On February 7, 1984, President Ronald Reagan withdrew the U.S. Marines from Lebanon—an action that was "perhaps the most purposeful and consequential foreign-policy decision of his presidency," Micah Zenko writes. In this article, Zenko discusses the unclear and unachievable mission of the United States in Lebanon, and Reagan's subsequent decision to withdraw.
Hezbollah's long-standing resistance to Israel gained this Lebanon-based Shiite political party and militant group broad support, but its involvement in Syria's civil war may jeopardize its domestic standing, explains this Backgrounder.
"[T]he number of medium-to-large civil wars under way—there are six in which more than 1,000 people died last year—is low by the standards of the period. This is because they are coming to an end a little sooner. The average length of civil wars dropped from 4.6 to 3.7 years after 1991, according to Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, a professor at the University of Essex.
Mr. Gleditsch is one of a growing number of political scientists studying civil wars. The field, long overshadowed by studies of superpower conflict, is coming into its own. Its participants do not claim that all civil wars are the same—the range of causes and types of conflict is obvious. But the sheer number of civil wars allows scholars to attempt, at least, a quantitative approach to the factors that affect the wars' outcomes."
Ed Husain hosts author Matt Levitt in a discussion of Hezbollah's terrorist activities, focusing on the group's presence internationally and including not only attempted and successful attacks, but also the group's illegal financial activities.
The approval of a Hezbollah-backed candidate as Lebanon's new prime minister feeds concerns in the West about the militant Shiite group's growing strength and the implications for national and regional stability.
Pending indictments in a UN tribunal could link Hezbollah and Syria to the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Lebanon expert Michael Young says all sides, including Saudi Arabia and the U.S., are scrambling to deal with the impact of the findings.
Lebanon faces new sectarian violence, and tensions along its border with Israel threaten to boil over. CFR's Mohamad Bazzi says to help avert conflict, Washington must eventually engage with the most powerful force in Lebanon: Hezbollah.
Authors: Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
Steven Simon and Jonathan Stevenson argue that demilitarizing Hezbollah is crucial to rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East and shaping an environment more conducive to Arab-Israeli accomodation.
Elliott Abrams argues that if indeed Syria is supplying Hezbollah with SCUD missiles, Israel's right to self defense as well as the relevant UN resolutions allow military action against this threat--and the United States should make this clear.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.