Hezbollah, part II

Following up to the previous post, could what Hezbollah did in southern Lebanon be duplicated elsewhere? I.E., could another non-state actor manage to put together an effective enough military force to fight a western army to a standstill using conventional tactics?

Possibly. That’s not a particularly authoritative answer, but the situation in Lebanon was particularly well-primed for such a defense. Hezbollah had years, if not decades, to study the situation. The war it was going to fight was easily predicted: an Israeli invasion from the south was obvious. The Israeli strategy, tactics, and equipment were well-known. The terrain over which the conflict would take place was easily scouted and then exploited. The theater was constrained in geographic terms: Lebanon is a narrow country, about 25 miles across at its southern border. The terrain itself is a mixture of hills and valleys, and the road system runs largely east-west. (Good map here)

All of that is a recipe made for a smart defender, and Hezbollah exploited it to the maximum.

But that situation is not really replicable elsewhere. Other non-state actors (or states for that matter) are unlikely to have that kind of time, that kind of foreknowledge, and that kind of terrain to take advantage of, and thus Hezbollah’s success is unlikely to be easily duplicated by other forces.

In Iraq, for example, the Iraqis had the same kind of foreknowledge of direction, strategy, and tactics, but not the terrain. If they had tried to same tactics in March 2003, they would have been (and were) simply outflanked by the American and British forces. Southern Lebanon wasn’t a fluke, but it was peculiar.