For many years, Hizballah was perceived as a success story by many in Lebanon and, indeed, throughout the Middle East and the Arab and Muslim world, and even beyond. The organization seemed to succeed in whatever it attempted to achieve. It was active in several arenas at once—in the Lebanese Shiʿi community, in the Lebanese political arena in general, on the front with Israel, and even in the regional arena at large—and in each sphere, it seemed to grow ever stronger.

What was the precise nature of Hizballah's success and to what in particular should it be attributed? Should the focus be on the organization's ability to defy Israel, to “needle” and “wound” it over and over again, and even to create a degree of deterrence capability such as the Arab states over the years had found it difficult or impossible to develop? Or perhaps one should focus on Hizballah's...

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