For Damascus, Hezbollah is a bargaining chip in its efforts to get the Golan Heights back from Israel, while Tehran views the group, in part, as a deterrent against a possible Israeli or American attack on its nuclear facilities. If Iran is attacked, the rockets will fly from Lebanon into Israel and the Lebanese people again will be caught in the ensuing crossfire. While it bills itself as the great defender of Lebanon (even after Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000), Hezbollah has a challenge in serving so many masters patriotically.
Blanford has covered three major battles between Hezbollah and Israel – in 1996, 2000 and 2006 – and countless raids and skirmishes. He has watched the weapons, tactics, and strategies evolve, if that is the right word for an ever more deadly progression. He documents this in great, sometimes numbing detail: the reader will learn about many marvelous new weapons systems, such as the SA-24 Grinch missile, an alleged improvement on the SA-18 Grouse.
Mostly, however, Blanford’s narrative is well-paced and gripping. He has dodged bullets and rockets, viewed the gruesome result for those who weren’t so lucky, been interrogated and jailed, and sipped tea with men responsible for hundreds of merciless killings. He has done all of this to report on a conflict that exhibits no hope of a peaceful resolution. The cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel is as likely as the demise of hurricanes.