responding to attack : case study in lebanon

On being asked about the legitimacy of paramilitary attacks and Hezbollah’s claims to legitimacy for cross-border attacks.

Let’s separate paramilitary group actions into four separate cases:

  1. Responding to an attack by the state in which the paramilitary group is resident. (The IRA, for instance, had a serious case of that sort.)
  2. Responding to a foreign state attack, real or imaginary. I say that in this case, no militia that is not controlled by a legitimate government can itself claim legitimacy. Thus Hezbollah has no possible legitimacy in attacking Israel.
  3. A group acting as a separatist movement (for instance, E.T.A). I would want to see the conditions in such a case. While I could gather some sympathy, I think it more likely that political means would be proportionate.
  4. A ‘revolutionary’ government/movement in exile. These I would regard as legitimate, if the home state was illegitimate.

Lebanon is a fractured society. It also has a poorly educated minority with associated poor judgement. For example, Hamas in Gaza has been voted in, a foolhardy action, but democracy is a learning process. Hamas may then be regarded as a legitimate government. As long as the people of Gaza are prepared to take the consequences of their foolish actions and learn from related experiences, that is fine by me. At the moment, I seem to be a minority who does not resent the election of Hamas. But any government that attacks another legitimate government owns any disaster they bring upon their own people.

Thus, by my analysis, Hezbollah has zero claim to legitimacy, unless clearly delegated by a legitimate Lebanese government. Lebanese government must be, and are being, held to account for actions by Hezbollah on and outside their territory, this being the only manner by which Lebanese legitimacy and responsibility can be advanced.

A Lebanese government of growing legitimacy does, of course, appear to have serious complaints against the wholly illegimate governments of Syria and Iran, who fund and otherwise support their surrogate Hezbollah militia on the land of another state.

And here is the extraodinary response of Hezbollah’s Nazarollah to his kidnap and killing of Israeli soldiers that resulted in 34 days of Israeli response:

“We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not, [...]” [Quoted from]

the web address for the article above is