From the thesis abstract: "For the last decade the United States has focused on Al Qaeda and a resurgent Taliban while other more powerful and potentially more dangerous actors developed virtually unchecked. Hezbollah in Lebanon is bigger, better organized, more technologically advanced, better funded, better trained, and better armed than Al Qaeda and has the ability to sow far greater instability in the Middle East. Since the 1970s, Hezbollah has transformed itself from a shadowy militant group known primarily for terrorist attacks to the Lebanon's pre-eminent political, social, and military force. Today it has an armed militia more powerful than the Lebanese Army and a far-reaching network that delivers welfare goods and social services to its Shiite constituency throughout Lebanon. Hezbollah's power and influence in the Levant drastically complicate the United States' aspirations to advance peace, security, and opportunity in the Greater Middle East. This paper explores the factors and circumstances that contributed to Hezbollah's ascendancy as a political, social, and paramilitary organization. It further explores the sometimes-counterintuitive manner in which non-state actors not only stress the traditional Westphalian concept of state sovereignty, but can also reaffirm its validity and utility in the modern world."
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