The moral economy of violence: Israel's first Lebanon War, 1982

Karine Hamilton, Edith Cowan University

This article was originally published as: Hamilton, K. (2011). The moral economy of violence: Israel's first Lebanon War, 1982. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 4(2), 127-143. Original article available here


The article uses Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 as a case study in the historical and cultural construction of the legitimacy of armed force. The discussion develops the concept of a ‘moral economy of violence’ which suggests that the legitimacy that state leaders and their publics take for granted in the use of military force is dependent on a variety of historically and culturally contingent beliefs and assumptions. In the case of the first Lebanon War, the key components of the Israeli moral economy of violence included faith in the technologically superior means by which the Israeli army conducted itself, a belief in the efficiency of military combat, and a widely held notion of Lebanon as an Oriental version of the lawless Wild West.


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