Monday, July 31, 2006

Hezbollah (or Hizbullah or whatever) 

One of my previous posts has quite a discussion going on in Comments about Hezbollah and terrorism and Israel and the whole damn thing. Here is an interesting contribution to that discussion -- Juan Cole's description of how Hezbollah and Al-Quaeda are different:
Western and Israeli pundits keep comparing Hizbullah to al-Qaeda. It is a huge conceptual error. There is a crucial difference between an international terrorist network like al-Qaeda, which can be disrupted by good old policing techniques (such as inserting an agent in the Western Union office in Karachi), and a sub-nationalist movement. Al-Qaeda is some 5,000 multinational volunteers organized in tiny cells.
Hizbullah is a mass expression of subnationalism that has the loyalty of some 1.3 million highly connected and politically mobilized peasants and slum dwellers. Over a relatively compact area.
Read the whole article if you can. Cole concludes:
The Israelis cannot win this struggle against a sophisticated, highly organized and well armed subnationalism.
The only practical thing to do when you can't easily beat people into submission is to find a compromise with them that both sides can live with. It will be a hard lesson for both the Lebanese Shiites and the Israelis. But they will learn it or will go on living with a lot of death and destruction.

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