When is a civil war no longer a civil war?

“Civil war” is hardly ever a neutral term. Those who use it—or deny its applicability—are usually making a political argument. My dissertation, The Lebanese Wars: Civil Conflict and International Intervention, 1975-1985 demonstrates how the term “civil war” served competing political agendas among participants in Lebanon’s conflicts. 

My project engages with two distinct intellectual traditions: the history of U.S. foreign policy and the history of the modern Middle East. The Lebanese Wars advances my arguments about the nature of civil war and international intervention, but the work itself is an argument for challenging traditional disciplinary divides. I prioritize U.S. and Lebanese sources, with Israeli and Syrian perspectives offering context and evidentiary support.

Civil conflict and intervention will remain a feature of the international system for the foreseeable future. Thus, the history of intervention, its successes, its failures, and its unforeseen outcomes will remain an essential area of inquiry. The Lebanese Wars and future works like it will contribute to the foundations of new and better understandings of the common history between human beings in far-flung parts of the globe.