Divine victory : uses of the 2006 war in Hezbollah Muqawama rhetoric

Date
2015-05
Authors
Higgins, Patrick Donovan
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Abstract

For countless commentators on contemporary Middle East affairs, the 33-day war in 2006 between the State of Israel and the Lebanese paramilitary organization Hezbollah represented a turning point in modern military affairs. For Hezbollah in particular, the war presented unique challenges. While on the one hand the organization demonstrated unprecedented military prowess for an Arab military outfit against Israel, the effects of the Israeli bombing and land invasion on civilian life in Lebanon were catastrophic. The war presented Hezbollah with a crisis and an opportunity, of which both prospects the group's leadership was well aware. In the aftermath of the war, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah presented the war as a "Divine Victory" in his speeches, applying to its legacy-formulation three rhetorical registers: the theological register, which emphasizes belief in God as the route to military endurance, as well as the sacredness of martyrdom as rectification for the futility of the corporeal universe; the national register, which emphasizes the integrity of Lebanon as a coherent nation-state; and the international register, which emphasizes the importance of solidarities among the colonized and disinherited populations of the world. All three of these registers have served as important hallmarks of Hezbollah's unique thought and resistance culture; in Nasrallah's speeches, they are assembled in new ways and incorporated into the development of a narrative around the 2006 War to demonstrate that Israel and empire itself are capable of suffering major military defeats. The employment of this rhetoric signals deeper understandings of Hezbollah thought and policy, including more recent and controversial actions such as its incursion into the Civil War in Syria.

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