Lebanon has been pushed to the center of regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran, since the Saudi-backed Lebanese politician Sa’ad al-Hariri – in an unexpected move – resigned his post as the country’s Prime Minister, blaming Iran and its Lebanese-proxy Hezbollah of forcibly asserting Tehran’s interests in Lebanon, as well as sowing strife across the Arab world. To do so, I’m joined here in the studio by; 1. Dr. Nir Boms – Research fellow, Moshe Dayan center at Tel Aviv University 2. Prof. Efraim Kam, Senior researcher, INSS 3. Dr. Eran Lerman – Vice President of the Jerusalem Institute for strategic studies and a lecturer at Shalem College Analyst: Amir Oren
The Making of Lebanese Foreign Policy: Understanding the 2006 Hezbollah–Israeli War by Henrietta Wilkins(London: Routledge, 2013), 180 pagesReviewed by Nir Boms for the Israeli Journal of Foreign Affairs
In August 2013, seven years after the end of the Second Lebanon War, air raid sirens were again sounded in northern Israel. Four missiles fired from Lebanese territory struck residential areas. This time, it was not Hizbullah that was behind the attacks, but the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al-Qa’ida-linked group that took “credit” for similar missile strikes on Israel in 2009 and 2011. Lebanese President Michel Sleiman condemned the incident as a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and Lebanon’s sovereignty. Hizbullah did not comment. Israel retaliated and launched an attack in Na’ameh, targeting a base of a Palestinian militant group. This incident can be seen as a microcosm of the Lebanese reality in which a president can only complain about the violation of national sovereignty by militias and terror groups that operate on his territory but are beyond his control. These recent events tie in with the volume under review.
Henrietta Wilkins’ book, an adaptation of her PhD thesis at Durham University, seeks to explain Lebanon’s behavior in the international arena during the 2006 war between Hizbullah and Israel and, in so doing, to highlight the limitation of systemic theories in explaining foreign policy. On the one hand, this book is about Lebanon with a focus on the 2006 war and its ramifications for Lebanon’s foreign policy. On the other hand, it is also a treatise on International Relations (IR) theory and, even more so, about the limitation of systematic IR theories that often attempt to synthesize (and simplify) foreign policy principles but, at the same time, fail the “deduction” test. View full post…
In choosing the title of his book Beware of Small States, David Hirst harks back to the words of Mikhail Bakunin, the Russian anarchist who in 1870 wrote to a friend about the European wars. Small states, Bakunin wrote, are “particularly vulnerable to the machinations of greater ones,” but “they are also a source of trouble to their tormentors” (p. 2). This is, in a nutshell, the tragic story of Lebanon, the “small state of the Middle East” that is described elsewhere as “other people’s battle ground” (p. 117).
This is an impressive work that showcases its author’s well-honed journalistic skills. Hirst, a former Middle East Correspondent for The Guardian, lived in Lebanon for almost fifty years and reported extensively on the region. He was kidnapped twice, and expelled from half a dozen Arab countries because of his work. In this thick and thorough account—that he boldly calls a “definitive history of Lebanon”—Hirst offers a detailed narrative of this battleground that is arranged in chronological order and supported by copious footnotes. It is both a good read for the general public as well as a sourcebook for serious students of the Middle East. View full post…
By Nir Boms and Leon Saltiel FrontPageMagazine.com | September 7, 2006
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan seemed particularly satisfied at the press conference in Brussels when the foreign ministers of the 25 European Union member states committed to contribute more that half of the 15,000 soldiers of the revamped UN force in Lebanon. Apart from the significance of this move for the stability of the region and the strengthening of the Lebanese government, the pledge of European soldiers signals an important shift in European Mideast policies: Europe is now willing to get involved militarily in the Arab-Israeli conflict.