The Effects of Technological Globalization on the Legitimacy of Hezbollah

Globalization has affected terrorist organizations in much the same way it has effected broader society, providing unparalleled opportunities to many that previously had little. The extent to which globalization has begun to level the world is evident when examining the vast number of terrorist organizations utilizing the Internet and other globalized versions of technology in order to strengthen their political voice. The extent to which this new-found platform of technological globalization has led to increased legitimacy for the Lebanese Shi’a organization, Hezbollah is the subject of this paper. It is my a proposition that globalization – specifically technological globalization – has facilitated in an increase in the legitimacy of Hezbollah at the domestic level of analysis in three ways: it has facilitated the rise of an Islamic identity; it has allowed the organization to quickly and efficiently provide a broad variety of social services; and it facilitated the achievement of Hezbollah’s military objective (forcing Israeli troops out of Southern Lebanon) during the summer 2006 war. The domestic level that I refer to will encompass Lebanese Shia and non-Shia. While much less quantifiable, Hezbollah’s legitimacy has increased at the regional level as well, encompassing the broader Arab world. This will become evident throughout the paper however due to the difficultly in quantifying legitimacy at the regional level, in terms of my argument, I only specifically address the domestic level.

The structure of this essay will be as follows. In an effort to present most clearly the claim I am advancing, I will begin by defining the terms technological globalization and legitimacy, each of whose precise definitions are imperative to the substance of my thesis. A brief history of Hezbollah and an outline of its ideology will be followed by a short literature review summarizing what is and is not already known about the topic. A theoretic framework will then be presented within which the argument of this paper will be given context and relevance. Next, diagnostic assessments will be outlined detailing both the extent to which Hezbollah has embraced technological globalization and the extent to which the organization is seen as legitimate at the domestic level. These assessments will be followed by the analytical portion of the paper. Using secondary citation, I will link causality between Hezbollah’s manipulation of technological globalization and the organization’s increase in legitimacy. Several alternative explanations will then be outlined and following a brief conclusion, I will discuss policy recommendations based upon the findings of this research.


The term globalization has come to embody a myriad of implications and definitions. For our purposes, globalization will be defined as the following, “a multidimensional set of social processes that create, multiply, stretch, and intensify worldwide social interdependence and exchanges while at the same time fostering in people a growing awareness of deepening connections between the local and the distant.”[1] Specifically then, technological globalization refers to the ‘intensification and stretching’ of technological interrelations across the globe. When used within the confines of this paper, ‘technological globalization’ will encompass the following: all forms of media; the Internet; modern communication technology; modern military and weapons technology; modern transportation methods; modern construction and reconstruction technology.

Legitimacy, in like fashion is both an ambiguous yet incredibly significant term within the field of International Relations. In the interest of clarity and within the confines of this paper, legitimacy will be broadly defined as Max Weber defined it, “a conviction of the part of persons subject to authority that it is right and proper and that they have some obligation to obey, regardless of the basis on which the belief rests.”[2] Subsequently and more specifically, the extent to which the following criteria are evident at the domestic level, Hezbollah will be seen as being legitimate.

System level criteria:[3]

  • Are rulers accountable to the government via a process that allows wide, effective participation?
  • Is the government set up to accomplish society’s ends without undue waste of time or resources?
  • Procedural Fairness. Is the system structured to ensure that issues are resolved in a regular, predictable way and that access to decisional arenas are open and equal?
  • Distributive Fairness. Are the advantages and costs allocated by the system distributed equally or else deviations from prima facia equality explicitly justified on the grounds that define “fair shares” in terms of some long-run overarching equality principle?

Individual Level:[4]

  • Political Interest and Involvement. The psychological feeling that political participation is worth the opportunity cost of trading off time and commitment from other occupations.
  • Beliefs About Interpersonal and Social Relations Relevant to Collective Action. Expectations about the intentions and trustworthiness of other people.
  • Optimism About the Responsiveness of the Political System. Based on citizens’ perceptions of procedural and distributive fairness.

History and Historical Context

Hezbollah, the Party of God, began in 1982 and was birthed from within Lebanon, a state whose own origins are mired with deep fragmentation. With over 18 recognized religious sects, the state’s

history revolves around the interaction of Maronite Christians, Sunni Muslims, Shi’a Muslims, and to a lesser extent, Druze ethno-religious groups.[5] In the 1940’s, Lebanon’s Maronite and Sunni factions held a monopoly of economic and political power and established the National Pact in such a way as to maintain that hold on power. Within decades, Lebanon’s Shi’a population outpaced that of the Maronite and Sunni populations and the National Pact system did not account for their changing numbers, strength, and political activism. Thus, Shia underrepresentation was greatly exacerbated.

In 1970, the Palestinian Liberation Organization relocated to southern Lebanon and the already strained Lebanese social structure was further burdened. Five years later, with so many pressures and fragmentations, Lebanon slid into a civil war within which the Shia population was egregiously disadvantaged, having neither weapons nor an armed militia. In an effort to better represent and protect Shi’a interests, a young cleric named Musa al-Sadr formed The Movement of the Deprived and later, AMAL (the Lebanese Resistance Brigades). Several other increasingly radical Shi’a organizations began to develop and in 1982, in response to the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon, Shia revolutionaries birthed Hezbollah. It was undoubtedly “Lebanon’s domestic situation that provided fertile ground for the Shi’a radicalization that blossomed in the early 1980’s and coalesced into what would become Hezbollah.”[6]


Hezbollah’s ideology is greatly influenced by both Shi’a history and the success of the Iranian Revolution and is based on four key foundations. First, the cornerstone of its intellectual structure is the Islamic state ideal. “The organization aspires to be the establishment of a Lebanese theocracy both modeled after and tied to the Iranian example.”[7] Second, there is constant tension between oppressor

and the oppressed. Third, Hezbollah desires the extermination of Israel. And finally, the organization “believes in an inherent conflict between Islam and the ‘West’ though asserts that these differences and conflicting cultures do have the ability to maintain parallel and separate existences.”[8]

In 1985 , Hezbollah released an open letter addressed to the ‘Downtrodden in Lebanon and the World’ which clearly embodies its ideological underpinnings:

It is time to realize that all the Western ideas concerning man’s origin and nature cannot respond to man’s aspirations or             rescue him from the darkness of misguidedness and ignorance. Only Islam can bring about a man’s renaissance,                       progress, and creativity because ‘He lights with the oil of an olive tree that is neither Eastern nor Western, a tree whose               oil burns, even if not   touched by fire, to light the path. God leads to His light whomever he wishes.[9]

Today, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah is Hezbollah’s spiritual leader while Hassan Nasrallah is its senior political figure. The United States government estimates that at its core, Hezbollah consists of several thousand militants and activists.[10] “Hezbollah and its affiliates have planned or been linked to a lengthy series of terrorist attacks against the United States, Israel, and other Western targets” including:[11]

  • A series of kidnappings of Westerners in Lebanon, including several Americans, in the 1980s.
  • The suicide truck bombings that killed more than 200 U.S. Marines at their barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1983.
  • The 1985 hijacking of TWA flight 847, which featured the famous footage of the plane’s pilot leaning out of the cockpit with a gun to his head.
  • Two major attacks on Jewish targets in Argentina—the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy (killing twenty-nine) and the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center (killing ninety-five).
  • A July 2006 raid on a border post in northern Israel in which two Israeli soldiers were taken captive. The abductions sparked the 2006 Lebanon War.

Literature Review

On balance, the bulk of literature written about Hezbollah in regards to technological globalization is much more descriptive than it is analytical. Much of what is written simply describes how the organization has utilized technological advances and transnational integration to further its message and cause. Little has been written detailing the consequences of Hezbollah’s embrace of technological globalization and even less specifically attributing the organization’s use of globalization to its increase in legitimacy. That was the challenge of this paper – to organize what is known about Hezbollah’s extensive use of globalization, specifically in terms of technological globalization – and link this phenomenon to the increase in legitimacy the organization has enjoyed within the past decade domestically.

Bruce Hoffman’s book, Inside Terrorism, outlines the extent to which terrorist organizations like Hezbollah have run directly along side of globalization in an attempt to further their cause and spread their message. Hoffman begins the book by defining terrorism and summarizing the origins of what he identifies as contemporary terrorism. He discusses the internationalization of terrorism, religion and terrorism, suicide terrorism and then turns to a discussion of old media versus new media, terrorism and the subsequent shaping of global opinions.

Through the use of the Internet, “groups can disseminate their information undiluted by the media and untouched by government sensors. In 1998 it was reported that 12 of the 30 terrorist organizations identified by the US State Department had their own websites. Today, a majority of the 33 groups on the same list maintain an official on line presence.”[12]

Despite an exhaustive account of how specifically Hezbollah is utilizing the technological revolutions brought about by globalization, Hoffman does not explicitly link this to an increase in legitimacy or even discuss the significance and implications of the organization’s children’s magazine and video game. Furthermore, although Hoffman does not draw this conclusion either, the ability of these terrorist groups to, in effect, compete with the CIA and the United States Department of Defense in terms of counterintelligence shows a high level of professionalism and quite frankly, talent. It also provides a significant source of legitimacy to these organizations.

Audrey Kronin, in an article titled, Behind the Curve: Globalization and International Terrorism, argues that “the current wave of international terrorism, characterized by unpredictable and

unprecedented threats from non-state actors, is not only a reaction to globalization but is facilitated by it and that the U.S. response to this reality has been reactive and anachronistic.”[13] The article begins with a discussion of the history of terrorism, its origins and the motivations of terrorist organizations. Kronin outlines several key trends of modern terrorism including, “an increase in the incidence of religiously motivated attacks, a decrease in the overall number of attacks, an increase in the lethality per attack, and the growing number of American targets.”[14] Following a brief discussion of each of these trends, Kronin provides an analysis of the implications of these trends in terms of stability and security of the international community in general and more specifically for the United States and its allies.

First, the use of information technologies such as the Internet, mobile phones, and instant             messaging has extended the global reach of many terrorist groups… Second, globalization has   enabled terrorist organizations to reach across international borders, in the same way (and often    through the same channels) that commerce and business interests are linked. Third, terrorist     organizations are broadening their reach in gathering financial resources to fund their        operations.[15]

Finally, Kronin outlines the prospects of these trends and concludes with a range of policy recommendations which include: using a balanced assortment of instruments to address the immediate challenges of terrorists themselves; short term military action, informed by in-depth, longterm, sophisticated analysis; employing a much broader array of longer term policy tools to reshape the international environment that enables terrorist networks to breed and become robust; and finally, the mechanics of globalization need to be exploited to thwart the globalization of terrorism.[16]

Although a fairly general article with very general recommendations, Kronin’s recommendation that the United States employ a much broader array of longer term policy tools to reshape the international environment could definitely include measures to counter the increasing legitimacy enjoyed by organizations such as Hezbollah – something that cannot possibly be countered militarily.

In his article, Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror, author Michael Mousseau argues that because it is necessary to change the values and beliefs associated with terrorists, in order to “win the war against terror, the United States and its allies must have both a military strategy and a political strategy.”[17] The main argument of the paper however, is that neither the traditional rational or cultural explanations for terror are sufficient, and that the most complete explanation for the causes of terrorism is an inherent clash between clientalist economies and market economies.

In clientalist economies, the obligations of cooperating parties are implied (rather than made explicit) and take the form of reciprocity, or gift giving…in market economies, in contrast, the mutual obligations of cooperating parties are made explicit in the form of contracts. Unlike in clientalist economies, therefore, in market economies, strangers and even enemies can cooperate in prescribed ways. The implications of this are profound: The norm of cooperating with strangers on the basis of legal equality is the logical prerequisite for respecting the rule of common law. Because contractual obligations are explicit, a state can enforce them, and a market economy can emerge if a state is willing and able to enforce contracts with impartiality. In these ways, markets develop and the liberal values of individualism, universalism, tolerance and equality emerge concurrently with the rule of common law and democratic governance.[18]

Mousseau claims that although there are differences within the developing world, “traditional clientalist protections tend to be the strongest in rural areas” and that Urban areas tend to be in the throws of evolving into “new patron-client networks”[19]. Mousseau credits the clash of market versus cliental systems as one of the many “sources of social anarchy in developing countries” and as an impetus to terrorism.[20]

Although the character of these movements varies, the catalyst is them same: bitter opposition to market (liberal) values. Herein lays the source of today’s widespread anti-American-ism and anti- Westernism: The liberal way of life in the United States and the rest of the West – its cold materialism, from the clientalist perspective – is being broadcast to homes around the world, many of which are transitioning to market economies. In this way, just as the Jews symbolized emerging market norms in Europe a century ago, today, with modern technology, American and Western culture symbolizes the dreaded market norms linked with globalization.[21]

Terrorist leaders, many of whom, according to Mousseau, hold privileged positions in the old clientalist hierarchies, seek to rally support and maintain power by manipulating Islam “to serve their own ends.”[22] He then identifies three myths that he has seen emerge since 9/11: to win minds and hearts of people around the world in the world, the U.S. must do more to signal its friendly intentions; the U.S. should push harder for democracy in developing countries; and finally, if people who detest

the United States only had greater exposure to American values, their hatred would dissipate. Mousseau, addressing each of these myths outlines why each of them is inaccurate and then offers his solution to defeating terrorism.

To win the war against terrorism, the United States and other market democracies must remove the underlying causes               of terror: the deeply embedded anti-market rage brought on by forces of globalization. To do this, the market                               democracies have only one option: to boost developing countries out of the mire of social anarchy and into market                     development.[23]

This article brings to light the effects of economic globalization on terrorist organizations and paints a clear picture of how some living in developing countries may see the United States and the spread of its market economy. However, the weakness of this article lies in the fact that it gives entirely too much credit to the effects of economic globalization as an impetus for terrorism. Despite the fact that the spread of market economies and thus liberal values may be seen as imperialist and individualistic, there are other reasons as to why it is seen this way. Historical influences, the consequences of colonialism, the consequences of past attempts at forced structural adjustment and domestic issues of poverty, mis-education and the like all have a very prominent place in the discussion of what are the roots of terrorism. The clash between market and clientalist economies may be both real and significant, but it is not a root, it is a consequence of other factors that are not accounted for by this author.

Augustus Norton’s book, Hezbollah, acts as a general reference to the history of the organization itself. A thorough and very clear piece, Norton paints a picture of an organization that has, from its beginnings, displayed flexible and innovative characteristics that have facilitated in its achievement of legitimacy thus far. He describes the rise of the Shi’a organization as being a response to the lack of political representation and the 1982 Israeli invasion and provides a chapter on Hezbollah’s decision to participate in the 1992 elections.

Finally, In her essay titled Cybercortical Warfare: The Case of, Maura Conway provides an analysis of the adoption of a strategy of cybercortical warfare by Hezbollah. The paper represents a case study of the possibilities of new technology for the conduct of what she has termed ‘cybercortical warfare’ and which originally stems from Richard Szafransk’s concept of neo-cortical warfare:

Neocortical warfare (NW) attaches more importance to communicating with other minds than targeting objects. NW                   points to the reframing of conflict as a warfare against minds and envisions its weapons as any means used to change               the enemy’s will. It is founded on the belief that at its base politics is the pursuit and eventual exercise of power, and                   that ‘power’ is the ability to influence people who otherwise might not choose to be influenced.[24]

Conway asserts that Hezbollah has utilized the Internet in its own campaign of neo-cortical warfare. The group’s collection of Web sites is targeted not at Lebanese or Palestinian audiences, but at the Israeli population and the global public as a whole.[25] States and their representatives are not the only actors utilizing diplomacy today. Non-state actors and broadly speaking, the general public can now attain a sort of ‘diplomatic’ status via technology.

We are seeing the the development of a new public diplomacy. This idea has a double meaning. Firstly, that we are                     seeing diplomacy – understood in the broad sense as the practice of international relations – taking place in public and               the public being involved. Secondly, that the central instrument of this new diplomacy is actually Public Diplomacy: that             is communication and communications technologies (3).

Conway argues that terrorist groups are taking advantage of the changes in technology in an effort to pursue their desired ends and suggests that this might be an improvement, keeping in mind that

“words are cheaper than lives.”[26] Although briefly, she alluded to the fact that Hezbollah, through its television station al-Manar and its accurate account of death tolls, has gained legitimacy throughout the Arab world and abroad. Furthermore, and as previously stated, her conclusion cites international legitimacy as a possible explanation for the European Union and the United Nations’ restraint towards listing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Theoretical Framework

The theoretical framework within which the argument of this paper (that Hezbollah’s embrace of technological globalization has facilitated in an increase in its legitimacy) can be most clearly understood is that of Constructivism and more specifically within the context of soft power. The transition from a large group of isolated Arab Middle Eastern states with individually state regulated media to a world where media and political influence are now in the hands of many means that the significant and influential aspects of soft power are also in the hands of many and can be utilized by all.

Joseph Nye, considered to be the ‘father of soft power’ defines it as “the ability to get others to do what you want.”[27] In regards to information, Nye makes a distinction between free information (i.e. scientific information, advertising, political propaganda) commercial information (i.e. information that is sold) and strategic information (i.e. information that is useful because it is possessed by one actor, but not others) and sees the most important shift concerns to be that of free information. “The ability to disseminate free information increases the potential for persuasion in world politics.” [28] The seemingly sudden increase in the influence of soft power combined with the ability for virtually anyone to engage in diplomatic behavior via the Internet, has created an opportunity that Hezbollah has taken great advantage of.

Diagnostic Assessment: Hezbollah’s Embrace of Technological Globalization

Hezbollah has very purposefully embraced technological globalization. Through its use of the Internet, television, print media and video game technology, the organization disseminates its messages to a wide demographic audience both within and outside the borders of Lebanon. Hezbollah is one of the most prominent non state actors utilizing technological globalization for its purposes.

Middle East Arab terrorist organizations in particular are seen as being on the cutting edge of organizational networking,             having demonstrated an ability to harness information technology for offensive operations, as well as using the more                   typical propaganda, fund-raising, and recruiting purposes of other groups. Perhaps the preeminent group in this                         respect, and one of the first to harness fully the communications power of the Web, is Hezbollah.[29]

Hezbollah maintains more than fifty websites, many of which are published in French, English and Arabic.[30] Its most popular sites receives “between one and three thousand hits per day,” from both Israeli and Western audiences. This same site includes a section titled, ‘Daily Operations’ which displays the organization’s to-date ‘operational successes’ – which translates to a precise account of the number of dead “martyrs, along with the number of Israeli enemies and collaborators killed.” Because many Israelis monitor the sites to gain accurate information about casualty numbers, many argue that Hezbollah’s primary aim is to “influence public debate in Israel about withdrawal from Lebanon.”[31]

Nearly 10% of the Middle East’s population uses the Internet – a 490% increase since 2000.[32] Lebanon alone “reports 700,000 users, or 15.4% of its population and accounts for 3.6% of Middle East Internet usage.”[33]

Hezbollah also operates the television station Al-Manar, or ‘the Beacon’. Since its inception in June of 1991, the station has grown from a clandestine operation to a comprehensive satellite station broadcasting news, commentary and entertainment. Within its first few years, the station aired 5 hours a day and barely reached Beirut’s southern suburbs. Strategically, by the 1996 Parliamentary Elections, Hezbollah was broadcasting throughout all of Lebanon, Western Syria and Northern Israel and by early 2001, al-Manar was on air twenty-four hours a days, seven days a week via satellite, embracing an entirely new demographic and audience.

Calling itself the ‘station of resistance,’ al-Manar has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s plan to reach the entire                   Arab and Muslim world. As a disseminator of radicalism throughout the region, al-Manar has an impact second only to               al-Jazeera… al-Manar represents the darker side of the media revolution in the Arab world. It is one more example of                   how new technologies,born  of the West, may be exploited to promote profoundly anti-Western agendas.” [34]

In 2003, Hezbollah created the video game Special Forces. The game is based on reality, specifically the Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1978 and 1982. “We decided to produce a game that would be educational for our future generations and for all freedom lovers of this world of ours. Special Forces will render you a partner of the resistance.”[35] The game can be played in Arabic, English, French and Persian and when released in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, sold out its first run of 8,000 copies within one week.[36] Special Forces is just one example of the adaptive qualities demonstrated by Hezbollah and its determination to embrace all forms of modern technology to reach its desired ends.

Hezbollah’s use of specific tactics and weapon technologies, its flexibility in keeping up to date and its ability to successfully utilize technological globalization for its purposes is indicative of a technologically globalized mindset and vision.

Success for terrorists is dependent upon their ability to keep one step ahead of not only the authorities but also counter             terrorist technology. The terrorist group’s fundamental organizational imperative to act also drives this persistent search             for new ways to overcome or circumvent or defeat governmental security and countermeasures.[37]

As was evident in the 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah has greatly embraced high intelligence and weapons technology. The organization continually surprised Israel and the United States with its use of modern weapons and intelligence technology.

Diagnostic Assessment: Hezbollah’s Domestic Legitimacy

As was previously outlined, within the confines of this paper, the extent to which Hezbollah is deemed legitimate will be based upon the extent to which it meets the following criteria on the systemic level: accountability; efficiency; procedural fairness; and distributive fairness. On the individual level, the legitimacy of Hezbollah will be measured by: political interest and involvement; beliefs about interpersonal and social relation relevant to collective action; and optimism regarding the responsiveness of the political system.

Regarding accountability, Hezbollah has participated in state elections with Lebanon since 1992. The organization deemed this decision to participate critical to its continued strive for legitimacy and is yet another example of how Hezbollah has been ever-willing to adjust in order to achieve its goals and objectives.

            Because revolutionary transition to Islamic rule and an Islamic state was impossible in the diverse Lebanese society,                   gradual reform action was necessary… Fadlallah, the Shia cleric emphasized the need to come to a modus vivendi with             the states rather than remain outside the    political system and judge it as abhorrent in strictly Islamic terms.[38]

Hezbollah won eight seats in the Lebanese parliament in the 1992 elections, eight seats in 1996 and fourteen seats in both 2004 and 2008. In August of 2008, the Lebanese parliament approved a national unity cabinet, giving Hezbollah and its allies veto power with eleven of thirty cabinet seats.[39] Because Hezbollah participates in these elections and because the elections include universal adult suffrage in multi-member constituencies apportioned among the diverse Christian and Muslim denominations, we can conclude that yes, Hezbollah could be held accountable. The rulers of Lebanon, which include members of Hezbollah are accountable to the government and its people via the electoral process.

In terms of procedural and distributive fairness, parliamentary seats are divided equally between Christians and Muslims” and since 2004, international election observers have monitored the Lebanese elections.[40] In 2004, Vice President – then U.S. Senator – Joe Biden and a 100-member European Union delegation monitored voter registration, campaigns, and voting and “approved the elections as free of foreign influence and fair.”[41] Therefore, in terms of distributive and procedural fairness, Hezbollah functions within a system that is structured to ensure that issues are resolved in a regular predictable way and that access to decisional arenas is open and equal and therefore, may be deemed as legitimate.

Finally, in terms of efficiency, Hezbollah has time and again proven itself much more efficient than the Lebanese government. They all but displaced the government by providing a plethora of programs, institutions and aid to Lebanese citizens who have otherwise been provided virtually no government social safety net. During the 2006 war with Israel, “when there was no running water in Beirut, Hezbollah was arranging supplies around the city… they did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools.”[42] Hezbollah is able to accomplish society’s ends without undue waste of time and resources. On the individual level, which takes into account public opinion, Hezbollah is also deemed legitimate. The increase in parliamentary seats gained by the organization in successive elections is evidence that there is a sense of political interest and involvement. In terms of individual expectation about the intentions and trustworthiness of Hezbollah, one need only look to opinion polls. Hassan Nassrallah is the most admired leader in the Arab world today.[43] Again, the continual increase in popular support and parliamentary seats is evidence of the individual optimism about the responsiveness of the political system. In sum, Hezbollah, by way of meeting both systemic and individual criteria, can be deemed a legitimate organization within Lebanon.


Hezbollah’s extensive use of technological globalization has facilitated in an increase in the organization’s legitimacy in three primary ways. First, it has facilitated in the rise of an Islamic identity. Second, it has allowed the organization to quickly and efficiently provide a broad variety of social services that the government has not. Finally, it facilitated in forcing Israeli troops out of Southern Lebanon during the summer 2006 war again, accomplishing something the government could not.

Premise 1

Hezbollah’s embrace of technological globalization has helped facilitate the rise of an Islamic Identity. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in1923 by Britain and France, a once unified Arab state was divided into more than twenty. The borders, though they lacked legitimacy, were used to weaken and reduce the power of the Islamic nation and Arab people as a whole. Efforts to create any sense of Pan-Arabism were viewed by state regimes as a the threat to power. Any and all media was government owned and rigidly controlled in an attempt to thwart debate, discussion and commonality. Most Arab intellectuals were killed, put into prison or exiled so as not to put pressure on regimes. Almost two centuries later and among the same divided Arab states, no extensive amount of cooperation exists. The interests of each regime and the domestic politics within each state continues to dominate the political framework of the Middle East though cracks are beginning to emerge.

Technological advances and the globalization of the Media have increased the interaction capacity among all people including of course Arabs. Thus, the same Arab intellectuals that were expelled and most of whom now reside in the United States and France are able to speak to each other and to the average Arab citizen via television and the Internet. Al-Manar, along with al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya and other transnational news services are transcending state power and nationalism and creating a new brand of Arab and Islamic identity. Hezbollah recognizes and capitalizes on this. With al-Manar second only to al-Jazeera in terms of popularity and viewership in the Arab world, the organization has a significant amount of influence on the region as a whole and has subsequently aided in the creation and rise of this Islamic identity.

The relatively recent rise of an Islamic identity has led to an increase in the legitimacy of Hezbollah. By being able to reach across state lines and lift Islam above nationalism through its use of modern media, Hezbollah is beginning to be seen as more and more legitimate.

Premise 2

Hezbollah’s embrace of technology has allowed it to efficiently provide services to Lebanese citizens that the government has not. The organization has created and offers an array of social services including: construction companies; dispensaries; micro-finance initiatives; an environmental department; a myriad of news services; twelve schools; four hospitals; two agricultural centers; and an extensive social assistance program.[44]   This wide variety of services necessitates the use of a myriad of modern, technologically advance equipment, including modes of communication, planning, and construction. Timely acquisition of these services is perpetuated by the fact that Hezbollah designates several channels of its television station al-Manar to advertise each of its social services and educational institutions.[45]

The Lebanese government proves no match to Hezbollah’s efficiency. A final estimate of the damage accumulated during the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel sits just above $3.5 billion.[46] Immediately following the end of the war and in contrast to the Lebanese government which was “virtually absent in the southern suburbs of Beirut,” Hezbollah provided Lebanese citizens whose homes were destroyed $10,000 for furniture and alternative accommodations.[47]

Ali Bazzi, mayor of Bint Jbeil, a town that was the scene of heavy fighting whose  reconstruction has been funded by                   Qatar, is scathing about the government. ‘After the war, the only official who came to help was Hezbollah’s Mohammad             Fneish, the then Minister of Energy and Water. ‘The next day the electricity was on.’[48]

Hezbollah is “the most experienced in Lebanon within the field of reconstruction.”[49] The

organization’s construction wing, Jihad al-Binaa (“reconstruction campaign”) numbers near 2,000 workers and consists of a broad array of professionals including contractors, engineers, architects and demolition experts.[50] Many of these workers have been educated in the West and bring with them both the knowledge and experience of working with modern technology. Hezbollah has proven willing and able to provide the modern and technologically advanced tools its workers need to ensure they can quickly and efficiently serve the people of Lebanon. By providing services that the government will or cannot, Hezbollah has facilitated an increase in its own legitimacy.

Premise 3

Hezbollah’s use of technological globalization greatly aided them in accomplishing their primary military objective during the 2006 war with Israel on two fronts. First, Hezbollah’s use of modern military equipment, weapons and technology aided them in being able to accomplish their military objective. By using high-tech intelligence gathering information, Hezbollah was able to decipher Israeli codes enabling them to thwart Israeli tank assaults and identify the locations of specific Israeli troops.

Hezbollah’s ability to intercept and decode Israeli transmissions underscores how the Shia group had higher military capabilities than many Israeli and U.S. officials thought. Intelligence gathering was essential to fighting this war. Hezbollah appears to have collected better information than the Israelis.[51]

In addition to high-tech intelligence gathering, Hezbollah continually surprised Israel with their deployment of new missiles and battlefield tactics.[52]

Second, through its exploitation of the Media, Hezbollah created a powerful weapon which it utilized effectively to wage and win an information war alongside its military war. Not until the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel have journalists portrayed the reality of war in absolute real-time. In addition to bombing raids, live footage of their immediate aftermath including bloodied civilians and destroyed infrastructure were captured and aired.[53] With this technological transformation “the camera and the computer have become weapons of war” as well as an intelligence asset.[54]

It is on the “information battlefield” that the historic struggle between Western modernity and Islamic fundamentalism                 will ultimately be resolved. The new element of power that has emerged in the last thirty to forty years and has                             subsumed the rest is information. A revolution happened without us knowing or paying attention. Perception truly now               is reality and Hezbollah knows it.[55]

Hezbollah very purposefully invited journalists into battle sites and encouraged them to take pictures of Lebanese civilians killed or maimed in Israeli attacks.[56] Hezbollah conducted media tours of Beirut suburbs in which journalists would be shown areas of destruction and were instructed to take photographs. They were not allowed to ask their own questions of any residents. At one point and apparently on cue, a Hezbollah official guiding the tour “signaled for ambulances to rev their engines, set off their sirens, and drive noisily down the street. The scene was orchestrated, designed to provide a photo op, and reporters went along for the ride.”[57] This tactic led to a disproportionality among not only Arab but Western Media agencies.

On their own websites and news services, Hezbollah displayed images deemed far too gruesome by Western media outlets and is suspected of having doctored numerous images in an attempt to heighten the drama of real events. Hezbollah has also been accused of staging dead bodies in varying locations to provide ‘better’ photographs. It is a result of their exploitation of the media that, “in the war of information, news, and propaganda – the battlefield central to Hezbollah’s strategy – Israel lost this war.”[58]

Hezbollah’s exploitation of the Media and its use of modern weapons, tactics and technology during the 2006 war has facilitated an increase in its legitimacy in three ways. First, by starting the war with Israel, Hezbollah assumed control of the act of declaring war, a matter generally alloted to state government as a part of state sovereignty and for all intents and purposes, no one argued. Thus, with the sovereignty and legitimacy of the Lebanese government under question, Hezbollah’s sovereignty and legitimacy has subsequently risen.

To whom does the prerogative of deciding matters of war and peace belong? If the answer is         any entity other than the Lebanese state – as appeared to be the case in July 2006, when   Hezbollah unilaterally attacked Israel – then Lebanese sovereignty remains glaringly incomplete. It must be established that no party has the right to engage in armed activity against another country unless specifically directed to do so by the Lebanese state.[59]

Second, Hezbollah accomplished its military objective against Israel – a powerful, wealthy, U.S. backed power – something the Lebanese government has not even attempted. Since the October War in 1973, Washington has provided Israel with a level of support dwarfing the amounts provided to any

other state despite the fact that Israel’s per capita is roughly that of South Korea or Spain.[60] Israel receives $3 billion each year from the United States and enjoys its almost unparalleled backing and support in terms of its own foreign policy making. In the summer of 2006, Hezbollah – a non state actor – was able to fight and accomplish its military objective in a war against Israel. “In strictly military terms, Israel did not lose to Hezbollah in this war, but it clearly did not win.”[61] This feat alone heightened its legitimacy within Lebanon and throughout the Arab world.

Alternative Explanations

Hezbollah’s embrace of technological globalization has definitively led to an increase in its legitimacy. It has not been however, the only factor. It may even be argued that some of its accomplishments – achieved by way of its embrace of technological globalization – have actually challenged their legitimacy. For example,

Some experts say Hezbollah’s use of force in the West Beirut showdown has eroded the group’s credibility. In a May 2008 report, the International Crisis Group warned that a line had been       crossed that would likely deepen the already tenuous sectarian tensions among Lebanon’s ruling   and opposition parties.[62]

Two of the most prevalent alternative explanations as to the rise in the legitimacy of Hezbollah are the success of the Iranian Revolution and the failure of the secular state. Having achieved a Caliphate within Iran, Muslims who desire similar ends have been given hope and many see the fulfillment of this desire as coming through Hezbollah. In terms of the failure of the Lebanese state, it is true that its lack of effective governance has left a void. However, this void alone cannot account for Hezbollah’s improved legitimacy but rather providing an opportunity. Hezbollah must have effectively

utilized and capitalized on something the government was not able to – technological globalization to provide broad and efficient social services, compete with Israel and embolden the rise of an Islamic identity.


Since its formal inception in 1982, Hezbollah has worked fervently to become what it is today – a virtual state within a state. It has participated in elections earning a consistently increasing number of seats and has time and again proven more effective and efficient than the Lebanese government. By embracing and purposefully utilizing all aspects of technological globalization, Hezbollah has been able to provide a plethora of social services, wage war with Israel, and help facilitate the rise of an Islamic identity, transcending national borders. By means of these accomplishments, the organization has facilitated an increase in its own legitimacy. What began as an effort to represent and give political, economic and social resources to the once underrepresented Shia population within Lebanon has evolved into the Hezbollah of today – one of the most powerful and resourceful terrorist organizations in the world.

Hezbollah has reached the status it enjoys today by being flexible, inventive and willing to challenge its own beliefs in order to remain effective and relevant to its Lebanese and Arab constituency. Hezbollah entered the political arena in 1992. It provides services to Christians and Druze as well as its Shia supporters and it utilizes Western ideas to further its pursuit of an Islamic theocracy. If history is any guide, Hezbollah will continue to evolve, seek to become more effective and appeal to a broader and broader audience. As we have seen, they have already utilized technological globalization and though not addressed in this paper, most other forms of globalization to their advantage including economic and political globalization. Hezbollah is willing to continually challenge itself whenever is necessary to further its message and reach its objectives. The question then is, will we?

Policy Recommendations

The Council on Foreign Relations must actively pursue research on the effects of groups such as Hezbollah utilizing technological and other forms of globalization, as there currently exists very little on the subject. Globalization in all its form must be exploited in such as way as to mitigate their effects on organizations such as Hezbollah. However, we must first recognize how their use of globalization is effecting their aim, objective and legitimacy. An information war is being waged and we’ve yet to realize it.

Second, organizations such as Hezbollah are becoming ever more adaptive and so must we. The United States must be able to challenge and change some of our ineffective assumptions and policies in order to win both the information war being waged as well as the ‘war on terror’. Incredibly mixed signals have been sent from the United States to the world regarding democracy. With its refusal to recognize Hamas within the West Bank, Hezbollah in Lebanon and its history of implanting and supporting non-democratic regimes in an effort to assure pro-Western rule groups such as Hezbollah have ample material with which to propagate anti-Western ideals to their advantage. Organizations like and including Hezbollah have used this to their advantage. It is time that the United States begin to deal with regimes who have been elected democratically regardless of whether or not the regime holds U.S. interests in mind. This would include, to the extent that they are present within the Lebanese parliament, Hezbollah.

Third, the United States must stop being reactive and begin to formulate counterterrorism methods that will prevent rather than mitigate terrorist acts. It needs to implement a fundamental shift away from its emphasis on ad-hoc responses to the strategic level of terrorism and towards a focus on the root causes working at the operational level. “The interests of those using political violence matter if we are to understand why they resort to terrorism or some other form of political violence.”[63] Thus far, in its attempt to end terrorism, the United States has spent billions of dollars on efforts to enhance airport and border security, the management of consequences and mitigating damage to life and property. “These are obviously important parts of a comprehensive strategy but strategy for homeland security ought to begin on the other end of the causal chain – addressing what causes or induces groups, movements, or insurgencies to form and then what leads them to foment terrorist acts.”[64] The United States must begin to help mitigate the grievances of these populations rather than respond to their final actions. Through diplomacy, funding and support given to reestablish failing states, and efforts to create viable options for citizens of countries who feel they have none would all be steps in the right direction.

Finally, in regards to terrorism, the United States needs to begin to pro actively influence the broader Muslim community of which the terrorists consider to be their target audience. As we have seen, Hezbollah is a multidimensional group that engages on several fronts simultaneously. “The long-term strategic threat that it poses to international security is the politicization and radicalization of Muslims, a phenomenon that has gone unchallenged by the West as well as by Middle Eastern and Asian Muslims countries.”[65] If governments and civil society respond only to the military threat of Hezbollah and groups like it and not to their ideological challenge, in the long run these organizations will have no difficulty in recruiting more terrorists. There are 1.3 Muslims worldwide – most being absorbed in their daily lives with no inclination to terror or extremism. By contrast, the innermost circle is made up of Islamists, perhaps 50-100,000 radical jihadists bent on the West’s destruction, and against whom hard power is the only viable response. In the middle, however, are millions of Muslims either living in the West of Western-educated who, under the right circumstances, could be persuaded to support terrorism…this is the group the United States most urgently needs to cultivate.[66]

As was previously discussed, thanks to the globalization of mass media, there is now transnational media coming out of, and reaching into, the Arab Middle East of which Hezbollah has played a large role. Influence upon the broad group of Muslims being reached can be achieved by identifying this target audience, marginalizing the message of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, and developing counter stereotypes. By offsetting terrorist propaganda and utilizing new Arab media outlets such as al-Jazeera the United States can try to claim some amount of influence. [67] Muslims around the world are debating each other and state regimes are losing the legitimacy they have had as a result of controlling all information.[68] The greatest opportunity for the United States and Hezbollah is this opening up of the Arab world. Hezbollah knows this, do we?


Allers, Jackson. Hezbollah Ahead of Government Again. September 12, 2006.

Allers, Jackson. Hezbollah Construction Wing Leaves Government in the Dust. Final News.       Sept 6, 2006.

A New Angle on Hezbollah’s Weapons. Al-Arabiya December, 2008.

Bazzi, Mohamad. Hezbollah Cracked the Code.

Conway, Maura. Cybercortical Warfare: The Case of Paper was prepared for                                 presentation at the European Consortium for Political Research, Edinburgh, UK.

Council on Foreign Relations Staff. Hezbollah.               %20on%20Foreign%20Relations. Accessed January 12, 2009.

Government Red Tape Competes with Hezbollah Efficiency in Reconstruction. Gulf News.Com. Red Tape Competes with     Hezbollah Efficiency in Reconstruction. Financial Times. s/aftermath/10138942.html.           Accessed December 20, 2009.

Hezbollah Computer Game Takes Propaganda War on Israel to Virtual Battlefield. Jefferson City,            Missouri. New Tribune, July 23, 2004. Accessed February 13, 2009.

Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia Press, 2006.

Jorisch, Avi. Al Manar: Hezbollah TV 24/7. The Middle East Quarterly. Winter, 2004. Vol.11. No. 1.

Kalb, Marvin and Carol Saivetz. “The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in             Asymmetrical Conflict.” The Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics. Vol. 12, no. 3,         43-66 (2007).

Kronin, Audrey Kurth. Behind the Curve: Globalization and International Terrorism. Journal of             International Security. Vol. 27, No. 3. pp. 30-58.

Pan, Esther. Lebanon: Election Results. Council on Foreign Relations.

http.// Accessed February 10, 2009.

Mearsheimer, John J., Stephen M. Walt. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Farrar, Strauss and Giroux: New York, 2007.

Mousseau, Michael. Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror. Journal of International Security.

Vol. 27, No. 3. pp 5-29.

Norton, Augustus Richard. Hezbollah. Oxford: Princeton University Press. 2007.

Silverstein, Ken. August Norton On Hezbollah’s Social Services. Harpers Magazine. March, 2007.

Stege, Manfred. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press: 2003.

Telhami, Shelby. 2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll. Survey of the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland. . Accessed March 2, 2009.

Uphoff, Norman. “Distinguishing Power, Authority & Legitimacy: Taking Max Weber at His Word by      Using Resources-Exchange Analysis.” Polity. Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter, 1989), 301.

Weatherford, Stephen. “Measuring Political Legitimacy”. The American Political Science Review Vol.      86, No. 1 (Mar., 1992) pp.149-166

Weimann, Gabriel. Hezbollah Dot Com: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign.  rdonlyres/34396BDB-6C0E-4931-A077-697451885123/34393/Weimannedited.pdf.          Accessed January 2, 2009.



[1]   Manfred Stege. Globalization: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press: 2003. 13.

[2]                      Norman Uphoff. “Distinguishing Power, Authority & Legitimacy: Taking Max Weber at His Word by Using Resources-

Exchange Analysis.” Polity,Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter, 1989). 310.

[3]                   Norman Uphoff. “Distinguishing Power, Authority & Legitimacy: Taking Max Weber at His Word by Using Resources-

Exchange Analysis.” Polity,Vol. 22, No. 2 (Winter, 1989). 310.

[4]                   Ibid.

[5]             Richard Wrona Jr. Lebanon, Hezbollah, and the Patrons of Terrorism (Chapter out of book).

[6]   Ibid.

[7]   Ibid.

[8]             Richard Wrona Jr. Lebanon, Hezbollah, and the Patrons of Terrorism (Chapter out of book).

[9]   Augustus Richard Norton. Hezbollah. Ford: Princeton University Press. 2007.

[10] Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed January 14, 2009.

[11] Ibid.

[12]        Maura Conway. Cybercortical Warfare: The Case of Paper was prepared for presentation at the        European Consortium for Political Research, Edinburgh, UK, 28 March, 2003.

[13] Audrey Cronin. Behind the Curve: Globalization and International Terrorism. 30.

[14] Ibid. 42.

[15] Ibid. 50.

[16] Ibid. 55.

[17]        . Michael Mousseau. Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror. 5.

[18]         Ibid.11.

[19] Michael Mousseau. Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror. 16.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid. 20.

[22]        Ibid.

[23] Michael Mousseau. Market Civilization and Its Clash with Terror. 24.

[24] Maura Conway. NeoCortical Warfare: The Case of 2.

[25]        Ibid.7.

[26] Maura Conway. NeoCortical Warfare: The Case of

[27] Joseph S. Nye, Joanne J. Meyers. The Means to Success in World Politics. Speech. Carnegie Council.

[28]        Maura Conway. Cybercortical Warfare: The Case of Paper was prepared for presentation at the       European Consortium for Political Research, Edinburgh, UK, 28 March, 2003. 3.

[29]         Bruce Hoffman. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia Press, 2006. 207.

[30] Gabriel Weimann. Hezbollah Dot Com: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign. 10.

[31]         Bruce Hoffman. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia Press, 2006. 207.

[32] Gabriel Weimann. Hezbollah Dot Com: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Avi Jorisch. Al Manar: Hezbollah TV 24/7. The Middle East Quarterly. Winter, 2004. Vol.11. No. 1.

[35]        Hoffman, Bruce. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia Press, 2006. 209.

[36]        “Hezbollah Computer Game Takes Propoganda War on Israel to Virtual Battlefield”. Jefferson City, Missouri. New Tribune, July 23, 2004. Accessed February 13, 2009.

[37]         Bruce Hoffman. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia Press, 2006. 245.

[38] Bruce Hoffman. Inside Terrorism. New York: Columbia Pres. 2006. 99.

[39] CFR Staff. Hezbollah (a.k.a. Hizbollah, Hibu’llah). Council on Foreign Relations. August 13, 2008. Accessed December 13, 2009.

[40] Esther Pan. Lebanon: Election Results. Council on Foreign Relations. http.// Accessed February 10, 2009.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Jackson Allers. Hezbollah Ahead of Government Again. September 12, 2006. Retrieced. January 18, 2009.

[43] Shelby Telhami. 2008 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll. Survey of the Anwar Sadat Chair for Peace nad Development at the University of Maryland.

[44] Ken Silverstein. August Norton On Hezbollah’s Social Services. Harpers Magazine. March, 2007.

[45] Gabriel Weimann. Hezbollah Dot Com: Hezbollah’s Online Campaign. 9.

[46] Government Red Tape Compete with Hezbollah Efficiency in Reconstruction. Financial Times.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Ibid.

[49] Jackson Allers. Hezbollah Ahead of Government Again. September 12, 2006. Retrieced. January 18, 2009.

[50] Jackson Allers. Hezbollah Construction Wing Leaves Government in the Dust. Final News. Sept 6, 2006. Accessed January 22,009.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Marvin Calb Kalb and Carol Saivetz. The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Marvin Calb Kalb and Carol Saivetz. The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict.

[59] A New Angle on Hezbollah’s Weapons. Al-Arabiya December, 2008. Accessed January 3, 2009.

[60] John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt. The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Council on Foreign Relations. Hezbollah. Accessed on January 11, 2009.

[63] Rohan Gutarantna. Inside Terrorism: A Global Network of Terror. Berkley Books, New York. 2002.

[64] Ibid. 13.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Rohan Gutarantna. Inside Terrorism: A Global Network of Terror. Berkley Books, New York. 2002.. 61.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Raslan Ibrahim. Globalization and Regional Orders: The Arab World. Foreign Policy Conference. The Middle East: Ongoing Security Dilemmas. October 25, 2008.

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