CRF Blog

A Privilege to Die

by Bill Hayes

Thanassis Cambanis reported on the Middle East for the Boston Globe and New York Times and has now written a well-received book on Hezbollah: A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel.

From the New York Times Book Review:

Created in the early 1980s, Hezbollah was a joint venture of Israel and Iran. Israel inadvertently provided the motivation with its brutal 1982 invasion of Lebanon and attempt to establish a pro-Israeli puppet government there — undoubtedly, the worst foreign policy decision the Jewish state ever made. Iran, intoxicated by the euphoria of its 1979 revolution, provided the money, military training and equipment to its fellow Shiites in south Lebanon who, up till then, had been a disdained underclass in Lebanon’s polyglot ethnic mash-up. Israel continued to provide the motivation, by occupying a sliver of southern Lebanon until 2000, and Iran — using its Syrian ally as a go-between — continued to provide money and arms. But along the way, an extraordinary thing happened: Hezbollah developed a successful formula for governing the Shiite districts in southern Lebanon. It provided security, social services and an all-encompassing sense of community, with its own schools, scout troops and television station….

Hezbollah has found a supple and sophisticated extremist formula — the combination of social services, an aura of incorruptability, jihad and inspiration — that can and may well be replicated throughout the region….As such, Hezbollah, sadly, may prove over time to be the strongest indigenous response to the colonial hubris visited upon the Middle East by Western powers since the end of World War I.

Charlie Rose had an interesting interview with Cambanis a few days ago.