The 2006 War in Lebanon: A Marxist Explanation
On July 12, 2006, Hizbullah forces near the Lebanese town of Ayta ash Shab crossed the Israeli border and attacked an Israeli army patrol, killing three soldiers and capturing two others. For 33 days a war ensued between Hizbullah and Israel, while internationally the United States sought to give Israel time to achieve victory by obstructing the imposition of a cease-fire. This war was foreseeable as many of the causes of this conflict had been in place before July 12. This thesis aims to identify the long-, medium-, and short-term causes of the 2006 War in Lebanon. To identify the long-term causes this work constructs a Marxist theoretical framework to reveal and analyse the structural interests and conflicts between Hizbullah, and the United States and Israel. For Hizbullah, the historical catalysts for the party’s rise to power are combined with Gilbert Achcar’s Marxist theorisation on the modern resurgence of Islamism, to create an original historical materialist account of the Party of God. The structural interests of the United States in this period are identified by studying the 2003 invasion of Iraq using Global Oil Spigot theory, a contemporary Marxist theory of imperialism developed by David Harvey. Watchdog State theory, as advocated by John Rose, is the final component of this theoretical framework and identifies the long-term causes of Israel’s belligerence in 2006. The long- and medium-term causes of the war arise from a contradiction between the structural interests of Hizbullah, and the United States and Israel. Hizbullah and the Iranian-led alliance, of which it is a part, are a centre of power that neither Israel, as a watchdog state, nor the United States, as an imperial power in the region, can tolerate. In addition, Hizbullah’s middle-class basis and nature push the party to use its weapons to maintain popular support among Lebanese Shi’a and to legitimise the preservation of its army. The target for these weapons is Israel and by extension US influence in the region. For the United States its opposition to rival centres of power was heightened by its pursuit of hegemony in the region and its entanglement in Iraq by 2006. Israel’s opposition to Hizbullah seemingly arises from its own self-interest, but also discharges its role as a watchdog state. This is due to its continual hostility with the surrounding populations as determined by its existence as a colonial-settler state founded, with the support of foreign imperialism, on the displacement of the original inhabitants. With respect to the short-term causes of the war, this thesis concludes that Hizbullah intended to incite a full-scale war with its capture operation on July 12, 2006. This work also concludes that the United States was a crucial participant in the war, effectively determining the conflict’s duration through the obstruction of a cease-fire agreement. At the same time there is no evidence that the United States pushed Israel to go to war, nor that the United States or Israel were searching for a pretext to start a war with Hizbullah. Israel for its part failed to achieve its aims in the war, while Hizbullah gained domestically and regionally from the conflict. Finally, this thesis concludes that the long and medium-term factors that led to the 2006 War in Lebanon remain active and in some respects have been exacerbated, and most probably will generate a future recurrence of military conflict involving Hizbullah, Israel, and the United States.
Advisor: Harris, William; Roper, Brian
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Politics
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: 2006 War; Lebanon War; July War; Israel-Hezbollah War; Marx; Islamism; Islamic Fundamentalism; Modern Resurgence of Islamism; Imperialism; Global Oil Spigot Theory; Watchdog State Theory; Lebanon; Hizbullah; Hezbollah; United States of America; Israel; Gilbert Achcar; David Harvey; John Rose
Research Type: Thesis