimacy could afford unique new insights to diplomatic strategies let alone military or counter-insurgency strategies. I will summarize these three positions before I move to the particulars of the Hezbollah case.

The ‘Conditions of Supply’ School

This school consists of four primary threads of scholarship. First, there is the ‘state sponsorship’ thread that focuses on the role of role of international patrons (e.g., post-revolutionary Iran, Libya, Iraq during Saddam’s era) who support insurgents (clients) in foreign countries for strategic reasons of that state (Byman 2006, Byman and Chalk 2003, Tanter 1999, U.S. Dept of State 2006). This logic has produced, for example, numerous accounts[13] of the role of Syria and Iran in the comprehensive support (i.e., financial, military, political, territorial and logistical) for Hezbollah and Hamas as proxies for those states’ conflicts with Israel. Far better for them to use the private army of Hezbollah and Hamas to bleed Israel and compel it to either ‘land for peace’ in the case of Syria or to simply weaken a mortal foe in the case of Iran. The sponsors resources are critical especially to those insurgencies that do not have the benefit of access to or control over natural resource endowments or other ‘lootable resources’ to fuel the insurgency (e.g., ‘blood’ diamonds or poppy fields). Via infusions of much-needed but scarce capital of all kinds, state sponsors enable an insurgency to accelerate through its most vulnerable period as it moves out of the start up stage to the growth stage and beyond.

The second thread in the ‘Conditions of Supply’ school builds on the beliefs about state capacity and regime type. Weak or failed states[14] (Rotberg 2002, Gannon 2004) do not have a monopoly on the use of force and are unable to thwart the birth and growth of insurgencies when they are most vulnerable (at or near birth). The institutions of government either do not exist in any viable form or are so corrupted as to be useless to the task of governing. The state is more like a Hobbesian world than Lockean or Kantian world. Kalyvas (2003, 2006) builds on the Hobbesian notion with his research into the microfoundations of violence in civil and ethnic wars. Kalyvas presents an argument that the intensity and bloodiness of conflict builds on an alliance of equals between the center (i.e., the main narrative of the conflict) and the periphery where the killing and violence can be essentially ‘feuds on a grander scale.’ The incipient anarchic state of a failed or failing state presents the opportunities to settle old scores and the bloodshed reaches unexpectedly high levels. The ‘lawlessness of warlordism’ narrative – which some use to describe the political violence within Afghanistan, Chechnya or Bosnia – is a prime illustration of this phenomenon.

The corollary to this second thread includes beliefs about regime type and its inherent inability to counter insurgencies (and thus be an indirect but key source of their resilience). Democratic regimes that are built on popular sovereignty are less able to prosecute the kind of counterinsurgency war that is needed to counter nascent insurgencies or to eradicate the stronger insurgencies; that is, democratic states do not perform well in ‘small, dirty wars’ (Merom 2003). This school believes that the liberal norms and values of democratic states hamstring their superior repressive powers. These scholars also argue that these states do not have the will to execute the kinds of ‘near genocidal’ forms of warfare that authoritarian states are likelier to conduct since the rulers in democratic societies are subject to the complex will of the people and that popular will is informed by a liberal concept of society. In this view, the state does not have the ‘stomach’ (i.e., the political will) for the kinds of violence that is needed to exterminate insurgencies. In The failure of Israel to eradicate Hezbollah, the failure of the US to eradicate the insurgents in South Vietnam[15] and the failure of the French to eradicate the GIA in Algeria are all examples of democratic states that didn’t have the political will to fight the kinds of wars that are needed to defeat insurgencies.

The third thread of this school of thought involves beliefs about the role of geographic conditions and how it affects the resilience of the insurgency. In this view, the nature of the terrain makes a major difference in the tendency for insurgency to occur let alone thrive (Fearon and Laitin 2003, Galula 1964). The ability for insurgents to easily conceal themselves until they are ready to engage in guerrila or other political violence operations provides the insurgency with a major advantage over those groups who operate in open, flat territory. In this view, the success of groups such as Lashkar e Taiba and the Taliban have more to do with the plentiful supply of mountainous and rugged terrain than grievances per se.[16] Scholars of civil war (Fearon & Laitin 2003; Collier 2000, Keen 2000, Berdal & Malone, eds. 2000) argued that the presence of compelling grievances over-determined the occurrence and duration of ethnic, civil or insurgent forms of conflict. Their analysis revealed several factors on the supply side (e.g., oil, demographics) but the presence of suitable terrain in which to operate (i.e., that which facilitated cover and concealment to blunt the imbalance of power relative to their foes) surfaced as a major variable to explain the occurrence and duration of these forms of conflict.

The fourth thread of this school of thought focuses on the economic and social endowment of social networks that are at the disposal of the insurgency. This argument says that the ability to attract fighters is a function of strong social ties nurtured in the context of the cultural and group dynamics of political Islam and a strong pre-existing organization (perhaps even non-violent in nature).[17] At the center of many of the organizational theories of modern-era Islamic revolutionary groups is a general conviction that the leadership is committed to the perpetuation of the organization and will modify the scope of the organization to ensure its longevity (i.e., the corporate aspect); e.g., add social services and political wings to the military capability (especially once the basic security issues are stabilized). Furthermore, to improve the potential to perform at a high level under difficult circumstances, the leadership of the organization will build it around strong, embedded social networks (Crenshaw 2001b; Sageman 2004; Putnam 1994; Saad-Ghorayeb 2001). The successful organizations have been able to organize and sustain themselves even under harsh government repression due to their networked and decentralized operating nature (Stern 2003; Sageman 2004). Weinstein (2006) notes that social endowments (to the extent they are present), can play a significant role in the durability of an insurgency. Social endowments include “ shared beliefs, common expectations, norms of behavior and trust with certain members of the population” (2006:601). These enable the resource-constrained but socially-endowed (e.g., lots of social capital)[18] rebel groups to offer promises of selective benefits in the future (attracting ‘investors’). To the extent that the social endowments are plentiful enough, the resource-constrained rebel group will attract the appropriate recruits to the organization.

The ‘Levels of Demand’ School

In this school of thought, the primary drivers of onset and the resilience of an insurgency are located in the overall level of ‘demand’ for the insurgent’s services. If the need is sufficiently great to attract (and maintain) agents to meet that societal need, the marketplace will provide the issue entrepreneurs a la Schumpeter’s ‘gale of creative destruction’ to innovate and to serve that need. The ‘greed vs. grievance’ thread in civil war scholarship is the prime focal point of this political science variation on the neoclassical economic notion of competition in a market-based economy (Collier & Heoffler 2000; Berdal & Malone eds. 2000). Civil war scholarship distinguishes causes of onset of civil war from causes of the duration of civil war as well as the resolution of conflict (Collier et al 2004; Berdal & Malone 2000). For purposes of evaluating alternative claims to the nature of resilience of insurgencies, however, I have combined these theories in the following discussion.[19] I will discuss the levels of demand school in two parts: a.) The greed component; and, b.) The grievance component. Following this discussion about overall motivations I will then address the related aspect of the professionalization of the management and operation of the insurgency. I locate this discussion here since I see it as a functional derivative of the ‘level of demand’ school of thought. This is supported by social movement theorists inclusion of the professionalization discussion alongside its theorizing about resource mobilization (McCarthy and Zald 1977, McCarthy et al 1996).

The greed component of the Levels of Demand school focuses on the motivations for self-interested gains of the elites that foment and lead insurgencies (Berdal & Malone 2000). If there are sufficient near term tangible payoffs to the elites to motivate them to mobilize and conduct an insurgency therein lays the engine of the movement. Insurgency and war making is ‘good business’ and organizations will form and evolve to capture the ‘profit pools’ of power and treasure in this business just like any other marketplace activity.[20] Regardless of any grievance-oriented narrative that the elites of the insurgency use to legitimate its campaign of political violence, the cause of most civil wars has an economic agenda at it core. Ideas and ideology are essentially epiphenomenal. As Collier (2000:100) notes: “…most rebellion is not quixotic.” For scholars leaning towards the economic explanation for civil war onset and duration, the presence of ‘lootable’ resources (e.g., oil, diamonds) a plentiful supply of males of fighting age and the (lower) level of education within the society empirically correspond to the history of civil conflict more robustly than a grievance agenda (economic disparities, ethnic fractionalization, political rights disparity and incompetent government). As Collier notes (Collier 2000) “…the true cause [and duration][21] of civil war is not the loud discourse of grievance, but the silent force of greed”. There are two interesting variations on the greed component: a) Tilly’s (1985) war as a basis for state-making; and, b) Weinstein’s (2006) notion of how endowments (social and economic) at the inception of an insurgency predetermine the nature of the followers who are attracted to the organization.

Tilly (1985) identified an interesting variation on this model that is of particular interest to the study of the resilience of insurgencies - war making as a basis for state formation but situated the argument in an organized crime concept. That is, those who can provide security provoke the conditions of insecurity so the masses will buy (via taxes or tributes) those services from them. War making is a racket in that the security provider has artificially manipulated demand for that public good via the prosecution of its own self-interest against other states. Links between the trafficking of narcotics and insurgencies such as the Taliban[22] and Hezbollah[23] provide some support for the ‘greed is the engine of the insurgency’ argument. The argument is inconclusive, however, since the narcotics trafficking could simply be a lucrative sub-business used to supplement the insurgency’s financial resources to drive their political agenda – perhaps an unsavory business for a pious and principled Islamic group[24] but one that both harms their enemies and strengthens the balance sheets of the movement.

Weinstein (2006) notes that if the insurgent organization is blessed with significant economic resources at its inception (i.e., lootable resources) it will tend to attract ‘consumer’ type followers who care relatively less about the ideas that are the basis for the movement and more about opportunity for self-gain. In contrast, if the social endowments are greater at the inception then the movement will attract ‘investor’ type followers who are prepared to serve the political agenda of the movement and yet are willing to defer payoffs for that service both in kind (material payoffs not as important as the political/cultural/identity goals) and timeframe (this generation or next). Weinstein goes on to note that even if an insurgent organization is born with leaders who are geared towards a social set of goals, the presence of large economic endowments will attract the consumer type followers who will ultimately reshape the direction of the movement towards opportunism. In Weinstein’s view, the pull of the economic agenda will always trump the social agenda and it has strong path dependencies from an organizational standpoint.

The grievance component within the Levels of Demand school focus on a slate of grievances that Collier neatly packages into four basic areas: economic disparities; b.) political rights disparities; c.) government incompetence; and, d.) ethnic hatreds. At the root of the grievance component is the deprived actor research program (Gurr 1970), the collective action research program (Olson 1965, Lichbach 1998) and the social movement theory research program (McCarthy & Zald 1977; McAdam et al. 1996; Bayat 2005; Wiktorowicz 2003; Tilly 2003, 2006). The resilience of insurgencies according to this school of thought is tied closely to the depth of the grievance that is felt by the actors (or potential recruits), political openings to voice their dissent, the ability of the elite to frame a compelling call to action and the ability to mobilize the resources to selectively incent the needed followers to effect the political changes needed. The greater the collective sense of grievance, combined with the resources and political openings to exploit, the more resilient would the insurgency become. In most of the literature, as noted, the insurgency as an organization is not the unit of analysis and the notion of resilience in under-theorized.[25] Social movement theorists improved on this by focusing on the organizational unit of the social movement but this form of organization was still an ephemeral entity that ontologically operated below the level of a ‘going concern’.

Ethnic hatreds and all of its cultural variants (e.g., global jihad and clashes of civilizations) have occupied a particularly visible part of the insurgency and counter insurgency literature as the source of the persistence and global spread of insurgencies (Stern 2003; Roy 2004, Huntington 1993, Habeck 2006; Pape 2005; Crenshaw 2001; Cronin 2004, Mueller 2000). These scholars argue[26] that the resilience of insurgency is fueled by ethnic hatred and its cultural variants, particularly irreconcilable differences in primary cultural attributes such as religion (i.e., Islam versus Christianity, Judaism or simply secularism). In the context of explaining global jihad, some scholars believe it to be based on the belief that to close the “God-shaped hole” in their identity due to the overwhelming and oppressive forces of modernity and globalization (Stern 2003:282-283; Roy 2004), insurgents are more responsive to the messages of radical elites, or to societal-imposed norms of responsibility to act, to join[27] a global defensive jihad. The goal of this defensive jihad is to purify Muslims and to evict oppressive international forces in order to return the contested territory/resources as well as the threatened culture to its rightful people (Huntington 1993 and Habeck 2006). This defensive jihad justifies extreme violence, if need be, to coerce or to kill apostate Muslims, non-Muslims that resist the calling of conversion to Islam and all combatant forces of the occupying or oppressing nations. While Stern, Haber and Huntington frame this hypothesis more from a social constructivist perspective (i.e., incompatible cultures as well as potentially violent and offensive ideologies),[28] Crenshaw (2001) and Pape (2005) allow for this same argument to be framed from an instrumentalist viewpoint. Crenshaw sees this phenomenon as a possible convergence of local grievances (conflation of what were once only operating at the state level) that could be amassing to a transnational level (i.e., Al Qaeda is the first born of a new form of international insurgency; see also Roy 2004). Pape (2005) sees the strategic logic of suicide terrorism as a basic bargaining mechanism to coerce democratic governments to return (or leave) occupied land. Cronin (2004:38) also suggests that this argument may best understood from a more instrumentalist view. She notes that this argument may also reflect a form of system-level balancing of power (Waltz 1979; Walt 1987) in that the Islamic insurgents are resisting the hegemonic power of the West and in particular the United States (clearly a non-state version of power balancing, if this is at all the case).

Agency of Elites

In addition to the environmental conditions of supply and demand, some scholars locate the primary causal power for organizational resilience in the agency of the elites who lead the insurgency. Byman and Pollack (2001) made the case to ‘bring the statesman back in’ to the study of international relations. They argue that there are key circumstances (e.g., extent of turmoil in the system, concentration of power in a given organization) that lend themselves to greater impact by the individual than would otherwise be the case. Weber, of course, argued that the leader (the charismatic leader) could, in fact, be a major force but as organizations changed from their pre-modern state to more rational-legal bureaucracies, the impact of the charismatic leader would decline. This set of alternative explanations will focus on the means by which the agency of elites conceivably drives the resilience of the insurgent organization. I will focus on two key areas of leadership: 1.) information management; and, 2.) professionalizing the insurgency.

Information Management

Information management consists of what, how and when the leadership communicates internally and externally. The leadership’s skillful use of symbols, myths and the ‘good marketing’ to get a key message properly placed and reinforced with the target audience (Bob 2005, Wedeen 1999, O’Neill 1999) is a key tool in the management kit of the successful insurgent leader (Galula 1964). High performing groups know how to manipulate information to demonize their foes as the oppressor and to fortify the membership (and future recruits) in hard times through mythmaking (Voss in McAdam, McCarthy and Zald 1996). Followers need to have more than fear of repression to motivate them.Building on the case of Milosevic in Serbia and the Rwandan case, they identify the critical need for the alleged enemy of the elites to act or threaten to act in a menacing way such that the violence-inciting discourse of the elite is plausible. In effect, unless there is a plausible logic to do so, the masses aren’t dull-witted and without agency such that they would be ready to take the leader at face value and pay a heavy price to fight for them – especially a leader that is bent on resurrecting their claim to power. In order to influence the masses the leader requires a particular interaction with the opponent that is beyond their direct control. This is a helpful sharpening of the ‘fear’ mechanism that has historically been less effective in explaining enough cases of the logic of followership. “Ethnic conflict is a social dilemma. Each citizen acting alone cannot affect the outcome. Fear of extreme consequences beyond their control drive the citizens to support violence to avoid being the victim. The choice faced by pivotal constituencies is not between war and peace. The problem is that a third alternative is worse than war: violent victimization (De Figueiredo and Weingast 1999: 266).” The presence of the security dilemma alone is inadequate to explain the presence or absence of civil war and the ability of a manipulative elite to foment support in the masses (Weingast 1999: 265). The earlier generations of thinking regarding the fear of victimization by the Other was based on a insufficiently theorized perspective on simple information asymmetry line of thinking regarding civil war (Snyder and Ballantine 1996).

Professionalizing the Insurgency

Reading the classic texts on guerilla warfare by Mao (2000) and Che Guevara (2007) you will see major sections dedicated to the management of the guerilla organization. These guerilla leaders are clear that success depends on an efficient and effective organization to underpin the compelling messages of change that they used to rally the faithful to their causes. Modern scholars who study guerilla warfare and insurgency support the need for efficiency in operations (e.g., losses in combat, resources consumed to conduct any given operation) and effectiveness in reaching beyond the core followers to aggregate all the needed resources to successfully prosecute the goals of the insurgency. For purposes of this research, I have labeled this body of thinking the professionalization of the insurgency.

Building on the premise of resource mobilization theory, some scholars argue that the ability of elites to construct professional organizations to efficiently and effectively prosecute a particular political agenda is what is most important to the resilience of insurgencies. McCarthy and Zald (1977:1215) note ".. . that there is always enough discontent in any society to supply the grass-roots support for a movement if the movement is effectively organized and has at its disposal the power and resources of some established elite group…For some purposes we go even further: grievances and discontent may be defined, created, and manipulated by issue entrepreneurs and organizations.”

McCarthy and Zald argue that the leadership’s ability to perform the following five functions well is the best explanation for the success of the movement: 1.) resource aggregation (money and labor); 2.) coherent organization structure (specialization of labor, networks to manage clandestine operations and clear roles and responsibilities); 3.) management of the involvement of the resources/constituents outside the immediate social collective that the insurgency represents (e.g., sponsors and powerful sympathizers); 4.) expertise in ‘supply chain’ management (the movement of resources into and out of the organization); 5.) expertise in performance management (i.e., costs as well as rewards). While you can argue the choice of words, the intent of the above-listed five areas is to locate the explanation for the resilience and ultimate success of the social movement on the professionalization of the management and operation of the organization. This logic fits very neatly into the neoclassical theory of the efficient firm and the related scholarship about organizational birth, growth, maturity and decline (Coase 1937, Williamson 1975).

Key Concepts Used in the Research

There are five key concepts that I will be using in this research:

  • Insurgency
  • Legitimacy and Legitimated Power
  • Organizational Strength
  • Resilience and Shocks
  • Social Deposits

Each is defined for use in the research below. Where appropriate, I have also included a discussion of the means by which I propose to empirically gain traction on these variables.


I have based the definition of an insurgency for purposes of this research on a 1980 CIA definition. I have made one notable modification that is specified following the quote.[29] “Insurgency is a protracted political-military activity directed toward completely or partially controlling the resources of a country through the use of irregular military forces and illegal political organizations. Insurgent activity – including guerilla warfare, terrorism, and political mobilization, for example, propaganda, recruitment, front and covert party organizations, and international activity – is designed to weaken the government control and legitimacy while increasing insurgent control and legitimacy. The common denominator of most insurgent groups is their desire to control a particular area (as noted, I have relaxed this constraint). This objective differentiates insurgent groups from purely terrorist organizations, whose objectives do not include the creation of an alternative government capable of controlling a given area or country.” My use of the term insurgency also includes resistance organizations that do not claim to be a rival of the incumbent government but a.) possesses a military capability that rivals the state’s monopoly on power, and, b.) claims to exist to resist the military or political influence and incursions of foreign nations (e.g., Hezbollah vs. Israel and the USA).

Legitimacy and Legitimated Power

“Organizations compete not just for resources and customers (followers), but for political power and institutional legitimacy, for social as well as economic fitness” (DiMaggio & Powell 1991). Beetham (1991) talks of the distinct angle of pursuit that a social scientist takes to legitimacy and how it is different from the primarily legal or philosophical angles of pursuit: “A social scientific analysis of legitimacy is concerned with the effect it has on the character of a given relationship, and on the behavior of those involved in it. It is the importance of legitimacy – its character and degree – to explaining people’s behavior that concerns the social scientist.” Legitimacy and the related processes of legitimation and delegitimation rose in importance in the post-Westphalian/post-divine-right monarch era as societies grappled with the underlying justification for who should govern and how those authorities should govern (Clark 2006; Zelditch 2001).

Forms of Social Control

Legitimacy is relevant to the political scientist since it is seen as one of three basic forms of social control[30] (Hurd 2007; Zelditch; Beetham 1991; Suchman 1995) and; therefore, a critical link to all forms of power – both interactive forms (i.e., power to) and constitutive (i.e., power over) forms (Barnett and Duvall 2005). At one end of the spectrum of social control is the logic of coercion. Social systems that rely heavily on coercion should evidence enormous resources dedicated to enforcement and surveillance (e.g., the Republican Guard and the Basij in modern Iran). In the middle is the mechanism of selective incentives based on the self-interest of the individual actor. These social systems are characterized by the fundamental ‘consent to a contract’ that is modeled on the concept of a system of social exchanges that are based on specific, or immediate, reciprocity (Hurd 2007, Keohane 1986). Hurd (2007) emphasizes rightly that there is no need to separate the premise of rational choice from the constructivist dimensions of legitimacy (Fearon & Wendt 2002). As Wendt (1999: 238-240) points out there is an important theoretical and practical significance to the difference between interest and self-interest. All actors have interests since interest is about motivation.[31] Self-interest explains the instrumental logic of the egoistic actor who is self-regarding – “what is in it for me – now – if I cooperate?” As Hurd (2007:39) notes: “…a social system that relies primarily on self-interest will necessarily be thin and held together tenuously, and be apt to change drastically in response to the shifts in the structure of payoffs.” Interests are sources of motivation for an actor but can be significantly broader and time-phased than the concept of self-interest suggests. This distinction is important to the manner in which legitimacy is to be understood and the overall focus of this research.

At the other end of the spectrum of social control is legitimacy. Legitimacy is a form of relational logic by which the subordinate actor chooses to obey a dominant actor absent coercion or immediate payoffs for one’s self interest. In this research, Legitimacy is a source of an actor’s interests in the context of a social exchange. “A legitimate rule or institution [or organization] is one that has been internalized by the actor’s own sense of its interests and its identity (Hurd 2007:41).” When power is legitimated it acts as a constraint on the power of the dominant social actor and facilitates a “thick” trust-based social exchange between dominant and subordinate. For purposes of this research I will use the following definition for the independent variable of legitimated (organizational) power:

“Power that provides the grounds for obedience on the part of the subordinate to it, because of the normative force that derives from rules, from the justificatory principles underlying those rules and from actors expressing consent.” (Beetham 1991: 101)… “Legitimacy is the generalized perception or assumption that actions of an entity are desirable, proper, or appropriate within some socially constructed system of norms, values, beliefs and definitions” (Suchman 1995: 574)

This definition (particularly the Suchman component) brings in the role of history, the impact on the organization of the structural forces of society and its culture, the normative nature of the phenomenon and the agency of the organization. Another important aspect that this definition implies is that legitimacy once internalized by the actor has the power to change interests.

Although Legitimacy is an inherently normative concept as applied in this research, it is crucial to the operation of large-scale social mobilization whether for good purposes or bad (Hurd 2007:34). In addition, in contrast to the ‘conflict school of Legitimacy’ such as Marx, Gramsci and Habermas (Zelditch 2001), I am using the independent variable of legitimacy as a subjective concept in this research – it is in the ‘eyes of the beholder’ (Hurd 2007; Sidanius et al 1991).

Legitimacy and the Link to Resilience

Suchman (1995) makes an important distinction in his review of the legitimacy literature when he speaks to the purpose for which organizations seek to employ legitimacy. If an organization simply seeks to be undisturbed by other actors in its environment then that is a very different case than an organization that seeks broad-based active support to achieve its strategic, transformative goals. All things being equal, revisionist organizations are inherently more resource-intensive than organizations that aim to maintain the status quo. Applying the metaphor of Schweller’s ‘animal farm’, insurgencies are more like wolves, foxes or jackals than the doves, owls or hawks (Schweller 1998). They are revisionist (whether limited or unlimited aims) in their interests. The legitimacy that insurgencies seek necessarily has to be a more potent form since it will be relied on to overcome the ‘rebel’s dilemma’; i.e., the significant mobilization challenges that any violent and revisionist collective action entails (Olson 1965; Lichbach 1995). Insurgencies need to build and take advantage of a potent form of legitimacy so they can multiply the effects of their generally limited material power vis a vis the social power that inheres to a legitimated organization.

Suchman (1995: 574-575) points to Talcott Parsons when he notes that “legitimacy leads to persistence because audiences are most likely to supply resources to organizations that appear desirable, proper or appropriate…legitimate organizations become almost self-replicating, requiring little on-going investment in collective mobilization. In essence, legitimacy flips the valence on the collective action problem.[32] Collaboration in support of institutionalized activities is built into the structure of everyday life.” It is Collier (2000 in Berdal and Malone) who points out that the grievance form of the civil war argument is so implausible and unsupportable empirically because of the collective action problem.[33] He notes that few rebels conduct rebellion in a quixotic manner. He notes that it is only “social capital” that can help an organization overcome the triple threat of the collective action problem: the free rider, coordination (scale) and time-consistency (deferred payoffs). As I will discuss below in regards to alternative explanations for the resilience of insurgencies, there are other rich bodies of literature that argue alternative logics that are less social and more economic in nature (e.g., warlordism).

Gaining Empirical Traction of Legitimacy

Legitimacy is a nuanced and contested social phenomenon (Suchman 1995; Clark 2006) that can take different forms even within the life cycle of one organization let alone a system of organizations in a society over decades or centuries. As an early student of organizational change and persistence wrote: “An input called ‘legitimacy’ is popular in sociological circles but highly resistant to empirical specification (Terreberry 1968).” Time has not healed this methodological gap. Legitimacy has been under study for over 2500 years (Zelditch 2001) and many theories of legitimacy have been put forward which has likely diluted the tractability of this otherwise important social phenomenon.[34] The analysis of social variables in general present challenges for the researcher (Berger & Luckman 1966), but legitimacy will warrant an especially careful, contingent and patient research process to uncover its presence and it causal powers, if any (Hurd 2008, Suchman 1995, Beetham 1991, Wendt 1992).

Beetham 1991 has outlined a theory of how legitimation of power progresses from a beginning to an end stage (see table below for the factors and stages).

Table I-1: Beetham’s Concept of the Stages of Legitimation of Power

At the heart of Beetham’s conceptual framework is the need to specify both the authoritative source of the rules as well as the justifiable content of the rules. The framework is sound and reasonable but it is built from a mindset of Western democracy that may or may not be relevant to the societies that I will study in this research and it does not enable the researcher, empirically, to gain traction on the state of legitimation in a more objective manner. To that end, I have conceived of a derivative of this model (see Tests for States of Legitimation later in this chapter).

In order to gain empirical traction on the state of legitimation of the organization, as noted earlier I will need to locate the nature of the social deposits (see below) across time and across a specific set of ex ante tests for the presence or absence of legitimation of the organization. At this point in the research process, it is unclear what level of legitimation of an insurgency (if any) is needed to enable its resilience and under what conditions those causal mechanisms are operable. These tests will enable me to systematically classify events related to key actors (i.e., the organization, its sponsors, its rivals) and actions on or by key these actors (e.g., social deposits, withdrawals, major international events) in the context of the methods of operations and nature of outcomes levers that were discussed earlier. The tests are situated in the three levels that correspond to the three social action levers discussed earlier: 1.) Vision, Mission and Values; 2.) Methods of Operations; and 3.) Outputs.

Organizational Strength

I define organizational strength as consisting of the following four principal elements: Political Strength, Military Strength, Economic Strength and Durability. I will discuss each of these elements and unpack the subcomponents of each element that will be used to focus the empirical investigation to determine the presence of absence of resilience of the organization following the shock (see discussion of Resilience and shocks below).

The subcomponents of Political Strength that I will evaluate pre and post shock include:

The subcomponents of Military Strength that I will evaluate pre and post shock include:

The subcomponents of Economic Strength that I will evaluate pre and post shock include:

The subcomponents of Durability that I will evaluate pre and post shock include:

Resilience and Shocks

Resilience is the speed and efficiency (i.e., level of resources expended) of the organization to be able to restore all or a significant portion of its pre-shock organizational strength. Therefore, for purposes of this proposal, resilience is an organizational trait that focuses on its ability to adapt to and recover from external shocks as measured by the time to restore all or a significant portion of its pre-shock strength. The insurgency’s resilience is the primary DV whose variation I am seeking to explain with this research.

An important element of the discussion about resilience is the concept of a shock. Shocks are the triggering events that test an organization’s resilience. It is important to frame them properly at the outset to ensure that consistency in comparison across the cases and to generate initial hypotheses about the impact of the type of shock on the resilience of an organization. I have constructed a framework to locate the salient aspects of shocks for selecting events across the cases and around which I will be measuring organizational resilience. For purposes of this research, shocks have three major dimensions: 1.) Time; 2.) Nature; and 3.) Type.

With regards to time, shocks to an organization can occur in two basic time frames: abrupt events that create a crisis for the organization in a very compact time frame (days or weeks); and, a slower form of cumulative stressors (months or years) that may or may not evoke a response from the organization to redress the change in their environment (Hwang & Lichtenthal 1999). For purposes of this research, I am limiting the shocks to the abrupt time frame.

With regards to the nature of the shock I am adopting the scheme used by Ashforth and Gibbs (1990) and isolating the nature of the challenge that the shock represents to the organization into two categories: Performance-oriented challenges that are based on the belief that the organization has failed to achieve its goals and/or its mission; and, Values-oriented challenges that are based on the belief that the organization’s very mission is at issue regardless of how well it is positioned to achieve its goals.

The third and final component of the framework to select and analyze the shock is its type. I will draw on Weinstein’s (2006) scheme for his research on the organization of rebellion: 1.) major loss on the battlefield; 2.) loss of a major sponsor’s financial or political support; 3.) pending victory; and, 4.) repressive action by the state (or a foreign occupier).

See table below for a graphic depiction of the scheme that I will use for framing a shock to be analyzed for each of the organizations to be studied. I will discuss the details of the events selected for each case in the subsequent chapters.

Table I-2: Scheme for Framing a Shock

As noted by the red highlighting in the above table, I propose to focus on events that are abrupt in timing, can be either a performance or values challenge and are only a battlefield loss or a pending victory type of event. The specifics of shock event choices will be discussed in the following chapters frame and discuss the four cases upon which the empirical component of this research is based.

Social Deposits

Social deposits represent those non-coercive, prior actions by the organization that are intended to facilitate the development of trust in the organization – the binding of a specific constituency to the organization - in the event of a major shock to that organization; i.e., a major performance or values challenge that follows on from a shock (Ashforth & Gibbs 1990). Social deposits represent costly[35] binding commitments by the organization and operate as a form of diffuse reciprocity (Keohane 1986) in a social exchange between the organization and the constituency with whom it seeks to legitimate itself. Social deposits can come in the form of what the organization says about itself, the social goods it delivers and/or how it goes about delivering on its promises to its greater circle of followers and supporters. To be a social deposit, these actions by the organization, and any related physical capital (i.e., goods or services) that they have employed, would need to be made well in advance (likely years versus months) of any particular shock that the analyst is assessing.[36] Social deposits are made by the organization with no immediate expectation of payback but are geared to create a durable trust by: a.) alleviating major fears of an important constituency (or multiple constituencies) about the organization exploiting that constituency; b.) building a shared view on the basis of differentiation between the dominant party and the subordinate party; and/or, c.) building a shared view on the common interests that unite the dominant and the subordinate (Beetham 1991). The social deposit may, or may not, be made in an attempt to hedge a specifically foreseen concern by a given constituency. In short, the social deposit could be made simply in the general interest of building a general trust in the mission, operations and outcomes of that organization.

When dealing with the case of an insurgency that seeks to legitimate itself to some portion of the masses, the imbalance of power between the insurgency and the followers demand that the dominant party legitimate its power (Beetham 1991) by addressing the followers’ fears of exploitation by the insurgency, locating the basis for differentiation between the organization and its outer rings of followers and the basis for common interest across its various classes of followers. How does the follower outside of the immediate and hard-line circle of support know that the insurgency is not simply a tyrant-in-waiting that will exploit the followers once they assume power? In this sense, an insurgency’s attempts to legitimate its power is a form of limiting its power to demonstrate its positive intentions more clearly and in a binding fashion to the masses.

To the extent that the web of social deposits made by the organization (see below) is effective in mitigating[37] these major fears of the primary constituencies, the organization will have legitimated itself as a political actor to that constituency. Taken together as a total program of action by the organization, the web of social deposits represents the implementation of an organization’s legitimation strategy. In this sense, legitimacy is a strategic asset to be manipulated by the organization’s leaders but this asset is also subject to the social structure within which it is enacted by the leadership (Suchman 1995, Hurd 2007; DiMaggio and Powell 1991). One key aspect of the social structure is the context of international events – or more significantly, series of events - within which the organization and its host state is situated. For example, absent the overall climate of conflict in the middle east, would Hezbollah have the political appeal that it otherwise seems to enjoy? As hypothesized in this research, the specific scale, scope and nature of a particular organization’s social deposits program enables it to legitimate its power over the longer term. The legitimated power, it is hypothesized, facilitates resilience in selected organizations that are subject to certain types of shocks.

Locating Social Deposits

Social deposits consist of actions at the intersections of the axis of ‘Macro Goals’ and the ‘Action Levers’ as noted in the matrix below:

For analytical purposes, the ‘Macro Goals’ consist of the intent by the organization to legitimate itself via social deposits that demonstrate its conformity to the norms, values and beliefs of the targeted society and/or to legitimate itself via social deposits that seek to change society’s norms, values and beliefs about itself (Pfeffer and Dowling 1975, Pfeffer & Salancik 1978). While changing society’s culture is a significantly greater challenge than demonstrating conformity for an organization that seeks to legitimate itself, the analyst needs to understand the nature of and success/failure of an organization’s attempts to change society. In particular, this research will seek to understand the compromises that the organization makes to modify its strategies of legitimation to the extent that society fails to respond or responds negatively to the organization’s attempts at transformation of its culture. Hezbollah staked a claim in its 1985 Open Letter that it sought to establish an Islamic government to govern all of Lebanon (Norton 1987). Lebanese society rejected this proposition (Sankari 2005, Palmer-Harik 2004) and Hezbollah modified its hard-line stance and progressively distanced itself from this attempt to transform Lebanese society from a pluralist form to an Islamic form.

The norms, values and beliefs – its culture – of any particular society are always subject to interpretation, morphogenesis, and are subject to change over time even if only slow-moving change (Ross 1997; Archer 1995; Swidler 1986). The cultural attributes that the analyst needs to focus on, therefore, should be framed at the macro level (e.g., in the case of Lebanon one would expect to see meta-values of ‘commitment to Lebanese sovereignty’, ‘commitment to religious and political pluralism’ as characteristics of the national culture and ‘resistance to Israel’ as part of a major sub-culture). Within either of these macro goals, the organization can make social deposits that reflect its missions, vision and values (what it says it believes and its purpose as an organization), its methods of operations (how it goes about its business), and, specific outputs; i.e., physical goods or services such as security, educational services, and healthcare that the organization produces for the constituency to whom it seeks to legitimate itself.

The Mission, Vision and Values of the organization can be demonstrated in a variety of discursive forms including the leverage of symbols by the organization to send a specific message, frame a specific organizational identity and/or induce the audience to expect a certain outcome (Hurd 2007, O’Neill 1999). This research will unpack the most significant attempts by the organization to shape the Mission, Vision, Values narrative via its use of symbols and other discourse with the masses it seeks to whom it seeks to legitimate itself. Organizations use of legitimizing myths (Hurd 2008, Wedeen 1999) could be authentic attempts to fortify the followers in general or in times of duress (Voss 1996) but there is the risk to the follower that they are essentially ‘glorified marketing’. This is the ‘cheap talk’ risk to the follower that is on par with exploitative marketing efforts in commercial enterprises or the self-serving propaganda efforts of political organizations (Ellsbach & Sutton 1992; Aldrich & Fiol 1994; Meyer & Rowan 1991; Mish & Scammon 2010). Opportunistic political organizations that do not require the long term commitment of the masses or can count on a lack of information transparency when dealing with the masses, can and have manipulated this layer of actions to ‘talk a good game’ but not follow it up with costlier actions that deliver on the promises made at this level (Snyder & Ballantine 1996, Bob 2005). In contrast, organizations that depend on the trust and support of the masses for the conduct of their political or commercial activity need to ensure that the social deposits they make at the ‘Mission, Vision & Values’ layer align with the ‘Outputs’ and ‘Methods of Operation’ layers of their web of social deposits over time. This discursive layer of social deposits acts as a constraint on the other layers – the organization needs to ‘walk its talk’ or else risk weakening or destroying the power of its discursive layer of actions.

Consistent with the ‘legitimation via fair process’[38],[39] school of thought (Hurd 2007, Barnett & Finnemore 1999; Zelditch 2001), the ‘Methods of Operations’ lever of action reveals the manner in which the organization goes about its business. Since it is not always possible for followers to assess fairness in outcomes in a timely manner, the ‘fairness in process’ component potentially provides a more timely input to the followers to assess the degree to which the organization is moving towards mitigating its greatest fears of exploitation by the organization. There are four primary foci for social deposits to build legitimacy with regard to the methods of operations that will be evaluated in this research. Some are positive in nature (i.e., presence) and some are negative (i.e., absence): 1.) absence of the use of violence to coerce followers/constituents to gain their commitment to the organization’s political/ideological agenda or to persuade them to be loyal to the organization[40]; 2.) freedom from cooptation by sponsors (national loyalty and autonomy); 3.) level of public accountability (focus on the answerability to the public and an institutional web to enforce accountability from a variety of perspectives); 4.) level of professionalism (efficiency, fairness and innovativeness in leadership, administration and operations).

The ‘Outputs’ lever of action consists of the specific social goods that the organization delivers. This component of the social deposits framework builds on the ‘fairness in outcomes’ perspective[41] on the sources of legitimacy (Hurd 2007; Barnett and Finnemore 1999; Zelditch 2001). In the case of an insurgency it could include physical goods such as security, social services (e.g., health and welfare, education, reconstruction, financial assistance), and financial assistance. It is important to note, however, that the ‘Outputs’ category could also include less tangible social goods as well. A ‘sense of political and social order’ is an example of a less tangible social good as well as ‘a sense of pride that comes from successfully resisting the enemy’. These are empirically more problematic for the analyst but they potentially represent substantive deliverables in the eyes of some of the followers and might provide explanatory power for how different followers see the payoff for support of the particular organization.

Case Analysis: Hezbollah
Background and Introduction to the Case

Hezbollah (the Party of God) has been cited as the single most powerful political organization in Lebanon.[42] Their role in the recent toppling of the Saad Harirri-led government in Lebanon has only burnished their image as the most powerful single political actor in Lebanon.[43] What is most remarkable is that they emerged from political anonymity in 1982 in the midst of a devastating Lebanese civil war that was already 7 years old and in the wake of a second Israeli invasion in the summer of 1982. The Israeli invasion was the second within four years and it was designed to destroy the PLO strongholds in southern Lebanon and create strategic depth for Israel. Simply to be born, Hezbollah needed to overcome a powerful collection of incumbent militias and political organizations in all of the major confessions that were well-armed and built on established patronage systems. While it was led by a powerful set of committed leaders, it would get help from ‘friends’ early on its organizational life.

Following Israel’s decimation of Syrian and Palestinian forces in southern Lebanon in the summer of 1982, Iran inserted an estimated 1500 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps troops (IRGC) into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley with the cooperation of Syria. These troops were to be used to train the nascent Hezbollah forces that had only just been formed from splinters from Amal, the Lebanese Dawa party, the Association of Muslim Ulema and the Association of Muslim Students (Byman 2007: 32, Ranstorp 1997: 31-35; Palmer-Harik 2004:34 – 39; Norton 1999: 23-24). At the time Amalwas the most powerful Shia group in Lebanon and the product of a beloved Shia leader, Musa al Sadr, who had allegedly been murdered by the Libyans (Ajami 1986). Amal was firmly entrenched in the south of Lebanon and was seen as the protectors of the Shia from the banditry of the PLO who had taken root there since their eviction from Jordan in 1971.

These IRGC troops would train the Hezbollah fighters (estimated at no more than 500 full time forces at the time) in the political ideology of Islam and the fighting methods of the elite IRGC. This training would be reinforced by an estimated $50 to $100 million in annual support for Hezbollah’s military and political mobilization operations (Byman 2005; Ranstorp 1997; Levitt 2005). Hezbollah leadership acknowledged that the Iranian support accelerated the development of their movement by 50 years (Saad-Ghorayeb 2002: 14). Their social welfare network has rivaled or exceeded the abilities of the Lebanese government as it relates to important social services (e.g.,education, medical care and financial aid and trash collection).[44]

In contrast to the extremist Sunni religious imperatives, the Shi’ite religious model on which Hezbollah operates is substantively different. It is true that at the intellectual core of Hezbollah is a clear commitment to the greater Islamic umma: “Underlying the utopian Mahdist state envisaged by Hezbollah and the concept of the Wilayat al-Faqih, to which it is firmly committed, is the concept of Islamic universalism.”[45] But Hezbollah takes a more pluralistic approach to living among Muslims and non-Muslims (perhaps a simple concession to the nature of Lebanese politics). They have not translated their religious and world views in the manner of the Egyptian writer, Sayyid Qutb, as Al Qaeda has done and made the struggle an ‘us against them’ contest. In their strict reading of the Koran and the hadith, it is not necessary to coerce anyone to be a Muslim and it is acceptable to engage in government of a country that is not Islamic. A core concept of Hezbollah is that oppression is what is wrong with the world – regardless of religion. “The only religious obligation upon the Party is that it actively pursues justice, regardless of whether or not this culminates in the creation of an Islamic state.”[46]

The “independence intifadah” that erupted in the aftermath of the Hariri assassination in 2005 demonstrated the enormous political power that Hezbollah commands as well as that of the less-well-organized opposition forces. While Hezbollah does not represent all of the Shi’a or all of the dispossessed, supporters and detractors claim that they are the most well-organized political party in Lebanon today. They have a strong pedigree in the revolutionary politics of modern Lebanon and have successfully competed for election at the national and local level since 1992 – even in communities that are not Hezbollah or Shi’a strongholds (Palmer-Harik 2004).Up until the downfall of the most recent government led by SaadHarirri, Hezbollah held two cabinet positions and, with its Christian allies, fronted a strong opposition movement to sitting government. The Shi’a movement that they were founded on was the catalyst for the transformation of Lebanese politics that gave a powerful voice to the dispossessed (essentially the Shi’a in the 1960’s) and set the stage for Lebanon to move beyond the dysfunctional patronage system that pervaded their political system prior to this period.[47]

Hezbollah is also a lethal military force capable of inflicting serious harm on enemies as powerful as the conventionally superior Israeli military.[48] The outcome of the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel is generally viewed as favoring the Lebanese insurgency in that they were not annihilated, let alone routed, as the Israelis and US government had hoped would be the case (Harel & Issacharoff 2008, Biddle & Freeman 2008, Exum 2006). They are viewed as patriotic to Lebanon,[49] virtually incorruptible and willing to suffer enormous personal loss to fight for their political goals – the primary goal being self-determination for all Lebanese.

The U.S. government’s official position on Lebanese Hezbollah,[50] however, sees the group as a terrorist organization that is virulently anti-American and that has joined forces with Syria and Iran to destabilize the region and threaten Israel directly or indirectly through support for radical Islamic Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hezbollah is infamous in the U.S. for the 1983 suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed over 280 Marines, the bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Lebanon as well as the hostage crises of the late 1980s. The U.S. has consistently taken the position that Hezbollah should suffer the same fate as groups such as Al Qaeda as part of its global war on terror in the post 9/11 world. The UN Security Council has issued UNSCR 1559 in 2004 which demanded the disarmament of Hezbollah and the dismantling of any military apparatus that the group may operate directly or indirectly.

The U.S. (and Israel), however, has generally been alone in this more harsh view of Hezbollah. Most of the EU powers – particularly France – as well as the majority of Arab nations[51] believe that Hezbollah is a legitimate national resistance movement and that it is vital to the security of Lebanon.[52] France has argued consistently that Hezbollah is not a terrorist organization and that, in any event, it is a matter for the Lebanese to sort out – not meddling foreign powers and especially not ‘crusading’ Americans.

Events to Study

An important element of the discussion about resilience is the concept of a shock. Shocks are the triggering events that test an organization’s resilience. It is important to frame them properly at the outset to ensure that consistency in comparison across the cases and to generate initial hypotheses about the impact of the type of shock on the resilience of an organization. I have constructed a framework to locate the salient aspects of shocks for selecting events across the cases and around which I will be measuring organizational resilience. For purposes of this research, shocks have three major dimensions: 1.) Time; 2.) Nature; and 3.) Type.

With regards to time, shocks to an organization can occur in two basic time frames: abrupt events that create a crisis for the organization in a very compact time frame (days or weeks); and, a slower form of cumulative stressors (months or years) that may or may not evoke a response from the organization to redress the change in their environment (Hwang & Lichtenthal 1999). For purposes of this research, I am limiting the shocks to the abrupt time frame.

With regards to the nature of the shock I am adopting the scheme used by Ashforth and Gibbs (1990) and isolating the nature of the challenge that the shock represents to the organization into two categories: Performance-oriented challenges that are based on the belief that the organization has failed to achieve its goals and/or its mission; and, Values-oriented challenges that are based on the belief that the organization’s very mission is at issue regardless of how well it is positioned to achieve its goals.

The third and final component of the framework to select and analyze the shock is its type. I will draw on Weinstein’s (2006) scheme for his research on the organization of rebellion: 1.) major loss on the battlefield; 2.) loss of a major sponsor’s financial or political support; 3.) pending victory; and, 4.) repressive action by the state (or a foreign occupier).

See table below for a graphic depiction of the scheme that I will use for framing a shock to be analyzed for each of the organizations to be studied. I will discuss the details of the events selected for each case in the subsequent chapters.

Table II-1: Scheme for Framing a Shock

As noted by the red highlighting in the above table I propose focus on events that are abrupt in timing, can be either a performance or values challenge and are only a battlefield loss or a pending victory type of event.

Specific Shocks to be Studied in the Hezbollah Case

The values challenge shock that will be studied for the Hezbollah case will be the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon that occurred in May 2000. The performance challenge that will be studied will be the Summer 2006 war between Hezbollah and the IDF. These cases represent substantial abrupt shocks to Hezbollah in that they credibly put the continuity of the organization in doubt at least for a period of time either during the crisis (the 2006 War, battlefield losses)[53] or subsequent to the crisis (the IDF Withdrawal in 2000, pending victory).

International and Regional Context for Events

The two events selected occurred in the context of a variety of major regional and international events that possibly influenced the flow of the legitimation dynamicsof Hezbollah. The events that I have highlighted relative to the IDF Withdrawal Event in 2000 are outlined below. They include wars in the region, the launch of the GWOT and major leadership changes of Hezbollah’s two primary sponsoring states. I have included the US war in Iraq in this slate even though it began almost 3 years after the IDF withdrawal since the rumors of war and UN activity prior to the war were commonplace in the 2002 time window. The US war in Iraq spans both events since the US policies and actions are major part of Hezbollah’s resistance and refusal political platform. The case analysis will account for these major events to the extent they play into the legitimation dynamics of the organization.

Assessment of Organizational Strength of Hezbollah – IDF Withdrawal Event

As noted earlier, organizational strength consists of four basic components: 1.) political strength, 2.) military strength, 3.) economic strength; and, 4.) durability and size of followership. We will discuss each component in turn and present observations within 2 years prior to and subsequent to the event being studied.

Political Strength – Prior to IDF Withdrawal in May 2000

There are four basic elements of political strength that I will focus on to assess the relative political strength of the organization under study: a.) popular support, b.) geographic scope of influence, c.) alliances; and d.) perceptions of political rivals.

The popular support of the organization can be measured by polls and survey results(if available) and, if any, competitive elections at the local or national level. Popular support includes evidence of mass support in the form of rallies or compliance with requests for civil disobedience by the followers that are used as a forum to protest government actions or appeal for reforms in general. All of these indicators are flawed in that it is generally extremely difficult empirically to discern selective incentives (e.g., payments) or acts of coercion that may lie underneath these public acts. As a result, these data need to be triangulated to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that the acts represent the actual support of the followers.

A key event to consider in the assessment of Hezbollah’s political strength within two years of the IDF withdrawal in 2000 is the 1998 municipal elections in Lebanon. These elections are intriguing for a variety of reasons including it was the first time Islamic groups of any kind participated at the local level and given the autonomy of the local municipalities in the Lebanese political environment (weaker central government) these elections represent a test of the group’s ability to convert their works of social justice at the local level (e.g., sanitary water projects, health care, construction/reconstruction) into tangible political power (Hamzeh 2000). “By providing social services, Hezbollah and the Jama’ah, for example, were ableto bypass the politics of patronage and to overcome this particular feature ofLebanese politics. As a result they boosted the size of their constituency andwere able to perform well in local elections” (Hamzeh 2000:741). These elections are detailed in a variety of sources (Palmer-Harik 2004, Hamzeh 2000) and reveal the emerging but clearly limited ability of Hezbollah party members to consolidate political power in Lebanon. Hezbollah had to submit to competing for 3 of 24 seats on the list[54] led by RafikHarriri in Beirut – a compromise that frustrated Hezbollah leadership but one that they compromised and acceded to nonetheless. Hezbollah dominated the 1998 municipal elections in the southern suburbs of Beirut (their traditional stronghold) and shut out Amal, its closest rival for Shia community domination in Lebanon.

The local political battle that would demonstrate the emergence of Hezbollah as a broader-based political phenomenon in this era, however, was to take place in the 1998 municipal elections in the South. This region had traditionally been an Amal stronghold given its role in the protection of the Shia from the PLO banditry of the 1970s and early 1980’s and its more limited role in resistance to Israel and the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA) following the IDF invasion in 1982. In addition, the South consists of a significantly more varied collection of beliefs about the need for and compliance with the asceticism of a group such as Hezbollah.[55] While Hezbollah would take only 122 seats (Palmer-Harik 2004:107)to Amal’s 231 in that election, Hamzeh (2000) notes that “Hezbollah proved that it is now a potent threat to Amal in its stronghold.”

The other major venue for intra-Shia political competition was in the Bekaa valley in the north. Hezbollah’s ability to dominate what should have been a stronghold for the organization was limited by suspicions in the Sunni community that its presence would degrade the region’s tourism business and the lingering effects of its dispute with Tufayli (Alagha 2006:288) and his group, Ansar Allah,[56] that had split off from Hezbollah in 1997. Hezbollah demonstrated sound organizational skills in mobilizing its political efforts at the grass roots but it clearly misunderstood the desire in some locations for greater freedom of action (i.e., lifestyle and governance) by the governed.

The geographic scope of influence of the party as evidenced by its successes and failures in the 1998 elections depicts a surprising set of cross cutting trends. In the hotly contested South, Hezbollah won in certain towns that were historically Amal strongholds (e.g., Nabatiyeh) but lost in towns that were home to prominent Hezbollah leaders (e.g., Kfarfila that is home to Qassem).

“[T]he geographical change of this duality indicates that the size of Hezbollah’s electorate has expanded from Nabatiyyeh down to some coastal villages. On the other hand, the party’s popularity shrank in frontline towns and villages, which were once considered Hezbollah’s main strongholds . This new geographical distribution demonstrates that Hezbollah was surprisingly unaware of the local realities in the south. The party, which possesses the most sophisticated military capability in fighting the Israeli occupation, had misjudged the needs of the people. Otherthan their need for social welfare services, the people wanted more freedom:
over their daily activities. Such freedom was better understood by Berri than Hezbollah, who backed lists of families in these frontline villages at the expense of Amal. As a result of this new political geographic map, one is tempted to hypothesise that the farther the people from the battle zone, the higher the popularity of Hezbollah (southern suburbs, Hermel district); the closer to the battle zone, the lower the party’s popularity (e.g., Jaba’, AinQana, Kafra, Yater, Shakra).” (Hamzeh 2000:754)

While the results of this election demonstrates limits on the popular support for Hezbollah, it reveals a growing sense that its resistance mission and social services are able to be translated into local political power in regions that were once dominated by other Shia parties. It also clearly demonstrates the distinct boundaries of the movement as well and the counter intuitive impact of the role of the resistance on political solidarity with the organization. Where Sunnis and Christians tended to be the majority population, Hezbollah had little ability to upset that balance of power. They were largely in a pitched battle with the Shia dominated portions of the country or, as in Beirut, a rider of coattails of the stronger confessional group/political bosses.

With respect to political alliances as evidence of political strength within the two-year period prior to the IDF withdrawal, it tended to be limited to the types of alliances that were more opportunistic in order to build an electable list of candidates in the municipal elections. Beyond that Hezbollah tended to focus on a broader series of messaging and symbolic acts to demonstrate solidarity – mostly ideologically – across confessional lines with the Christian community and also within the broader Islamic community of Sunnis and Shia. This did not result in tangible political alliances in this period but reveals its political and ideological instincts with respect to broadening the overall credibility of the organization beyond its more parochial and violent roots.For example, Hezbollah articulated a policy of opening up (i.e., infitah) in the 1991 in the wake of its official acceptance in Lebanon as a resistance movement and the lone civil war era militia that was permitted to remain armed. The opening up presaged their more pluralistic approach to politics and, in fact, its acceptance of participation in the political system that it had previously vigorously disparaged as ‘rotten’. This policy primarily focused on its opening with the historically dominant Christian community but ultimately dovetailed with its even broader and more fundamental goal of unity of the Ummah (Qassem 2005). In this period, Hezbollah notably positioned itself as a supporter of the Palestinian cause for self-determination that came to be known as the ‘Jerusalem liberation’ culture (Hamzeh 2004:39).[57]

The political rivals of Hezbollah generally perceived Hezbollah as emerging as an able political operator, a pragmatic political organization that was learning how to move beyond its principally military reputation to appeal to an even broader audience, and one that appeared autonomous (enough) so that it was committed to Lebanon first even though it relied heavily on foreign sponsors. Hezbollah’s ability to field strong mid level leaders as a candidates demonstrated the depth and competence of its political operation in sharp contrast to the functionaries that Amal tended to offer. Palmer-Harik notes that an Amal member related to her in the aftermath of the 1998 election, that “All the assistance that they (Hezbollah) get from Iran wouldn’t mean a thing if they didn’t know how to make it work for them” (Palmer-Harik 2004: 109). Hezbollah was savvy in that they knew when to compromise and include Communists and social democrats on their lists when it served their interests. Politics was ‘utilitarian for them’ as Hamzeh has noted.

In regards to Hezbollah’s political strength prior to the IDF 2000 event, I would classify Hezbollah’s political strength as emergent. They had not consolidated their power outside Bekaa and the southern suburbs of Beirut, their alliances were opportunistic in nature and hardly enduring at that point. The political support from major sponsors was still present (i.e., Iran and Syria) but more tenuous than earlier in the decade. The financial flows reportedly declined from Iran during this period due to the change in leadership in Iran and the change in its strategic interests (Byman 2005, Hamzeh 2000). Syria was cooling in its ardor for Hezbollah given the potential for a peace deal with Israel.[58] It was in the process of attempting to negotiate its own land-for-peace deal with Israel though it ultimately collapsed in late 1999. It was not clear that an Islamist armed group fit into the long-term plans of Syria. It was also equally unclear that Iran wanted to continue to be seen aiding a group that was branded as a terrorist group by the US and some western powers (and Saudi Arabia) as Iran sought full membership and favorable trading and diplomatic status in the international community (Wright 2010, Takeyh 2009).

Military Strength – Prior to IDF Withdrawal in May 2000

There are three basic elements of military strength that I will focus on to assess the relative political strength of the organization under study: a.) nature and extent of military operations, b.) nature and extent of military firepower; and, c.) perceptions of military rivals. To begin to understand the military strength within the two-year period prior to the IDF withdrawal, it is useful to understand the basic change in the nature and tempo of operations conducted by Hezbollah in the post-Taif period.

Hezbollah’s targeting choices changed in this period. The state of Israel now became a prime target mostly through rocket attacks on civilians in northern Israel. Typical guerilla operations became more prominent as Hezbollah’s area of operations became more secure (Hamzeh 2004: 86-88). Attacks on IDF and SLA forces, via improvised explosive devices (IEDs), were the most common operation during this period (30% of incidents per START database.)[59] The use of the suicide terror tactic declined considerably (less than 10% of the levels used in the pre-Ta’if period) as the IDF retreated to its security zone in the south.[60]

Many analysts would describe Hezbollah during this period as predominantly a guerilla force (Byman 2005, 2007;Kuperman 2006, Hamzeh 2004). That is, they leveraged their ‘local support, a secure geographic base, distributed military organizational structures and mobility’ to engage the enemy on terms most favorable to Hezbollah. During this period the relative loss ratios declined from the peak of 5:1 prior to 1990 in favor of the IDF and SLA to approximately 2:1 or less (Byman 2005:30 and Hamzeh 2004: 94). Hezbollah was learning how to fight a militarily superior foe on more favorable terms. It was innovating in order to survive but also to harm the enemy in new ways.Hezbollah’s overhauled operating tactics (e.g., more local autonomy, improved logistics and specialized weapons and explosives skills) substantially reduced its casualties and increased its effectiveness against IDF and SLA forces (Byman 2005:110-112). Merom (2003) speaks of the difficulty that militarily superior democracies have in unleashing their full fury against its weaker enemies. Israel held little back in Accountability (1993) and Grapes of Wrath (1996) and it triggered the effect that Merom speaks of when the ‘war gets dirty’ (Merom 2003:23). The domestic polity in Israel was horrified at the carnage and increasingly sought opportunities to end the conflict (especially when the carnage of the bombing of the UN facility in Cana was made public). In Lebanon the commitment to resistance only stiffened.[61]

To limit the carnage on the civilians on both sides in this increasingly bloody war, in 1996 Hezbollah and the IDF agreed to abide by a ‘set of rules’ to limit the conduct of military operations (Norton 1999, Kuperman 2006). This arrangement ultimately played to Hezbollah’s strengths as guerilla fighters since this arrangement contained many of the strengths of the IDF (e.g., standoff artillery and related weapons, air power), little or none of which Hezbollah had in this period. Hezbollah’s conversion from a predominantly terrorist operation to a guerilla operation in this period enabled it to fight its enemies more effectively and efficiently.

Hamzeh (2004:90) notes that Hezbollah dramatically ramped up its military activity in 1999. It became the “year of the resistance par excellence.” According to Hamzeh (2004:90-91) Hezbollah carried out over 1500 military operations against the IDF and the SLA in 1999 alone and was by far the single most active resistance group (63% of all operations identified). The 1528 military operations conducted in 1999 represent 25% of all military operations against the SLA and the IDF for Hezbollah since 1985. Hezbollah clearly sensed the time was right to intensify the attack on the SLA and the IDF given Ehud Barak’s stated intentions in early 1999 to withdraw from Lebanon in coming year.[62]

The firepower of Hezbollah in the late 1990s primarily consisted of small arms complemented by Katyusha rockets, IEDs and short-range artillery based on the records of Hezbollah (Hamzeh 2004:91). The firepower of the organization in this period was relatively limited and consistent with relatively close quarters combat. There were clearly instances of rockets attacks and artillery shelling into northern Israel that occurred (approximately 265 of these events in 1999 alone) but Hezbollah had limited ability to strike deep into Israel and therefore had only limited deterrence capability from the standpoint of its intrinsic firepower. Hezbollah had, at best, an ability to offer limited harassing fire against IDF and SLA positions in Lebanon and very limited ability to threaten Israeli territory directly at this time.

Hezbollah demonstrated resolve, innovation in tactics, and a surprising efficiency and effectiveness on the battlefield in southern Lebanon. The IDF was being worn down, or at least the politicians and citizens of Israel were being worn down by a war that ceased making sense long before 2000. Byman (2007) also speaks to Hezbollah’s significantly improved intelligence and counterintelligence capabilities that thwarted the IDF and SLA’s ability to penetrate the organization as well as facilitate Hezbollah’s attacks on the IDF and SLA. A senior IDF officer is quoted in Hamzeh (2004: 94) in 1999:

“Show me a single case in history in which an army managed to occupy territory over time and defeat a guerilla organization that benefitted from a massive support and political backing from the local population. Even if unilateral withdrawal is interpreted as weakness that does not mean it ought to be ruled out. There are plenty of nations that have already done it: the Americans folded in Vietnam and the Russians ran as fast as they could from Afghanistan. We can also get out. I don’t think there is one sane Frenchman who is now sorry about withdrawing from Algeria. The truth is that there isn’t a whole lot the IDF can do against Hezbollah.”

In summary, the military strength of Hezbollah within the two years prior to the IDF withdrawal is classified as a sound guerilla organization. It had made major improvements in effectiveness and efficiency since its inception in 1982 but it still operated as a harassing force that sought to attrite the IDF and SLA forces and provide a delaying force against the IDF and SLA. Hezbollah did not offer much in the way of deterrence given its limited arsenal but its dogged persistence and growing political support enabled it to provide sufficient resistance over the long term against its enemies.

Economic Strength – Prior to IDF Withdrawal in May 2000

There are three basic elements that I will focus on to gauge the economic strength of the organization: a.) scope and extent of contributions from major sponsors; and, b.) scope and extent of contributions from other sources; c.) ability to generate income from operations (non-military but potentially criminal in nature).[63] In virtually every account of the financial condition of Hezbollah, the financial sponsorship of Iran plays a prominent role. Reports of Iran’s annual contributions to Hezbollah vary from tens of millions (Palmer-Harik 2004) to a $100 million or more (Byman 2005, 2007; Hamzeh 2004). Nasrallah has publicly acknowledged that Iran’s support has accelerated the development of Hezbollah by 50 years. The actual mechanism of collection and disbursement for the support has come through the charitable contributions network of Iran and also in Lebanon and thus has acted as a buffer on the ability of the President of Iran to significantly affect the level of financial support. For example, especially during the Khatami Presidencies (1997 to 2005), there was evidence to suggest that the strategic interests of Iran would be better served by distancing itself from support for Hezbollah (Wright 2010, Takeyh 2009, Byman 2005). Based on the vibrant flow of public services through Hezbollah to the needy Shia during the late 1990s, however, it would appear that the level of funding was as robust as ever. Hamzeh (2000, 2004), Palmer-Harik and Saad-Ghorayeb (2001) lay out a strong case that the levels of social services were operating at all time highs in the history of the movement at that time.

Syria is also consistently identified as a major sponsor of Hezbollah but largely as a collaborator with Iran to safely transit arms and other military or social service supplies so as to minimize the ability of the IDF or UNIFIL to interdict resupply of Hezbollah. The nature of Syria’s financial support is difficult to discern and most analysts have generally concluded that is nominal at best.

There were other sources of income for Hezbollah at the time including charitable contributions from the members, wealthy sympathizers both inside Lebanon and the diasporas and to a far lesser extent, fees from services provided for education, health care and other social services. Volunteer labor is also a key source of contribution in-kind (Deeb 2006a) to drive the social services. Paid staff in these NGOs can range anywhere from 1 in 10 to 2 in 10 (Deeb 2006a).[64] Hezbollah clearly believes that ‘faith moves mountains’ and that is pays politically in the long run.There are a variety of NGOs that Hezbollah operates to channel alms and donations to the needy.[65] In addition, Hezbollah had accumulated enough investment capital to invest in supermarkets (cooperative), real estate, Islamic banking and other business ventures (Jaber 1997:150-153). Furthermore, while far from conclusive, it appeared that Hezbollah was involved in the criminal activities in the US and South America to raise millions of dollars from the sale of illegal cigarettes and possible narcotics (Levitt 2005).[66] Regardless of the truth of these claims, Iran was the predominant source of capital for Hezbollah at this time to be able to deliver on its social justice agenda and to arms itself to execute its resistance mission.

In summary, the economic health of Hezbollah at this stage is robust and stable for an organization that is in its growth stage (Miller & Friesen 1984; Drazin & Kazanjian 1990). The signs of a financially sound organization were evident in the level of overall activity in the organization. The level of military activity was highly active as noted previously and the social services tempo was upward trending in all facets of the Hezbollah social justice agenda.

Durability Factors – Prior to IDF Withdrawal in May 2000

There are three basic elements of durability factors that I will focus on to assess the relative durability of the organization under study: a.) years in continuous operation, b.) size of the organization (followers);and, c.) coherence of the organization.

Hezbollah had been in continuous operation since 1982 and thus conducted its 17th and 18th years of operation prior to the IDF withdrawal. Hezbollah experienced a tumultuous first three years of start up that one of its founding members (Shayk Subhi Tufayli) described these first few years as the ‘scuffle of camels’ to connote a confused and strange mix of leaders who had often conflicting views on how to go about the general mission of a truly Islamic movement that would compel the transformation of not only Lebanon but the region as well (Hamzeh 2004: 24, Byman 2007). Tufayli was the first Secretary General but profound differences appeared relatively early and, following the appointment of Abbas Mussawi to the Secretary General in 1992 and Hezbollah’s decision to participate in national elections in that same year, Tufayli effectively split from Hezbollah and formed a competitive group known as Ansar Allah. Tufayli was formally dismissed from Hezbollah in 1998 and, by then, had retreated to the relative protection of his hometown in the Bekaa valley.

In an attempt to accommodate the growing community of sympathizers of Hezbollah that wanted to actively participate in the resistance mission, Hezbollah formed the Lebanese Resistance Brigades in 1997. Qassem (2005) speaks to the need for the movement to include those who are committed to the resistance mission yet are not committed to the ascetic Islamic lifestyle that core members lead who are pious Shii (Deeb 2006a, Qassem 2005, Saad-Ghorayeb 2001). Qassem (2005:121-123) is careful to point out that the Lebanese Resistance Brigades consisted generally of males over 20 years old and represented a multisectarian cross section of Lebanese society. Hezbollah was keen to correlate this to the broad appeal of the resistance mission at the time and Hezbollah’s nationalistic bona fides. Regardless of the political implications, Hezbollah needed to manage this new influx of talent in way that minimized any hint of a second class set of citizens, diluted the core members commitment to Islam and jihad and a more universal set of claims regarding Islam; and, finally, did not connote that these persons were more expendable by putting them unduly in harm’s way. It was a non-trivial management effort to incorporate these volunteers into what was generally a fairly rigorous organization to join.

Within the two years prior to the IDF withdrawal, Hezbollah had approximately 15000 members including 1000 to 5000 armed combatants (Hamzeh 1997, 2004; Norton 1991). This scale placed Hezbollah as one of the largest Islamic political organizations operating in the country at the time. Based on work by Palmer-Harik (1996), the followers of Hezbollah cut across all major socio-economic classes within the Shia community.

At this stage of the organization’s life it appeared to be coherent and growing on a sound organizational foundation. Hezbollah had achieved a reasonably impressive level of membership and had overcome a major break with one of its founders.

Political Strength – Post IDF Withdrawal in May 2000

There are four basic elements of political strength that I will focus on to assess the relative political strength of the organization under study: a.) popular support, b.) geographic scope of influence, c.) alliances; and d.) perceptions of political rivals.

With the death of Hafez al Assad, the powerful leader of Syria, and transition of power to his politically untested son, Bashir, Hezbollah enjoyed a unique open field to contest for parliamentary seats in the fall of 2000. In the wake of the IDF withdrawal and Nasrallah’s ‘divine victory’ speech (Noe 2007:233-243), Hezbollah was well-positioned to increase its official political power in the national elections in the regions where Shii were allocated seats in the Parliament. Iran, however, was concerned about intra-Shia rivalry and imposed on Hezbollah to be collaborative with Amal to minimize the ability of foreign powers to divide the bloc of voters in the Shia confession (Hamzeh 2004:116). In contrast, a weakened Syria was seen as pitting Amal and the dismissed Tufayli as counterweights to Hezbollah’s rising power (ICG Report: Old Game, New Rules – 18 Nov. 2002). The 2000 national elections demonstrated that Hezbollah had increased its political strength in the South at the expense of Amal though it still required a variety of composite lists (with clan chiefs of the more powerful families) to do so. Their political geographic footprint was still generally limited to the South, Bekaa and the southern suburbs of Beirut. Furthermore, the combined forces of Amal and Hezbollah did not account for more than 60% of the total Shii vote.[67]

Another major international event – the attacks on the U.S. by Al Qaeda on September 11, 2001, triggered an international backlash on all prominent organizations that could be construed to be global terrorist threats. Hezbollah was targeted – admittedly to differing degrees – by major Western powers for disarmament. To get a sense for Hezbollah’s political support in the post IDF withdrawal period, it is instructive to review the reaction of various Lebanese factions to the way in which Hezbollah should be handled.

The Supreme Leader of Hezbollah since 1992, Hassan Sayyed Nasrallah, had publicly claimed a victory on behalf of all Lebanese (Noe 2007) on May 26, 2000 and appropriately was inclusive of all groups who fought from all confessions – he framed it as a Lebanese victory and an example for the Palestinians to follow.[68] This was arguably the first time an Arab army was able to compel Israel to yield territory it occupied by force. Though military operations continued they were nominal compared to the operating levels that Hezbollah was conducting prior to the Israeli withdrawal. The immediate threat from the IDF was withdrawn and Lebanon could proceed with its recovery from civil war and war with Israel.

On the heels of the 9/11 catastrophe in the U.S., President Bush mobilized a global effort to declare war on terror (GWOT). The UN Security Council passed a Resolution that obligated the entire UN community to do all in its power to shut down terrorist organizations in its jurisdiction – not just military or police action but also to interdict financial flows that might be related to suspicious organizations or persons. Lebanon and Hezbollah were early targets.

“The first tangible step came soon later, when US President George Bush announced a list of individuals and organizations to be targeted – which included some Lebanese names…On Sept. 28, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1373, and followed it up a month later with the practical mechanisms necessary for its implementation. This coincided with new FATF (Financial Action Task Force) guidelines…Resolution 1373 was no ordinary resolution; it was passed under Article 7 of the UN Charter, making its implementation obligatory on all 189 UN member states. The resolution demands that all states prohibit all terrorist activity, sequester funds belonging to those accused of terrorism, and freeze the assets of all those committing, trying to commit, taking part in, and facilitating acts of terrorism.” (Daily Star, November 10, 2001; Joseph Samaha)

Hezbollah was an early target especially after it rebuffed attempts by the U.S. government to ply the organization with a set of incentives[69] (e.g., financial aid, political recognition by the U.S.) to cease its military operations towards Israel and to cooperate with U.S. intelligence to undermine various terrorist operations it may be aware of (Noe 2007:256-262; Daily Star, November 17, 2001). A cross-section of Lebanese political leadership were staunchly opposed to compliance with the FATF requirements to freeze Hezbollah (and Nasrallah’s) financial assets and labeling the organization a terrorist organization – effectively black listing the group and de-legitimizing it as a political actor in Lebanon and the region. Nasrallah was vocal in his opposition, which was to be expected (Noe 2007: 256-263). But Hezbollah received support from a wide cross-section of the political leaders in Lebanese society:

“The major impediments to compliance are political…Beirut is not prepared even to contemplate naming Hizbullah as a terrorist organization. This position, moreover, is supported by the majority of Lebanese as we all as by many Arab countries. A confrontation with the US is therefore inevitable, if the Americans insist on widening the scope of their war on terror to include Hizbullah.” (Daily Star, November 10, 2001; Joseph Samaha)

“Meanwhile, Industry Minister George Frem said that the country's attitude toward Hizbullah was clear. In an interview with the LBCI TV station on Thursday, the minister said that the government, despite its friendship with Washington, 'supports the resistance.'” (Daily Star, November 17, 2001)

Beyond this support from the political elite, even their estranged and often critical (of Hezbollah) spiritual mentor, AyataollahFadlallah joined in the public chorus to stand strong in favor of Hezbollah as a legitimate political actor and argued for a broad, vocal and firm Arab (i.e., regional) response to perceived intrusions by the US on the sovereignty of Lebanon and the region:

Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah on Wednesday described Washington's latest repudiation of Hizbullah as “state-sponsored terrorism,” and called for an Arab response “consisting of more than just words.”In a statement, the cleric said that “everyone knows that the United States has granted itself an open mandate to launch a war on anyone and any state within the framework of combating international terrorism.” He lashed out at the US administration for “assuming the responsibility of waving the stick at any state group engaged in liberation activity.” (Daily Star, November 8. 2001)

Hezbollah’s leadership (in this case, Nasrallah’s deputy, Qassem) was clearly pleased with the support it received from a broad cross-section of Lebanese elites and its constituents. Hezbollah emphasized its Resistance mandate on a social justice level (i.e., combating oppression and deprivation) versus the use of force to resist Israeli and Western aggression. Qassem expressed gratitude for the support Hezbollah received from the government in the international debate to de-legitimize the organization as an illegal ‘terrorist’ operator:

“Our priorities will remain unchanged and we shall continue to combat oppression and deprivation, especially in Baalbek,” he said.Qassem praised the way the state has “handled the present crisis,” referring to the international political and economic pressure currently being exerted on Lebanon, particularly from the United States. (Daily Star, November 17, 2001)

It is also important to note that French Foreign Minister Hugo Vedrine was “against pressuring Syria and Lebanon to take measures against groups that Washington(emphasis mine) says are engaged in terror.” (Daily Star, November 17, 2001) There is a long history between France, Syria and Lebanon (former colonies), and in this case, that history proved to be a useful voice in the debate about the legitimacy of Hezbollah.

While there are certainly alternative explanations for the support of erstwhile political opponents of Hezbollah (including fear of renewed civil war), the willingness to defend Hezbollah as a legitimated resistance organization in the face of significant international pressure demonstrates its increasedpolitical power beyond its natural constituency. It is also highly plausible that the strength of Hezbollah and the weakness of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) were a factor. Hezbollah’s relatively merciful treatment of the SLA forces that were captured following the IDF withdrawal, likely led some non-supporters to see them as a de facto LAF that was needed to at least provide some level of deterrence to Israel’s forces.

Israel viewed it an even stronger political force post withdrawal:

“From the outset, Hezbollah grounded itself in the Shi'ite community in Lebanon, which provided thousands of recruits and a mass constituency. For many Shi'ites in Lebanon, Hezbollah was and still is a legitimate force for social and political change. And it is true that Hezbollah today is something more than a quasi-military formation. Even were it to lay down its arms, it would continue to exist as a political and social movement.” (Zisser 2002)

In summary, Hezbollah post IDF withdrawal was a political stronger organization than it was prior to withdrawal. It demonstrated an ability to generate a national and international appeal as a resistance movement. It had not, however, demonstrated any new abilities to build alliances outside of the opportunistic ones needed to produce a winning list in elections. The international political pressure from 9/11, however, demonstrated that its appeal politically within Lebanon crossed sectarian lines and became stronger within theShia confession – conditioned on its sharp focus on resistance to Israel. The fruits of its support for the Palestinian intifada and the Jerusalem liberation culture had not yet shown any demonstrable payoffs in alliancesbut it demonstrated Hezbollah’s political savvy to invest in those relationships (more about potential than actual strength).

Military Strength – Post IDF Withdrawal in May 2000

There are three basic elements of military strength that I will focus on to assess the relative political strength of the organization under study: a.) nature and extent of military operations, b.) nature and extent of military firepower; and, c.) perceptions of military rivals.

In the two year period following the IDF withdrawal, the operational tempo of Hezbollah dramatically changed. In contrast to the furious military combat activity in 1999 which was designed to accelerate the Israeli/SLA withdrawal, the activity level dropped to below 20 missions (Hamzeh 2004, START database). The Shebaa Farms became the primary focal point for active combat operations and they were significantly more limited in scope than the period prior to the IDF withdrawal. In addition, there were a few kidnapping missions targeting IDF personnel (mixed success) that were designed to be used as bargaining chips to enable Hezbollah to deliver on its promise of ‘bringing the prisoners and remains of the martyrs home.’ In many respects, Hezbollah was changing its military footing from a guerilla-oriented footing with persistent harassment of fixed enemy positions in the South to a deterrence-oriented footing (ICG Middle East Report, No. 7 – pp. 15-16; ICG - Old Games, New Rules: 18 Nov 2002) that was designed to intimidate Israel from even attempting another invasion. The change to a more resistance-by-deterrence approach produced mixed results politically since it was not as effective a means to demonstrate Hezbollah’s military power. “Hezbollah’s deterrence strategy was less compelling than its active resistance strategy since it did not involve visible demonstrations of its military power - deterrence is designed to persuade an enemy not to use force based on the calculation that it will be severely punished or be defeated if it acts” (Reenders 2006; ICG - Old Games, New Rules: 18 Nov 2002).

During this period the second Palestinian intifada began (September 2000). Hezbollah reportedly became an active military trainer and arms supplier (or at least a conduit for military supplies) to the Palestinian forces engaged with the uprising in Gaza (Byman 2005, ICG Middle East Report No. 7, Zisser 2002). Clearly the fact that Hezbollah did not have a substantial occupying force to contend with was a factor but it is notable that the organization had enough capacity militarily, administratively and from a leadership standpoint to function as an exporter of revolutionary capabilities – let alone the ideological flexibility to support a Sunni group. As noted in the political strength sections above, Hezbollah had been a consistent support of a universal struggle against oppression and in particular had collaborated with Sunni groups regarding the liberation of Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories from Israeli control. Though the full extent of Hezbollah’s military buildup would not be clear until the 2006 war, it had undertaken a major build out of its defensive positions in the South along with a significant upgrade in its firepower that introduced the ability to strike deeper into Israel from protected positions in the South of Lebanon as well as considerable improvement in its anti-tank capabilities for its infantry (Biddle and Freeman 2008, Exum 2006, Deeb 2006b, Zisser 2002).

“Hezbollah has also succeeded in militarizing its territorial base. Because Israel did not wish to give Hezbollah an excuse to strike northern Israel, it has stood with folded arms while Hezbollah has built an extensive military presence along the border. This presence includes reconnaissance and surveillance positions, supported by Hezbollah troops deployed throughout southern Lebanon.Even more disturbing from Israel's point of view is a powerful arsenal that reportedly includes some10,000Katyushas and Iranian-made rockets (al-Fajr) with ranges up to 70 kilometers, covering Israel as far south as Hadera (between Haifa and Tel Aviv).Hezbollah has thus turned southern Lebanon into a kind of "Hezbollahland"—successor to the "Fatahland" that the Palestine Liberation Organization ruled until 1982 but geographically much larger. This is an area completely under Hezbollah's control that serves as its home base and from which it could ignite all-out war in the region” (Zisser 2002).

In summary, the military strength of Hezbollah within the two years following the IDF withdrawal is classified as a deterrent military organization – albeit, one that is only emerging. It had made major improvements in its defensive positions, its tactical and strategic firepower, and its military communications and intelligence. Hezbollah was free to begin the build out of what would later be revealed to be an impressive defensive fieldworks and the knowledge to conduct limited maneuvers of infantry in that region. Compared to its military strength in the pre IDF withdrawal period this was an impressive upgrade of its capabilities in this area.

Economic Strength – Post IDF Withdrawal May 2000

There are three basic elements that I will focus on to gauge the economic strength of the organization: a.) scope and extent of contributions from major sponsors; and, b.) scope and extent of contributions from other sources; c.) ability to generate income from operations (non-military but potentially criminal in nature).[70]

In the post IDF withdrawal period there is no evidence to suggest that the support from Iran (directly or through the charitable networks) declined. Most analysts continued to report the estimated $100 million annually in financial flows to Hezbollah directly or into their charitable networks. Given the substantially increased activity regarding the defense works in the South as noted above, it seems likely that the level of support (translated into cash equivalents) had increased. The sophistication of the defense build up that would be revealed in the 2006 war – e.g., the tunnels, shelters and related defensive works, intelligence and communications systems and the rocket payload and range – were all beginning in earnest at this time.

The collapse of the Syrian peace deal may have also led to increased support from Syria in the form of armament to fight its proxy wars but there is little to no firm evidence of that in the literature. Hezbollah’s criminal operations were also still in process at this time as noted in the comments on the pre-IDF withdrawal period. The level of social services, as noted in the pre-IDF withdrawal state continued at similar levels. It is noteworthy, however, that ICG reports (Old Games…; Appendix A) that the former occupied territory in the south of Lebanon had not been substantially renewed economically two years on from the withdrawal. In that sense, while the level of social services may not have declined, it was also not growing dramatically in an area that was clearly in Hezbollah’s heartland and warranted major infusions of capital to redress the damages from the occupation and related combat. The data, that I have seen, therefore, is indeterminate regarding the financial flows. If they increased due to either greater sponsor contributions or flows from their own charitable and commercial operations, then the increase must have been diverted to the defense portion of their budget since the social service levels appeared to remain strong but flat when compared to the pre-IDF period.

Durability Factors – Post IDF Withdrawal in 2000

There are three basic elements of durability factors that I will focus on to assess the relative durability of the organization under study: a.) years in continuous operation, b.) size of the organization (followers);and, c.) coherence of the organization.

Hezbollah had been in continuous operation since 1982 and thus conducted its 19th and 20th years of continuous operation in the two years following the IDF withdrawal. The size of the organization had grown considerably from approximately 15,000 members pre withdrawal to almost 200,000 at the end of this period.[71] Hamzeh 2004 also notes that the combination of fighters and security forces in Hezbollah climbed from 8,000 in 1998 to approximately 20,000 by the end of this period. There were no known splinter groups that broke off from the organization in this period and the Lebanese Resistance Brigades continued to be built out as noted in the pre-withdrawal comments above.

In summary, Hezbollah clearly demonstrated a major build up of its core members. From a durability standpoint, it evidenced a stronger foundation for evn greater growth in the future – no splinters and continuing ability to absorb a variety of members across all mission areas. The bulk would appear to be for the volunteer social services force but the fighting/security members were enlarged as well. It should be noted that any standing collection of fighters for Hezbollah is often augmented by loyal resistance fighters in the area of conflict that do not necessarily align with Hezbollah’s political ideology. As noted in the discussion of the political strength of Hezbollah, there are still powerful clans/families that operate in the south and in the Bekaa valley.

Summary of Organizational Strength – Pre and Post IDF Withdrawal in 2000

In all four areas of evaluation, Hezbollah’s strength arguably grew noticeably when comparing the pre and post IDF withdrawal periods.

Growth in political strength was significant in that the internal and regional support for Hezbollah demonstrated solidarity at least around the resistance to Israel matter. Its internal political power edged up in the south relative to Amal but it was still without any major alliance partners beyond the clan deals they made to build winning lists. Political strength was noticeably growing but not robustly.

Military strength was the factor that was enhanced dramatically when comparing the pre and post withdrawal period. In one sense it is to be expected given the free hand that Israel gave them as a result of the withdrawal and the desire to remain disengaged from the morass of Lebanon. Their sponsors saw an opportunity to outfit Hezbollah with sufficient firepower (and train them in its use) to ensure that they had a proxy army in place to deter or harass Israel if needed. On the other, savvy political operator that Hezbollah is had know that dramatic increases in its arms would provoke a public outcry about an extra-governmental entity that made a joke of the central Lebanese government’s monopoly on the use of force. Balancing the political implications of this major improvement was Hezbollah’s real challenge (as would be seen in the disarmament debate that began in earnest in 2004).

Economic strength was at least as sound as it was in the pre-IDF withdrawal period. As noted, the estimates of financial flows (in cash or in kind) were not reported to be much higher in the post-withdrawal period, but clearly the uses of funds had grown considerably at least in the military arena. Either there were substantial undetected funds flowing from sponsors and/or the Hezbollah charity and commercial operations produced substantially greater results than had been the case in the pre-withdrawal period (which is plausible given the positive political impact of the IDF withdrawal).

The Durability factors also point to a dramatic improvement in the membership that reflects the resilience of the organization even as its mission apparently seemed to change following the withdrawal of the IDF and the SLA from the occupied territory.

As a result of the comparison of pre and post IDF withdrawal organizational strength elements, I conclude that Hezbollah demonstrated resilience. What now needs to be evaluated are the two basic hypotheses at the heart of this research:

Null: You can ‘buy’ or ‘coerce’ resilience when you need it- the insurgencies that use their relatively superior material resources to selectively incent or coerce followers or sponsors are best able to ensure or restore organizational strength in the wake of external shocks (i.e., demonstrate resilience)
H1: No ‘social deposits’, no legitimacy, no resilience - the insurgencies who have made the necessary ‘social deposits’ over time to legitimate their power are best able to ensure or restore organizational strength in a timely fashion in the wake of external shocks

At this point we will turn our attention to the assessment of the states of legitimation of Hezbollah as it experienced the IDF withdrawal in May 2000.

Assessment of Hezbollah’s State of Legitimation in May 2000

As noted previously, once the determination is made that the organization has demonstrated resilience, we need to determine which of the above-mentioned hypotheses has the least amount of evidence against it. There are three basic areas to cover: the Cheap Talk Test, the Methods of Operations tests and the Outcomes tests.

Methods Tests

These tests are built around four factors that reveal the fairness/lack of fairness in the way the organization goes about its duties. A summary graphic is below:

Absence of Violent Coercion

The graphic below lays out the ex ante tests for the presence or absence of violent coercion by the group against its followers.

There is no evidence of even sporadic uses of force by Hezbollah against its followers to coerce them to be loyal or perform their duties as required for their resistance or social service missions. A security organization is present in the ranks of Hezbollah (estimated at 3000 persons at May 2000). Based on insights from Quinlivan (1999) in his article about the mechanisms used by various Arab nations to ‘coup proof’ their regimes, he notes two particularly important elements: 1.) the creation of parallel militaries that counterbalance the regularmilitary forces, and, 2.) the establishment of security agencies that watch everyone,including other security agencies (Quinlivan 1999:135).

Hezbollah clearly represented a parallel military like the ones that are present in the coup proofing scenarios laid out by Quinlivan. Under the circumstances present in Lebanon at the time, however, the SLA were at best a militia built to protect Maronite hegemony and, at worst, co-opted by IDF to serve as their proxy in southern Lebanon. With regards to size of the Hezbollah security forces, Quinlivan lays out some useful ratios to interpret the size of that force in 2000. He points out that in reasonably well-ordered societies (e.g., the U.S.) there are approximately 2 police personnel for every 1000 persons in the population. In more difficult circumstances (e.g., Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles) he notes that that ratio rose to 20 police personnel per 1000 population. In the case of Hezbollah, the security forces at the time represented about 3 for the 1 million Shiites in Lebanon at the time and far less than 2 per 1000 if one includes the total Lebanese population in 2000. Clearly this force would be severely limited in its ability to coerce followers through force even if it wanted to given the limits of its size. Though empirically elusive, it is more likely that this group was used for intelligence and counterintelligence against its primary enemies (Israel and its allies), to limit penetration by Israeli agents and its allies and also to provide internal discipline should there be any rogue actors.

There is no evidence of even isolated threats to use violence against other Lebanese in order to maintain its power (specifically with regard to the debate about disarming Hezbollah). As a result of the debate about the adoption of Taif Accord in the earlier part of the 1990s, the Lebanese government acknowledged the legitimate role of Hezbollah as a resistance organization. While that consensus would break down in late 2004 – and remains a debate into 2011 – in May 2000, there was no debate about the need for Hezbollah as an armed party to resist Israel and its allies attempts to occupy Lebanon.

Based on these observations, I conclude that the State of Legitimation with regards to this test is ‘emergent.’

Level of Autonomy from Sponsors

The graphic below lays out the three specific ex ante tests for the level of autonomy from sponsors by the group as of May 2000:

As noted in the Economic and Political Strength comments above, there is considerable evidence that Hezbollah was highly dependent on both of its primary sponsors as of May 2000 for a broad scope of the support factors noted in the ex ante tests above. Given this resource dependency and the related limits on autonomy, one would expect the organization to be beholden to its sponsors (Byman and Chalk 2003, Byman 2005) to some degree and, therefore, expect the occurrence of otherwise unrelated violent operations on behalf of the sponsor as a form of return on investment (or simply a condition of continued support). Since its inception in 1982, a variety of evidence is present to demonstrate that Hezbollah (or its agents such as the Islamic Jihad) conducted operations against non-traditional enemies of the organization for the potential benefit of its sponsors.[72] While Ranstorp (1997) lays out the strategic logic of the non-combatant oriented kidnapping campaign that lasted for 10 years ending in 1992, it nonetheless is plausible that these acts were performed at the behest of the sponsor and demonstrates limited autonomy. The Argentina bombings alluded to in the footnote above are also evidence of a conflicted Hezbollah.

The ideological affinity between Iran and Hezbollah has been strong from its inception but there is little other than strategic motivations to bring Syria and Hezbollah together. With respect to Hezbollah, Syria under Hafez al Assad was more than happy to have an able guerilla army to use as a proxy to provoke Israel. Syria wanted to compel Israel to come to terms on a deal for the land it lost in 1967 and could not reclaim in 1973 in the Golan. Syria and Hezbollah’s relationship is largely based on strategic calculations that as of May 2000 positioned Syria in the dominant position. Iran also clearly had strategic interests as well with regards to Hezbollah but these were always framed in the context of the ideological connection of Shia philosophy and the Khomeini’s more activist model of clerical leadership (Sankari 2005; Norton 1987, 2007; Ajami 1986). Their relationship was surely not simply about ideological affinity (Ranstorp 1997; Takeyh 2009; Wright 2010). Israel was Iran’s mortal enemy and any friend in that fight – especially one that could methodically bloody the IDF as well as launch punishing rockets attacks deep into Israel – was a useful friend to have. Iran could effectively open up two fronts against Israel with its Hezbollah friends in Lebanon. In addition, Iran could use Hezbollah as its agent to influence the course and conduct of the Palestinian conflict.

As noted in the Economic Strength comments above, at this time, Hezbollah was highly dependent on its two main sponsors in this era. Though it is difficult to ascertain given the clandestine nature of its operation, Hezbollah likely depended on Syria and/or Iran for greater than 20% of its annual needs from 1982 to the withdrawal. While most would credit Hezbollah with sound stewardship of the funds it was given, the literature would still indicate that Hezbollah had very limited diversity in its sponsorship up until this point (even with the improved charitable and commercial infrastructure that it implemented in the late 1990s).

There are no lootable resources in Lebanon at present to be exploited for the benefit of the movement (at least not on the scale needed to make a difference).

As a result of these observations, it appears that as of May 2000, Hezbollah was somewhere between a ‘confused’ state of legitimationand an ‘emergent’ state with respect to its level of autonomy. The scope, persistence and level of support was significant to Hezbollah’s operations for most of this period and most of the support factors were being exploited by Hezbollah from arguably both of its main sponsors (likely less financial support from the economically impaired Syrian sponsor). There was sufficient evidence of major campaigns of violence on behalf of its sponsors but that practice was in decline by time of withdrawal. There was credible evidence of criminal activities (Levitt 2005) as sources of income. The security interests of both major sponsors were clearly plausible but less so in Iran’s case – i.e., it clearly preferred to have an ally on the border of Israel that it could leverage but Iran realizes it would need nuclear deterrents to realistically deter Israel. Syria was interested in using Hezbollah as a deterrent in the case of an Israeli invasion of Syria and also a chip in its negotiations to reclaim its land. These were all more realistic propositions in its strategic security gambit than those of Iran. Ideological affinity with Iran was constant and plausible presence from the inception of the movement. That was clearly a different matter with respect to Syria whereby the strategic calculus was what bonded the two unusual allies. Syria was more than prepared to use force against Hezbollah if it had to during this period (Rabil 2007; Byman 2005; Ranstorp 1997).

Level of Public Accountability

The graphic below lays out the ex ante tests for the level of public accountability of Hezbollah.

With regards to the scope, persistence and level of answerability to the public, there is substantial evidence of the organization’s willingness to compete for election. The 1992 national elections were a major point of contention within the movement that ultimately led to the dismissal of Tufayli and the elevation of Mussawi and, after his assassination, then Nasrallah. This decision appeared to some to be a radical change in direction for Hezbollah – an ‘about face’ (Palmer-Harik 2004). In 1992 Hezbollah would compete for elections in a national government that only seven years prior they had excoriated in their Open Letter as a ‘rotten sectarian system’[73] and unworthy of being cooperated with – and anyone who did so was, by definition, no longer a legitimate form of opposition. By most accounts this appeared to have warranted a significant turnabout in Hezbollah’s fundamental philosophy – its ‘intellectual structure’ (Saad-Ghorayeb 2001).[74] Hezbollah’s rationale for competing in these elections reveals that they were willing to trade off the disruption to the core membership and the ‘dirtiness’ of playing the political game in Lebanon,[75] in order to demonstrate a willingness to operate inside the Lebanese system in order to achieve their social justice and political goals. Hezbollah went on to participate in the municipal elections in 1998 as discussed in the Political Strength comments above and the national elections in 2000 (post withdrawal). They maintained some faint semblance of distance – and, in their mind, dignity – from the government by not serving in the cabinet as of May 2000 (this would change in 2005 following the departure of Syria from Lebanon under duress in accordance to UNSCR 1559).

The clear interest and willingness to participate in competitive elections demonstrated a tangible commitment by Hezbollah to hold itself accountable to the people of Lebanon – or at least the constituents whose favor it sought. There is little or no evidence, however, outside of this mechanism that Hezbollah was willing to be answerable to the people. Ideologically, Hezbollah believes that only the highly trained religious leaders who themselves are worth of emulation can divine the will of God such that they would be able to set strategic direction. In practice, however, Hezbollah is quick to test the opinion of the people through its well-developed social infrastructure. It appears to be quite interested in the opinion on the street if not before their planned policy takes effect, then afterwards in order to manage reputational damage control. Hezbollah is a savvy political operator but they do so in order to maintain their mission of resistance and social justice that they logically believe would be compromised in foreign-power penetrated politics of modern Lebanon.

Hezbollah is a closed organizational structure in that its senior leadership is largely[76] open only to recognized Shii clerics. Women and secular leaders are represented on select committees within the hierarchy of Hezbollah (e.g., the Hezbollah Political Council) but there is a clear ascriptive set of criteria – e.g.,male, Shia, religiously credentialed – that is necessary to attain the most senior leadership positions.

The scope, persistence and level of enforcement of accountability of public accountability in Lebanon depend largely on the public sphere and the power of international institutions. The public sphere, in this case, consists of civil society organizations, the media and related bodies to monitor ‘cheating’ on the part of political actors in the Lebanese environment. There is a robust media in Lebanon that facilitates the open debate of important public issues (e.g., disarmament of Hezbollah, resistance to Israel, freedom from meddling foreign powers) and international institutions are active in the Lebanese arena (e.g., UNIFIL, UNSC, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International). In some respects, Lebanon is so interpenetrated by international institutions and foreign powers that it is sometimes hard to tell whether this tiny country is simply a venue for proxy wars for the major and regional powers. This interpenetration does not consistently provide a suitable enforcement environment as much as it provides a forum to vent the differences of opinion. The public sphere operates as a clearinghouse for exchanging different views but not necessarily as a suitable enforcement mechanism. Lebanon is regarded as a fundamentally corrupt environment (see Transparency International Global Corruption Report) and, as a result, unlikely to be able to provide the enforcement mechanisms for public accountability.

Based on these observations, I conclude that Hezbollah operates between a ‘confused’ and an ‘emergent’ state of legitimation. The weak enforcement environment could allow Hezbollah to escape consequences for failing to be publicly accountable. While it would appear in this period that Hezbollah is answerable to the public, it does so at its own pleasure and with limited ability of other institutions locally or globally to hold it accountable for its failures in fact or appearance for public accountability.[77] Combined with its closed organizational structure and rigid hierarchy that leaves a major power unchecked.

Level of Professionalism

The graphic below depicts the ex ante tests for the level of professionalism component of the states of legitimation tests. There are two empirical elements to focus relevant observations: 1.) efficiency, innovativeness and coherence of the organization; and, 2.) fairness in the administration of public services.

During the period from 1982 to 2000, Hezbollah demonstrated its ability to innovate its military operating style to achieve significant improvement in the ratio of killed and wounded relative to the IDF and SLA (Hamzeh 2004, Byman 2005). The ratios declined from approximately 5:1 to 2:1 or less by the end of this period. When the Lebanese Resistance Brigades were formed, Qassem (2005) notes that these groups were carefully husbanded to minimize their exposure to more dangerous operations even though some in that group sought dangerous missions to demonstrate their commitment and value to the resistance. This approach is in sharp contrast to the deployment of the Basij by Iran during the Iran/Iraq war as ‘cannon fodder’ in the human wave attacks against Iraqi positions (Wright 2010). Hezbollah does have a clearly demonstrated history of suicide bombing operations (i.e., martyrdom operations) that might suggest that the organization could be indiscriminate about the loss of life in the execution of its military operations. In fact, Hezbollah was quite utilitarian about the use of martyrdom operations – if the payoff was sizable enough, it was justified given the presence of foreign oppressors (Sankiri 2005:207-209; Saad-Ghorayeb 2001:95-102). The use of suicide bombers against relatively hardened military targets by Hezbollah (or its sanctioned shadow organization, Islamic Jihad) represented a major innovation in tactics in the Middle Eastern theater (Pape 2005). The significant payoff of the early operations at the US Marine barracks, the French barracks and the embassies helped an uncertain Fadlallah – a major influencer and legitimator of Hezbollah at that time - overcome his doubts about the theological legitimacy of suicide as a means to a political end.

The use of kidnapping as a means to its political ends during this era is outlined by Ranstorp (1997) and others (Jaber 1997) in some detail. Jaber and Saad-Ghorayeb cast some doubt on Hezbollah’s immediate role in what Qassem and Fadlallah (Sankiri 2005) would day is a reprehensible and un-Islamic practice. They point out, that another shadowy organization or persons (i.e., Mugniyah with the aid of Iran) was at the center of these operations. To the extent that a rogue operator was present in their midst it demonstrates an organizational weakness. To the extent that Hezbollah was using a clandestine organization to effectively achieve their goals – while immoral in the strict ShiiIslamic sense – they were innovating to deflect their enemies pressure and their followers disdain. It was not largely successful, however, since the international community tended to implicate Hezbollah nonetheless.

In regards to the fiscal competence of Hezbollah in this era, as noted above in my comments on the Economic Strength, they were proficient in the use of their capital to deliver on many operational needs: a.) increasing its scope of social services; b.) broadening its sources of income from charitable sources and commercial operations to reduce their financial dependence on its primary sponsors; c.) smart investments in multiple sectors to reduce their financial dependence on its primary sponsors.

The launch of the al-Manar TV station in 1991 demonstrated Hezbollah’s savvy and awareness of the role of marketing in its resistance operations. Propaganda has always been a vital source of oxygen to any regime whether it was a tyrannical state or a group in rebellion. The state, however, typically had the resources and means to control the airwaves. In this case, Hezbollah, with seed capital from Iran, seized the opportunity and created what would become a significant enabler of its ability to manipulate symbols of Islam and Hezbollah’s virtue, sacrifice and commitment through its ‘myth-management’ apparatus (Jorisch 2004).

Beyond the Lebanese Resistance Brigades (and possibly Al Manar) there is limited evidence that Hezbollah recruited heavily outside their immediate social networks to acquire technocratic skills that may not have been available to them otherwise. In some respects this likely reflects both a keen security bias at the time and a more limited need for broader expertise given the size of the operation at that time.

As discussed, the organization coalesced from the collection of several groups between 1982 and 1985 and Tufayli split from the group in 1992 (formally dismissed in 1998) to form Ansar Allah.

Hezbollah has enjoyed a reputation for integrity, fairness and being the metaphorical ‘Mr. Clean’ in a corruption-ridden Lebanese political environment.

“Syrian control over Lebanon is rooted in the pervasive corruption that infects Lebanese politics at all levels, and Hezbollah has been the most vocal critic of this corruption. Moreover, the readily observable asceticism of its leaders and efficiency of its social-welfare network contrast sharply with the pervasive corruption and ineptitude that has infected the Second Republic. Even Hezbollah's soccer team, Al-Ahd, has managed to maintain an impeccable image in a country where the sport is not associated with good sportsmanship. Astonishingly, during the 1997 season, the team did not receive a single red or yellow penalty card. Hezbollah's stance on corruption is particularly resonant among Lebanese Shi'ites because the Amal movement arose in the 1970s primarily to challenge the corrupt patronage networks of the traditional feudal lords (zu'ama) who reigned supreme within the community. After the death of the movement's founder, Musa al-Sadr, however, Amal soon adopted the same practices as the zu'amait sought to supplant. In the post-Ta'if era, Berri has rivaled Rafiq Hariri as the most skilled and corrupt of Lebanon's neo-zu'ama, and the Council of the South, a government institution controlled by Berri, is perhaps more ridden with patronage than any agency that existed in the First Republic. As a result, many among the Shi'ite professional middle class - once the core base of Amal's support – have deserted the group and now support Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, whose austerity and dedication to the fight against Israel (his own son was sent into battle and died) contrast sharply with Berri's corruption and cowardice (during the civil war he fled Lebanon and spent the better part of a year in Damascus because he feared for his life).” (Gambill & Adelnour 2002)

In sharp contrast to Yassir Arafat’s PLO and its closest Shia rival (Amal), Hezbollah is generally recognized as a paragon of integrity in the conduct of its operations (Reenders 2006; Deeb 2006a, Norton 1987, 2007; Saad-Ghorayeb 2001; Palmer-Harik 2004; Hamzeh 2004; Picard 1997). Hezbollah is clearly utilitarian in its willingness to compromise to gain political advantage (e.g., building composite lists with clan chiefs in the south) but that flexibility represents its clear understanding of the pluralism that pervades Lebanese political life. Hezbollah has had to back off of its early claim to seek an Islamic state in Lebanon because it was fundamentally not viable in the political structure of Lebanon.

The principles on which Hezbollah delivered its services in this era are based on its broader social justice mission – to address the dispossessed and oppressed equally and with primary regard to need as dictated by Islamic law and theology (Deeb 2006a, Saad-Ghorayeb). It focuses the scope, timing and extent of its social services via engagement with planning committeesat the municipal level in districts that arguably are the neediest. The reality is that the vast majority of their social services were focused on the traditional strongholds of the Shia – the south, the southern suburbs and the Bekaa Valley. The Sunni, Christian and Druze groups largely served their own to the extent those programs were needed and in operation. The well developed organizational structure of Hezbollah (Hamzeh 2004, 1997; Palmer-Harik 2004; Byman 2005) facilitates the division of duties amongst the organization and channels the available combination of paid and volunteer labor in an effective manner. Trash is picked up. Health care is delivered at a high quality for a low price. Wells are dug and potable water flows. Military operations are conducted with a manageable loss of life given the limited supply of fighters that are trained and loyal to the organization.

Based on these observations, I conclude that Hezbollah operates between at an ‘emergent’ state of legitimation. The patronage-based model is virtually absent from the discourse about Hezbollah’s operations. The fairness principles are based on a social justice model that transcends religious boundaries. Via interactions with the municipal level, Hezbollah ensures a suitable public debate about how best to serve that community – and the nature of the services offered are foundational to any state or local government (e.g., education, health care, water projects, trash collection). The social services are, however, largely restricted to the predominantly Shia areas of Lebanon and could be construed as selective payments to maintain the political loyalty of their followers. The fact that the needs of this segment of Lebanese society have been substantial, mitigates that argument.

Outcomes Tests

These tests are built around two factors that reveal the nature of the outcomes and the fairness/favorability of those outcomes that the organization delivers to its followers and the society in which it operates. A summary graphic is below:

Favorabilty and fairness in outcomes is designed to unpack the degree of public versus private goods that are produced by the organization. The nature of outcomes is to unpack the degree to which the organization reconstructs and enhances the political identity of the followers and/or the society as a whole.

Favorability and Fairness in Outcomes

The tangible outcomes produced by Hezbollah are: the resistance effort that arguably led to the IDF withdrawal in May 2000 from southern Lebanon and the collection of social services previously discussed. The eviction of the IDF from southern Lebanon and the collapse of the SLA are public goods whose benefits are shared by all in Lebanon.[78] As noted, the primary beneficiaries of the social services programs of Hezbollah are the neediest regions within the Shia communities of the south, the southern suburbs and the Bekaa valley. Some services are available to all based on a fee for service (e.g., Health care) and given the quality of care provided this is often the case now that these institutions have reached some operating scale. They were originally exclusive to the families of Hezbollah soldiers who died in combat and to those injured in combat. That is largely changed given the maturation of most of these service organizations.

Nature of Outcomes

The tangible outcomes discussed above, however, had often been noted by followers and rivals alike as only part of the benefits that Hezbollah had delivered (as of May 2000). The intangible outcome that was often a major part of Hezbollah’s discourse with and between the Shia, the Lebanese, the region and the world was its political identity.[79] Identities by themselves do not explain behavior (Wendt 1999: 231). Identity is a function of repeated interaction (i.e., iterative games with a long shadow of the future with diffuse reciprocity) between actors and is, therefore, contingent on social activity. “Identities refer to who or what actors are…interests refer to what actors want. Identities belong to the belief side (context) so of the intentional equation (i.e., desire + belief = action) while interests belong to the desire side (motivations). They play complementary explanatory roles, and so rather than define them as rivals, we should explore how they work in tandem” (Wendt 1999: 231; Wendt & Fearon 2001).

Hezbollah had built, to some extent in May 2000, a resistance culture (Crooke 2009) that fit with a national and regional sense of pride based on a complex web of identity reconstruction that was not always convergent: Arab, Islamic, Lebanese, Shia. Hezbollah’s devotion to the resistance to Israeli occupation (and to a lesser extent its rejection of western values), contrasted sharply with the legacy of the corruption or tyranny of many Arab governments (Hafez 2003) and/or their complicity with western powers in order to maintain their regime. To a broader base of Lebanese than simply poor Shia, Hezbollah represented a viable means to redirect positively the course of not only Lebanese political culture (Shaery-Eisenlohr 2008; Deeb 2006a) but also Arab political culture (Crooke 2009, Saad-Ghorayeb 2001; Palmer-Harik 1996, Hamzeh 1997).

As a result of the impact of the resistance mission – and its tangible result of the unilateral withdrawal of the IDF in 2000 – Hezbollah had enabled a productive reconstruction of not only the Shia Islamic political identity but also the Arab and Lebanese political identity as of May 2000 (Noe 2007: Nasrallah’s Divine Victory speech in May 2000).[80] The stability and maintenance of that reconstructed identity would be subject to contests in the future but at that time, Hezbollah had delivered a powerful intangible result to a broad audience.

Based on these observations, I conclude that Hezbollah has reached at least an ‘emergent’ state of legitimation and arguably a ‘legitimated’ state with respect to nature of outcomes.

Vision, Mission & Values Alignment Tests (Cheap Talk)

The final set of states of legitimation tests focus on how well the organization’s discourse at the Vision, Mission and Values (VMV) level aligns with (and remains aligned with) the Methods of Operation and Outcomes levels. This is essentially a test for the level of ‘cheap talk’ by the organization. This is especially relevant in an era of significantly improved communications capabilities for insurgencies that are otherwise less sophisticated.

Organizations that depend on the trust and support of the masses for the conduct of their political or commercial activity need to ensure that the social deposits they make at the ‘Mission, Vision & Values’ layer align with the ‘Outputs’ and ‘Methods of Operation’ layers of their web of social deposits over time. This discursive layer of social deposits acts as a constraint on the other layers – the organization needs to ‘walk its talk’ or else risk weakening if not destroying the power of its discursive layer of actions.

This research will focus on the primary elements (i.e., the ‘super priorities’) at the VMV level and evaluate conformity. Where a component of the VMV level was resisted by the broader society in which the organization operated, did the organization modify that VMV component to conform to the broader societal view? Or did it persist in its attempt to impose that norm? If non-alignment is caused by a concession of a VMV component and that concession acts to build trust in an important constituency, then that will not be treated as a failure of the ‘cheap talk’ test for purposes of this research.

Hezbollah’s Super Priorities

In its 1985 Open Letter, Hezbollah specified the following as its primary objectives (i.e., super priorities) for the organization: a.) Israel’s eviction from Lebanon and ultimately its obliteration; b.) Eviction and elimination of the influence of all Imperialist powers and their allies from Lebanon; c.) Submission of the Phalangist forces to just rule and trial for their crimes; and, d.) Give all peoples of Lebanon the freedom to choose their own system of government – openly admitting that they preferred an Islamic system but yielding to the Qu’ranic stipulation that Islam cannot be imposed on anyone (Norton 1987: 175-176).

Relevant Observations and Assessment Regarding ‘Cheap Talk’

In the case of its objective to eliminate Israel from Lebanon, this was achieved (temporarily) at great cost to the organization and its allies in the field with the withdrawal of the IDF in May 2000. The influence and threat of future military action was not eradicated at that time but the basic requirement of eviction was completed. The obliteration of Israel is in all likelihood was, at best, a bombastic objective and that goal is – then and now – an unrealistic objective. The eviction of imperialist powers requires some interpretation. Hezbollah was certainly referring to the US, France and Israel (and any other Western power who may have had designs on Lebanon) when they crafted this goal. In that sense, they have achieved the goal of evicting those countries military forces from a presence in Lebanon. The presence of UNIFIL or other like-kind forces in Lebanon had done little to limit Hezbollah’s freedom of movement and resupply and, thus, the presence of ‘Chapter 6’ class UN forces would translate to constructive accomplishment of that goal. The part of the goal that had not yet been accomplished was the eradication of the influence of western powers in the affairs of the Lebanese state. The US and France have maintained a strong political presence in the state and as of May 2000 continued to do so in support of their patrons (the Sunni and Christian communities as well as other secular groups). Once the IDF pulled out, there was widespread concern that Hezbollah would systematically slaughter the SLA that remained. Hezbollah largely refrained from any widespread violence towards them and remanded the SLA soldiers and sympathizers to the courts to address their crimes. Hezbollah initially pushed hard for the establishment of an Islamic state but eased its stand in the early 1990s as it considered participation in the Lebanese political process. By May 2000, Hezbollah had generally ceased to speak openly of a vision for an Islamic state in Lebanon (and which Fadlallah publicly noted was not consistent with the consociational form of government that Lebanon was built on).

Beyond the objectives laid out in the Open Letter, Hezbollah has publicly claimed that it seeks to dismantle the sectarian form of politics that has dominated Lebanese political life since the mid 20th century. In this goal they have been less than successful but continue to seek a non-sectarian form of government. Having said that, however, there is evidence (ICG Reports: Rebel Without a Cause and Old Games, New Rules) that they will lever the sectarian scheme when it suits their political goals (especially around elections and when the disarmament debates heat up). In addition, Hezbollah has consistently claimed that it seeks to establish a system of social justice that relieves the suffering of the dispossessed and the ‘wretched of the earth’ (Fanon 1963). In that respect, its impressive ability to deliver a broad and high quality of social services demonstrates that they are committed to easing the suffering of the truly needy based on the Islamic rejoinder to supplement your prayers with actions (Deeb 2006a).

Based on these observations, I conclude that there is a low level of ‘cheap talk’ by Hezbollah. They generally deliver on – or remain credibly committed to pursuing - what they set out as their objectives even though some of those objectives may seem largely out of reach for even some states to achieve. Hezbollah ‘walks the talk.’

Summary of Conclusions from Case and Path for Future Research

The results of the subjective tests of the state of legitimation of Hezbollah in May 2000 reveals an organization that is in the ‘emergent’ stage of legitimation based on the scheme that I am using for this research.

This outcome suggests that the alternative hypothesis is plausible. That is, that the social deposits that Hezbollah made prior to the shock (pending victory based on the withdrawal of the IDF in May 2000) were a significant contributing factor in the resilience of the organization’s resilience and enabled it to overcome the values challenge that ensued from the IDF withdrawal. This is, of course, one case and one case only. There are a variety of factors that are peculiar to this event and the political opportunity structures that were in place at Lebanon at the time this event took place. The ability to generalize from this case is severely limited and further research is required before any contingent generalizations could plausibly be made. Given the emergent state of legitimation based on the ex ante tests established for this research, it is reasonable to continue with this path of inquiry.

The next step in this research will be to evaluate the plausibility of the alternative hypothesis in the context of the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel. Beyond that, I will investigate two like-kind events for Hamas, the Provisional IRA and a component of the Taliban that is Afghan in origin (e.g., the JalaluddinHaqqani network).

About the Author

Christopher P. Dallas-Feeney is a Ph.D. candidate at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His research focus is on the role of legitimated power in the resilience of insurgencies. Chris earned his M.A. in Security Studies at Georgetown University in 2006 and his B.A. in Business Administration from Pennsylvania State University in 1977. Chris was a partner with Booz Allen & Hamilton and also KPMG Peat Marwick. Chris currently is the Managing Director of a general management consulting firm, New Frontier Advisors, based in West Chester, Pennsylvania.



1. START website: http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data/ last accessed May 5, 2009.

2. My use of the term insurgency also includes resistance organizations that do not claim to be a rival of the incumbent government but claim to exist to resist the military or political influence and incursions of foreign nations (e.g., Hezbollah vs. Israel and the USA). “Insurgency is a protracted political-military activity directed toward completely or partially controlling the resources of a country through the use of irregular military forces and illegal political organizations. Insurgent activity – including guerilla warfare, terrorism, and political mobilization, for example, propaganda, recruitment, front and covert party organizations, and international activity – is designed to weaken the government control and legitimacy while increasing insurgent control and legitimacy. The common denominator of most insurgent groups is their desire to control a particular area (as noted, I have relaxed this constraint). This objective differentiates insurgent groups from purely terrorist organizations, whose objectives do not include the creation of an alternative government capable of controlling a given area or country.” This quote was taken from Byman 2008 and references a CIA publication: Guide to the Analysis of Insurgency, 1980.

3. As noted later in this chapter, organizational strength includes the typical material factors (financial capacity, military capacity, social services capacity, etc.) but also includes a measure of public support for the insurgency. Given that these groups are not always participants in competitive elections (2 of my active cases are and 2 are not) and the uneven availability and reliability of public opinion surveys, I provide proxies for public support in the organizational strength assessments. These are clearly weaker indicators of strength than the less subjective measures but they provide some insight to the ‘market pull’ for the group pre and post shock.

4. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-08-07-lebanon-damage_x.html; last accessed December 15, 2010.

5. The Zogby/university of Maryland polls from November 2006 revealed a strong sectarian bias, however, in the mood of the country. While all confessions saw Hezbollah as the winner, only the Shiite respondents saw Israel as the biggest loser – the other three confessions polled (Druze, Sunni and Christian) saw Lebanon as the biggest loser. This same poll shows a deepening of the support for Hezbollah in its natural ethnic community (the Shia) and a sharp decline in support across the other confessions. The March 2008 poll by the same Zogby/University of Maryland team confirms the hardening of support for Hezbollah along traditional confessional lines with 83% of the Shia supportive of Hezbollah in its position on a national unity government. Notably, the Christian confession does show a 25% support that likely reflects the savvy alliance that Hezbollah has formed with the Aoun-led Free Patriotic Movement, which represents a majority of the Christian community in Lebanon.

6. The slate of cases to be evaluated in the near term include: Hamas, the Provisional IRA and a portion of the Taliban operating in Afghanistan immediately prior to the US military operations in that country in October, 2001.

7. The social movement literature (McAdam 1986, McAdam, McCarthy & Zald 1996, Gamson 1975, Tarrow 1998, 2005; TIlly, McAdam and Tarrow 2003; Snow, Benford et al 1986) was leveraged by a variety of scholars to explain recruitment logic for various types of movements involved in contentious politics. Some scholars investigated its relevance specifically to Islamic groups and the political process used by Islamic groups in general to maneuver in the repressive or violent environments in which they operated (Bayat, Wiktorowicz). The Social Movement literature will be helpful in my research for understanding the role of political opportunity structures at inception of a movement and some of the logic for framing the rebellion for the masses. It will only partially help me explain (e.g., resource dependency aspects of the research program), however, the resilience of an insurgency for two major reasons: 1.) the organization is not the primary unit of analysis in most of the literature; and, 2.) it does not theorize the role of legitimacy or like-kind social phenomena that could explain organizational persistence or change. See also the discussion below regarding the fourth thread of thinking in the Supply Side school.

8. See the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, 2007 (Known as Us Army Field Manual 3-24 and Marine Corps Warfighting Publication no. 3-33.5).

9. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8611f5ec-6210-11da-8470-0000779e2340.html#axzz1CqAK8G7P (last accessed February 3, 2011)

10. These actions range from individual events such as battlefield actions that kill innocents via collateral damage to years of policies or actions that have engendered widespread distrust of the counterinsurgent by the ‘parties to be liberated’ from the scourge of insurgency. Kilcullen (2009) acknowledges this phenomenon in his notion of the accidental guerilla. While there are cases (and Afghanistan may be one) that this applies at least in part, it is not clear how far that theory travels and once a guerilla is made - ‘accidental’ or otherwise – how difficult it is to undo that social obligation.

11. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2006/08/02/lebanonisrael-idf-fails-explain-qana-bombing (last accessed on February 3, 2011).

12. This notion is not wholly new to the literature. CT scholars (e.g. Byman and Crenshaw), for example, have addressed the perception risk that counter-terror or counterinsurgent forces incur when they attempt to repress terrorist groups or insurgencies with aggressive countermeasures including torture for intelligence gathering purposes. The classic example used is the backlash against French forces for the methods used in the early stages of repressing the insurgency in Algerian war of independence from 1954 to 1962. A more modern example is the Abu Ghraib prison incident in the US/Iraq war that started in 2003.

13. There exist numerous accounts of the role of Syria and Iran. Palmer-Harik, Jaber and Saad-Ghorayeb, Norton 1987 and Takeyh 2006, 2009 offer foundational accounts.

14. An index of failed states can be found at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/failedstates (last accessed December 21, 2010).

15. As noted by various authors including James Lebovic (2010), the Viet Cong were eliminated as an effective fighting force following the Tet offensive. The war, however, continued largely on the power of the North Vietnamese regular army forces and their sponsors.

16. There is a faint resemblance to the ‘Fabian strategy’ that was made famous by Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus in the second Punic War and also by George Washington in the American Revolutionary War.

17. The case of Hezbollah is instructive. The generally non-violent group, Amal, was the root organization for Hezbollah. Amal was formed by Musa al Sadr in the 1960’s. Hezbollah was derived as a splinter of Amal in 1982 and was violent almost from its inception (Norton 1987).

18. There are a variety of scholars who have explored the concept of social capital. James Coleman (Foundations of Social Theory, Belknap Press, 1998) is a useful source as well as Robert Putnam (Making Democracy Work, Princeton University Press, 1994).

19. Collier et al 2004 notes that three primary theories of the duration of civil war conflict prevail: 1.) rebellion-as-investment which focuses on the payoff post conflict as the primary motivation (be it financial or social in nature); 2.) rebellion-as-business which focuses on the payoff during the conflict which can be financial or social (e.g., solidary benefits); and 3.) rebellion-as-mistake which focuses on the impact of misperceptions about rebel/opponent capabilities that perpetuate the conflict. They argue that only the rebellion as business and the rebellion as mistake theories explain why civil war tends to last up to 7 times longer that international war. Kalyvas (2003, 2006) and Kalyvas et al 2008 argue that the microfoundations of civil war need to account for both the local sources of agency as well as the macro narrative in order to understand violence and duration of civil wars. Based on my assessment of this literature none of these clearly account for the resilience of a particular insurgent organization.

20. To distinguish between crime organizations and political organizations, as Galula (1964) notes, the analyst needs to discern the cause for which the movement has mobilized. To gain traction with the masses, an insurgency needs to frame a cause that is compelling enough to compel the masses to collective action. This notion is akin to the framing concept in the Social Movement Literature cited earlier.

21. I have added the ‘duration’ point based on Collier et al 2004 research findings. N

22. http://www.understandingwar.org/themenode/narcotics (last accessed December 21, 2010)

23. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=5197261&page=1 (last accessed December 21, 2010)

24. See Lara Deeb 2006a for a useful anthropologic discussion on the enchanted modern as expressed in the Shii community in the southern suburbs of Beirut (a Hezbollah stronghold).

25. McAdam 1983 does speak to a trait of organizations – tactical innovation – in his study of adaptive techniques for insurgencies but the units of analysis are still the typically grass-roots social protest organizations in the US of the 1960s that lack much of complexity and scale of what most analyst of insurgencies would associate with a modern insurgency.

26. Note that the argument about resilience is often an indirect one since the arguments tend to be about ‘why followers follow’ the elites of the global jihad versus the ability of an organization to recover efficiently and quickly following a major shock.

27. See Sageman (2004:142) for a contrarian point of view on whether in fact, there is such a thing as a formal ‘recruitment’ function for the global jihad.

28. Haber spends a considerable portion of her book on the history of the intellectual thought that underlies actors such as Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. Stern also explores the history of the reformist (and violent) thinkers that date to ibn Taymiyya in the 13th century to Al Wahhab in the 17th century to al Banna and Qutb in the 20th century.

29. This quote was taken from Byman 2008 and references a CIA publication: Guide to the Analysis of Insurgency, 1980.

30. Wendt speaks to three different cultures of a society – Hobbesian, Lockean and Kantian – that are a variation on this scheme (Wendt 1999).

31. See Deeb 2006a, especially chapter 3 and 5. Even pious and faithful persons are motivated by interests – the payoff of the afterlife – to do their good works. This concept of the ‘economics of religion’ pervades many (perhaps most) expressions of faith in the divine. Interests are not just self-interest and are not always about immediate payoff.

32. Emphasis is mine and is not in original. This is, of course, a reference to the work of Mancur Olson (1965) on the collective action problem. See also Jepperson (1991).

33. The Civil War literature is rife with economic arguments about the causes of civil war, its conduct and its duration. See a separate unpublished manuscript by C. P. Dallas-Feeney (2007) for a summary of that literature and its relevance to the recruitment for the insurgent organizations.

34. See also Abdelal 2006 for a similar discussion of the complications with the related phenomenon of identity.

35. Costliness can be measured in terms of physical or intangible resources. For example, reputation is an intangible asset that, based on the society in which the organization operates, can be put at risk as a form of a social deposit. In this research, I understand cost to be accounted for to the extent that real and intangible assets are put at risk to demonstrate the binding nature of the organization’s commitment.

36. For purposes of this research, actions that the organization takes during a shock (e.g., goodwill gestures to recompense aggrieved parties) are not considered social deposits for purposes of assessing their relevance to the resilience of the organization. These actions could be considered as social deposits for a future shock.

37. Mitigation implies not only that the fear is not only addressed in some form (i.e., Mission, Vision & Values and/or Methods of Operations and/or Outputs) but also that the response to the fear is sustained over time. The ‘thinness or thickness’ of the response by the organization is, thus, a function of both extent of the response (scope) and the duration of the response (sustained over time).

38. The ‘fairness in outcomes’ and the ‘fairness in process’ schools are both forms of moral legitimacy per Suchman (1995). Moral legitimacy is based on the positive normative evaluation of the organization and its activities. This is not based on a simple self-interest model but one whereby obedience to the organization is the “right thing to do”. While followers may expect favorable outcomes they operate in a mode of diffuse reciprocity with respect to their expectations. Payoffs can come in the form of general welfare and with no particular timetable for payment.

39. The obedience to the group is based on the follower’s favorable evaluation of the fairness of the techniques and procedures used by the organization. This is a variation on the Weberian notion of the rational/legal form of legitimacy.

40. This is designed to test for the presence or absence of the style of the tyrannical and totalitarian leader-state model used in Hussein’s Iraq and Al-Assad’s Syria (Per Norton/Muslih 1991, “The use of violence by a government against its citizens is usually a symptom of the absence of legitimacy.”). This test is clearly problematic since many governments that have come to be seen as legitimate started out by using illegitimate means of wresting power from rivals within the state (or were the incumbent government) as described in Hurd 2007, Chapter 3. The test needs to account for the scope, timing and nature of the violence used. Is it used to gain power in the defeat of rivals or the state and then discontinued and not required to maintain power? Is it needed to maintain power to repress rivals whereby the constitutional means to compete for power is bypassed? If yes, to the second instance then I would code that coercive violence has been used and then evaluate then code that legitimation factor as absent. At this point in my research, all of these tests are weighted equally. That may warrant reconsideration in subsequent iterations of this research program.

41. The obedience to the group is intertwined with the utility that comes from the perception that the group provides generally more than less favorable outcomes to the follower. The outcomes seem fair and equitable to the followers. This does not account for structural injustices that favor a status quo to the disadvantage of some. This is a variation on the Weberian notion of the rational/legal form of legitimacy.

42. ICG Middle East Report No. 39, “Syria After Lebanon, Lebanon After Syria”, p. 18 (12 April 2005). See also a more current discussion of Hezbollah’s political and military status: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/28/opinion/28noe.html?ref=hezbollah (last accessed February 4, 2011).

43. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/world/middleeast/26lebanon.html?scp=1&sq=Ousted%20Lebanese%20Leader%20Swallows%20Rivals%E2%80%99%20Bitter%20Pill&st=cse (last accessed February 4, 2011)

44. Palmer, Judith Harik, Hezbollah – The Changing Face of Terrorism, London: I.B. Taurus& Co., Ltd., 2004, pp. 81 – 94.

45. Saad-Ghorayeb, Amal, “Hezbollah – Politics and Religion”, London: Pluto Press, 2002, p. 69.

46. Ibid, p.37.

47. See Norton, Augustus Richard, Amal and the Shi’a, University of Texas Press, 1987; Ajami, Fouad, The Vanished Imam – Musa al Sadr and the Shi’a of Lebanon, I.B. Taurus & Co. Ltd., 1986 and Picard, Elizabeth, Lebanon: A Shattered Country, Holmes & Meier, 1996

48. The operational durability and effectiveness of Hezbollah is impressive. Even after the assassination of its Secretary General in 1992, the group has been able to renew its leadership and maintain the integrity of its operations. They were trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard but evolved their fighting style to radically reduce the loss ratios in combat operations. One Israeli officer noted that “Hezbollah are a mini-Israeli army. They can do everything as well as we can.” See Daniel Byman, “Deadly Connections: States that Sponsor Terrorism”; pg. 111. Fouad Ajami asserts in his essay, “Autumn of the Autocrats” that one should not overestimate the military capabilities of the Hezbollah and that the Lebanese Army could subdue them if they ‘put their mind to it’. The Israeli military and the results of the war with Israel would argue that that is flawed thinking. Regardless of the ‘war weariness’ of the Lebanese people, they tend to see foreign power domination as a worse fate than war. See Fouad Ajami, “The Autumn of the Autocrats,” Foreign Affairs, Volume 84, No. 3 (May/June 2005), pg. 29.

49. Their unequivocal loyalty to Lebanon is contestable and will be assessed formally in the Methods Tests for States of Legitimation of Power below. The group’s ideological submission – and at times, strategic policy decisions - to Grand Ayatollah Khomeini and his successor via the guardianship of the jurisconsultant (velyat al faqih) has caused concern in many Lebanese about the group’s autonomy and fealty to the Lebanese nation.

50. See various sources including the recent reports on Patterns of Global Terrorism issued by the State Department and related websites such as Middle East Media Resarch Institute (MEMRI) on Lebanese Hezbollah (http://www.memri.org/subject/en/88.htm)

51. A notable exception is Saudi Arabia, that has generally been in favor of disarmament of Hezbollah if for no better reason than to weaken a political foe of its clients in Lebanon – the Sunni community.

52. This debate is addressed thoughtfully in Judith Palmer-Harik, Hezbollah – The Changing Face of Terrorism, London: I.B. Taurus. & Co., Ltd., 2004 and Saad-Ghorayeb, Amal, Hezbollah – Politics and Religion, London: Pluto Press, 2002.

53. For purposes of this research, the significance is not who won or who lost the 2006 war (both sides claimed victory though the general sense is that Hezbollah won by not losing – a typical claim in asymmetric warfare). The significance is that Hezbollah expended significant resources in lives and material relative to its supply and provoked the IDF to wreak massive damages to Lebanese state in property and human loss of life. All of these facts will be unpacked in the detailed review of the case to follow.

54. There are numerous sources that describe the political process used in Lebanon for municipal and national elections. Palmer-Harik 2004, chapter 7 (pp 95-110) is a reasonable primer on the machinations needed by any political aspirant to secure the endorsements of local clan chiefs that is needed to assemble a credible and winning list for election. As noted by Palmer-Harik (1993, 2004) and Kramer (1998), the clan structures – especially in the more rural areas in the south and in the north in the Bekaa - were still deeply entrenched in the late 1990’s in Lebanon, played a major role in the political process (vs. ideological conformity to the asceticism that lay at the core of Hezbollah’s political philosophy).

55. See Cambanis 2010 (especially pp 70 to 76) for a useful discussion about the different social customs in a city such as Tyre versus Nabatiyah, both larger cities in the South. Hezbollah has shown a willingness to trade off its desire for compliance with its ascetic Islamic conduct against its need for political control. They are ‘pragmatically ideological’ politicians.

56. http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=3561 (last accessed February 4, 2011).

57. Hezbollah’s focus on messaging and acting on social justice issues and the liberation of the dispossessed has often been linked to the work of Franzt Fanon (e.g., The Wretched of the Earth, 1963) and Catholic liberation theology in general.

58. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jan/14/lebanese-government-collapse-us-policy. “Eleven years ago, a peace agreement between Syria and Israel – that would have led to the disarmament of Hezbollah given the 30,000 Syrian troops in the country – fell apart because, as Israel's top negotiator on Lebanon and Syria, Maj General Uri Sagi, subsequently explained, President Bill Clinton "lied" to the dying Syrian president, Hafez Assad, about having a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in his pocket (including up to the north-eastern shoreline of Lake Tiberius), and Israeli premier Ehud Barak got electoral "cold feet" about giving back the last 100m or so of territory.”

59. http://www.start.umd.edu/start/

60. Even Pape (2005) only codes three suicide operations in this period – all the targets were military convoys in the south. The suspect moral character of these operations also became harder to explain to the adherents given Israel’s retreat and foreign power withdrawal.

61. Between 1978 and 2000, Israeli military actions are estimated to have cost the lives of 20,000 Lebanese civilians. Between 1982 and 2000 Israel lost 889 soldiers in Lebanon. (ICG telephone interview with Israeli Defence Forces Spokesperson, 5 November 2002.). See Nicholas Blanford, Israeli Occupation of South Lebanon, Information brief N°8, Center for Policy Analysis on Palestine, (Washington, 1999).

62. During his campaign to be elected prime minister in the spring of 1999, Ehud Barak vowed to withdraw Israeli forces from Lebanon by July 2000 (The Jerusalem Post, 3 March 1999). Barak vowed to “get the boys out of Lebanon within a year of being elected Prime Minister” (The Jerusalem Post, 4 March 1999) as cited in ICG report: Old Games, New Rules: Conflict on the Israeli-Lebanon Border, 18 November 2002; pg 6.

63. The qualification for non-military is intended to exclude tributes or other ‘follower-exploitation’ type of revenue streams (to the extent they are even detectable). If there are revenues derived from the organization functioning as a protection racket that will be accounted for in the states of legitimation tests portion of the analysis. Inclusion of potentially criminal operations as a recognized source is accounted for here and in the states of legitimation since it is not a form of exploitation of the followers of the movement per se but it does reflect a possible indictor of potential warlordism based on the states of legitimation tests.

64. See also http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/03/sb-augustus-no-1173896326

65. Emdad for Islamic Charity is a good example of a Hezbollah NGO. http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/320/324/324.2/hizballah/emdad/index.html

66. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A26122-2002Jun21&notFound=; http://articles.cnn.com/2001-11-07/world/inv.terror.south_1_paraguayan-assad-ahmad-barakat-ciudad-del-este?_s=PM:WORLD.

67. As captured in ICG Middle East Report No. 39: An oft-cited example is that of Habib Sadeq, a left-wing Shiite politician. Sadeq ran on a list against Hizbollah and Amal in the 2000 parliamentary elections. He and his allies garnered over a third of Shiite votes in south Lebanon. See http://www.libanvote.com "It's a myth that Hizbollah and Amal control all the Shiites. They never received more than 60 per cent of the Shiite vote. Many Shiite leaders and prominent activists either joined or are close to the opposition, like Habib Sadeq, Hassan Amin [a writer] and the As'ad family". Crisis Group interview with leader of the Democratic Left Movement, Beirut, 1 March 2005. See ICG Middle East Report 39, pg. 17.

68. In the summer of 2000, the second Palestinian intifada (i.e., rebellion) began in the Palestinian territories and a truce was signed in November 2006 between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority.

69. In the interview with Al-Rai Al-Am, Nasrallah said the original offer made by the US following the Sept. 11 attacks contained three demands: to distinguish between acts of terrorism and what is legitimate according to the tenets of Islam; that Hizbullah renounces its support for the Palestinian intifada, severs ties with Syria, Hamas and Islamic Jihad and withdraw from the Arab-Israeli conflict; to provide intelligence on extremist Islamist groups possibly involved in the Sept. 11 attacks with which Hizbullah may have had contacts. In return, the US would “forgive” Hizbullah for its alleged involvement in the 1983 suicide bombings of the US embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut, which collectively claimed the lives of more than 300 people. “Of course we rejected all these offers because we believe it's a political bomb aimed at finishing off Hizbullah,” Nasrallah said. (Daily Star, November 17, 2001)

70. The qualification for non-military is intended to exclude tributes or other ‘follower-exploitation’ type of revenue streams (to the extent they are even detectable). If there are revenues derived from the organization functioning as a protection racket that will be accounted for in the states of legitimation tests portion of the analysis. Inclusion of potentially criminal operations as a recognized source is accounted for here and in the states of legitimation since it is not a form of exploitation of the followers of the movement per se but it does reflect a possible indictor of potential warlordism based on the states of legitimation tests.

71. This figure is drawn from Hamzeh 2004 and likely reflects membership numbers in the 2003 period. As a result, the 200,000 member number is likely inflated for late 2002 but suitable as an order of magnitude in terms of growth.

72. For example, the attack on the Israeli embassy in 1992, the Jewish Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6085768.stm) and the kidnapping campaign that I speak to in the commentary above.

73. See text of Hezbollah’s 1985 Open Letter in Amal and the Shi’a, by Richard Augustus Norton, University of Texas Press, 1987; especially references on pp. 175-

176: “Why do We Confront the Current Regime” and “Our Position Towards Opposition”.

74. Saad-Ghorayeb substitutes ‘intellectual structure’ for ideology since she believes that ideology warrants a view on a political, social and economic level. She believes that Hezbollah’s views do not include an economic dimension and, are therefore, not considered an ideology in the strictest sense of the term.

75. Transparency International tracks the level of corruption globally. See http://www.transparency.org/publications/gcr/gcr_2009 for a path to the GCR that reflects the relatively low (< 5 on their scale) of Lebanon with respect to the level of corruption.

76. All seven members on the Shura Council at that time were clerics (Hamzeh 2004). The Shura Council is, in my view, the Board of Directors of the organization – the senior policy and strategy body of the organization. Sayyid Nasrallah has been the Secretary General of that body since 1992 and, though a collective body in concept, Nasrallah would appear to be primus inter pares.

77. This very scenario seems to be playing out in the manner in which Hezbollah is handling the Special Tribunal on Lebanon regarding the investigation into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Harriri.

78. Clearly there are Maronite elites who would disagree with this statement in that the SLA and the Israelis were intent on reinforcing the Maronite hegemony in Lebanon.

79. Abdelal et al (2006) have provided the field a useful synthesis of the academy’s efforts to define Identity as a variable by developing a simple analytic framework. They have defined Collective identity along two axes: content and contestation. The content consists of four non-mutually exclusive elements: 1.) constitutive norms – the formal and informal rules that define group membership; 2.) social purposes – the goals that are shared by members of the group; 3.) relational comparisons – defining the group by what it is not; and, 4.) cognitive models – overall worldviews. Contestation levels reveal the level of ‘fluidity and the contextual nature of social identities.’ Contestation will allow the analyst to unpack the degree of agreement within the group (the organization and the society that is rendering its views on the legitimacy of the group) regarding the content of the Identity. It is this construction of Identity that I use as the basis for this part of the discussion.

80. See also the earlier discussion regarding the support for Hezbollah during US and western pressure to disarm them in the wake of the 9/11 event.


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