Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization - nor is it likely to disappear soon. This work explains that Hezbollah is a "janus-faced" organization in the middle of an incomplete metamorphosis from extremism to mundane politics, an evolution whose outcome is far from certain.
Hezbollah: A Short History by Augustus Richard Norton
Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong. Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization - nor is it likely to disappear soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group - which combines the functions of a militia, a social service and public works provider, and a political party - is more popular than ever in the Middle East while retaining its strong base of support in Lebanon. And Hezbollah didn't merely confront Israel and withstand its military onslaught. Hezbollah's postwar reconstruction efforts were judged better than the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina - not by al-Jazeera, but by an American TV journalist.In "Hezbollah", one of the world's leading experts on Hezbollah has written the essential guide to understanding the complexities and paradoxes of a group that remains entrenched at the heart of Middle East politics. With unmatched clarity and authority, Augustus Richard Norton tells how Hezbollah developed, how it has evolved, and what direction it might take in the future.Far from being a one-dimensional terrorist group, Norton explains, Hezbollah is a "janus-faced" organization in the middle of an incomplete metamorphosis from extremism to mundane politics, an evolution whose outcome is far from certain. Beginning as a terrorist cat's-paw of Iran, Hezbollah has since transformed itself into an impressive political party with an admiring Lebanese constituency, but it has also insisted on maintaining the potent militia that forced Israel to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000 after almost two decades of occupation. The most accessible, informed, and balanced analysis of the group yet written, Hezbollah is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East.
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In this remarkably thorough, articulate portrait of Hezbollah, Norton ... analyzes how the organization was formed, how it evolved and its current role in Lebanese politics... Norton's authoritative account is rooted in such important Middle East themes as the historical division between Sunni and Shiites and the origins of Iranian influence in Arab affairs. It is also personal, speckled with anecdotes from more than three decades of experience. Given the contentious subject, Norton's tone is remarkably even: Hezbollah is an organization he respects, but whose actions he does not condone. Publishers Weekly Augustus Richard Norton's timely Hezbollah chronicles that dramatic evolution and its sweeping implications for the region and beyond. His lucid primer is the first serious reappraisal of the radical Shiite group since last summer's war shattered six years of relative calm on one of the world's most volatile frontiers. -- Jonathan Finer Washington Post Book World This short, authoritative book, based on first-hand experience, efficiently analyses [Hezbollah's] status. -- Iain Finlayson The Times This excellent short history of Hezbollah ... demonstrates that dismissing it as a 'terrorist organization' is both glib and dishonest... Everyone who wants to understand the complexities of the Middle East, and particularly those of Lebanon and Israel, and wants to reach the truth beyond the political rhetoric, should read this book. -- Bruce Elder Sydney Morning Herald How do you classify and develop policy toward an organization that has committed acts of terrorism in the past, that currently provides important social services ... that defends its country from occupation ... that plays by the rules in official Lebanese national politics? ... Norton elucidates these domestic and international complexities in Hezbollah: A Short History... With other similarly complex organizations on the rise, such as Hamas in Palestine, Norton provides a model of how we might begin to think through their multidimensional, seemingly contradictory natures. -- Allen McDuffee In These Times In his new book Hezbollah, Augustus Richard Norton ... provides a succinct account of the group's rise from the chaos created by Israel's invasions and occupation of Lebanon in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which ended only in 2000. Mr. Norton also explores the origins and political orientation of the group, now led by the Shiite cleric Hasan Nasrallah, in a complex web of religious and political identities in Lebanon--with a special emphasis on the role of Shia Islam in the organization. -- Richard Byrne Chronicle of Higher Education Augustus Richard Norton, an American academic and former U.S. army officer, has studied that Islamic fundamentalist organization since its formation. And now, in Hezbollah ... he offers a cogent analysis of its emergence and impact on Lebanese politics. -- Sheldon Kirsher Canadian Jewish News The most fluent survey of Hezbollah to date. This extremely accessible yet scholarly read covers the Lebanese resistance group from its inception to the current Lebanese political crisis, aided by a collection of poignant photographs and maps. -- Margeret Hall Washington Report on Middle East Affairs The many complex and often changing dimensions of Hizbullah are presented in the book in a clear, concise manner that allows for a more accurate and complete understanding of what the group represents and aspires to achieve...Wherever one may stand on this spectrum of views, a vital starting point--offered in this small but rich volume--is an accurate, comprehensive view of why Hizbullah has succeeded as a political party, a sectarian representational group, a social services agency, and a resistance force, and why it continues to generate so much opposition at the same time. -- Rami G. Khouri Daily Star In an easily read, easily comprehended book, Norton traces the origins and history of Hezbollah... The twisting allegiances of the players, the role of Syria and other neighboring states, the emergence of discord and sectarianism as the young movement matured and began to intrude on the elected government, all take place in the pressure cooker of a land and people long torn, used by factions for their own purposes. -- Suzi Brozman Atlanta Jewish Times In this highly informative, jargon-free book, Norton, one of America's top experts in Lebanese politics, provides an objective account of the genesis and development of Hezbollah, explaining its central role in contemporary Lebanon. -- N. Entessar Choice The book is a must read for anyone wanting to have an idea of the Lebanese puzzle and the role played in it by one of the most interesting political actors emerging in the Middle East. International Spectator A good, concise survey by a perceptive student of the Lebanese Shia. -- David Gardner Financial Times A dedicated researcher and writer, Norton has contacts all across Lebanon who are both his friends and informants. He writes with the same fluency about Shi'a religious customs as he does about Lebanese politics. The book comes with advance praise from scholars who tell us Norton has written an accessible and balanced account of a movement poorly understood by many in the United States who too often view the Middle East through the 'terrorist' lens. -- Donna Robinson Divine Democratiya The book is a dynamic and multifaceted account... Overall, Norton's book balances international political factors with the local and regional conditions that shaped the outlook and activities of Hezbollah. Norton deserves praise for writing an insightful and multilayered work accessible to a wide and often uninformed readership. -- Rula Abisaab Journal of Palestine Studies
About Augustus Richard Norton
Augustus Richard Norton, Professor of International Relations and Anthropology at Boston University, was a military observer for the United Nations in southern Lebanon when Hezbollah and rival Shi'i parties were taking form there in the early 1980s. A former U.S. Army officer and West Point professor, he has conducted research in Lebanon for close to three decades, and his book "Amal and the Shi'a" is widely considered to be a classic account of the political mobilization of Lebanon's Shi'i Muslims.
Table of Contents
Prologue 1 Chapter 1: Origins and Prehistory of Hezbollah 9 The Rise of Shi'i Politics from the Mid-twentieth Century to the Lebanese Civil War 14 The Role of Musa al-Sadr 18 The Resurgence of Amal 21 Chapter 2: The Founding of Hezbollah 27 The Iraq Connection 30 The 1982 Israeli Invasion 32 Hezbollah Emerges 34 The Hezbollah Worldview 35 Implementing the Design 41 Chapter 3: Being a Shi'i Muslim in the Twenty-first Century 47 Ritual and Identity 51 The Intersection of Ritual and Politics 58 Chapter 4: Resistance, Terrorism, and Violence in Lebanon 69 Hezbollah and Terrorism 75 Occupation in Southern Lebanon 79 The "Rules of the Game" 83 The 2000 Israeli Withdrawal 88 Chapter 5: Playing Politics 95 Hezbollah's Decision to Participate 98 Municipal Elections 103 The Revolt of the Hungry 105 The Rich Texture of Shi'i Institutions 107 Chapter 6: From Celebration to War 113 The Changing Social Tapestry in Post-Civil War Lebanon 120 Lebanon's Love-Hate Relationship with Rafiq Hariri, and His Assassination 124 Setting the Stage for War 132 The Start of Hostilities, July 2006 135 Prosecuting the War 137 Conclusion 145 Hezbollah in a Fractured Postwar Lebanon 152 What Next? 157 Glossary 161 Additional Reading 163 Sources Cited 169 Index 173 Acknowledgments 185
Hezbollah: A Short History by Augustus Richard Norton
Augustus Richard Norton
Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics
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Princeton University Press
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