A large proportion of the discourse about the army in the YouTube sample was found in the video about U.S. sending money and personnel to Lebanese armed forces reportedly linked to Hezbollah (49/97 instances), followed by user responses to videos that compare the military power in Lebanon and Israel (26/97 instances), the militant group Hezbollah battling Islamic State alongside the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) (11/97), and instability looming over Lebanon after the Prime Minister’s resignation, with the possibility of Lebanon becoming a battlefield for Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel (5/97 instances).
The most salient discussions associated with army from these videos were about the ‘Lebanese’ (71 instances, logDice = 11.69), ‘Hezbollah’ (11 instances, logDice = 11.69), ‘Israel’ (2 instances, logDice = 11.47), and ‘general’ (2 instances, logDice = 10.79). Similarly, other noteworthy terms associated with army were about ‘hezzbollah’ (2 instances, logDice = 10.47), as well as terms such as ‘hero’ (2 instances, logDice = 10.38), ‘equipment’ (2 instances, logDice = 10.38), ‘force’ (2 instances, logDice = 10.09), and ‘join’ (3 instances, logDice = 10.02).
Within the discussions regarding armies, the vast majority of the hateful discourse was between users who supported or opposed the presence and utility of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Middle East. In particular, much of the hateful discourse about armies occurred between users with opposing views of Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Unsurprisingly, though, was that based on an analysis of the previous topic discussions, most users defended the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon:
“The Lebanese army is independent from any resistance or militant groups in Lebanon and the Lebanese army have been using those weapons wisely and successfully against terrorists groups , drug cartels” (video source: U.S. sending money and personnel to Lebanese armed forces reportedly linked to Hezbollah)
“Hezbollah is the only thing that protects the Shia and other religious minorities from annihilation by the Jews and their Salafi cousins” (video source: U.S. sending money and personnel to Lebanese armed forces reportedly linked to Hezbollah)
Note that, during their efforts to support Hezbollah, countless YouTube users associated the Hezbollah legitimacy with Israel. Here, like the hateful discussions in the other topic discussions, YouTube users drew upon Zionist conspiracies, blaming Jews for the wars in the Middle East – a sentiment that is shared across the majority of the discussion topics. As one user put it:
“You have personal working with the lebanese army and your accusing them working with hezbollah ?thats so stupid If israel commit any mistake she will disappear from the map LAF is not controlled by Hezbollah, this guys "source" of information is from "someone he knows" stop supporting israeli terrorists. one day USA Gov will turn their back on israel after using her as they are doing now , a puppet for war and provocation. after they will let israel on her own faith been destroyed by the surrounding” (video source: U.S. sending money and personnel to Lebanese armed forces reportedly linked to Hezbollah).
In addition, and to some extent alluded to in the above quote, other forms of hate speech included verbal attacks against the U.S. or Saudi Arabia, with Jews – according to some YouTube users – as the “real” operators of all misdoings of these two nations against Lebanon. To illustrate, in discussing the U.S. activity and funding efforts in the Middle East, one user argued that:
“What do you think what you are doing. ISIS is CIA/Mossad. If you leave than your proxy army will lose. The USA didn't made the ISIS for nothing. America has been hijacked by big money interests for a long time now...While the world is increasingly hating America, the entire world actually has the very same problem coming from the same underlying great failure that's afflicting America using debt economics and nonstop war for profit. It's so sad. Assad is winning against ISIS. WTF are we even doing!? […] Until we get the Zionist neo-cons out of government and out of the intelligence agencies, it will always be Israel first. /deep sigh.” (video source: US sending money and personnel to Lebanese armed forces reportedly linked to Hezbollah)
Other users were starkly opposed to Hezbollah, calling them a terrorist group, or as one user put it:
“Woops Fuck Hezbollah bunch of rag head broke fucks they are funding the lebanese army so that they can attack hezbollah. hezbolla is israels enemy number one Dumbasses! Lmao If you are talking about Deep state and/or Jews you are a homo” (video source: U.S. sending money and personnel to Lebanese armed forces reportedly linked to Hezbollah)
This, however, was a rare attitude relative to the volume of pro-Hezbollah sentiment found in the sample.
Overall, it was the back-and forth discussions about the use of the Hezbollah army, both in Lebanon and in the Middle East, that generated hateful discussion amongst YouTube users in the sample.
|Military … US||10.0||10.16|
Most of the significant collocations from documents 19 (Saudi asks citizens to leave), 6 (Gal Gadot), 15 (Israel ceasefire), 18 (PM Hariri resigns). These threads were intensely political.
One line of thought in these discussions was to view Hezbollah and the Lebanese army as being identical, or of similar intent and nature.
Israeli generals have pretty much declared that Hezbollah is inseparable from Lebanon as a state entity since the Lebanese president formally said that if Hezbollah was to go to war with Israel that Lebanese Army would join. (Doc 15)
This line of argument was then extended to justify Israel attacking Lebanon.
As it would not only be Hezbollah next round, A terrorist organization (They are really just an extensive of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard), but also the Official lebanese Army, all things for military purpose such as Airports, Seaports, industry, power plants, bridges, etc are fair military targets unlike in the prior conflict. If Lebanon or Hezbollah gets a resupply of weapons from Iran on an airplane landing in Beruit's airport, Israel has 100% the right then to put as many holes as possible (Doc 15)
Some users (seemingly from outside Lebanon) commented that Lebanon would be best served by breaking ties with Hezbollah, arguing that this relationship would have long-term detrimental effects on Lebanon.
Am friends with plenty of Lebanese expats IRL. I just feel you are committing a huge mistake supporting a terrorist militia loyal to Iran inside your country. The best thing we can all do is strengthen the Lebanese army and sign a peace treaty to stop aggression between the countries. All you are doing by keeping Hezbollah there is allowing Iran to use you as a proxy in the Ayatollah's jihad in the holy land. When the Ayatollah feels is the right time, Hezbollah will attack and thousands of a Lebanese will die for a foreign power's religious war. Lots of educated Lebanese Christians I've spoken to quite like Hezbollah, rightly or wrongly. Hezbollah is inevitably going to cause another war in Lebanon and many thousands will die. (Doc 18)
It was also apparent that not all users were clear about the relationship between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army and sought a better understanding.
“I was always under the impression they were professional soldiers, as in, not a militia. I could be wrong”
“Yes, you *are* wrong Your quote doesn't apply. They are not rebels, and they are not in opposition to the "Lebanese army ". In fact, they coordinate efforts. This is the opposite of what you are stating.”
There was also discussion of the Islamic Army, what it represented, and how justified it was in its actions. One particular exchange between two users demonstrated different views of the isue ranging from complexity to over-simplification.
Muslims have eternal right over lands brutally conquered by their "heroic" Islamic Army ? Just fuck off. The world doesn't care about the pathetic circular logic of islamists and their "eternal victimhood" anymore. Non-muslims have had enough. Israel belongs to Jews for eternity. Period”. (doc 6)
“Your argument is so scattered and fucked up that I don't even know where to begin? You have some serious anti-Islam thing going on buddy. I never said "Muslims have eternal right over lands brutally conquered by their "heroic" Islamic Army ". But I do think that when a certain population occupies land for ~2000 years, it's wrong to conquer and kill them, especially when they weren't the ones that displaced you in the first place. The "Islamic" army you talk about, which I assume refers to the armies of the Islamic caliphates such as the Rashidun, was no more barbaric than any army assembled through history. In fact, Islamic war law would point them to being more kind”. (doc 6)
Some discussions ventured into the differences between a military and a terrorist group. A recurring criterion was whether or not innocent people were deliberately or unintentionally targeted. Some users, however, made more nuanced distinctions between power equations and oppression in determining terrorist vs military.
“No the problem here is that we label anyone who kills innocent civilians a "terrorist group". I must ask: do you consider the US military a terrorist group? Our drone strikes frequently kill innocent women and children (and men, of course). The difference is that the US is an oppressor nation, where Hamas is fighting *against* an oppressor nation. It rubs me the wrong way to call those who are fighting for the right to return to their homeland as "terrorists". Was John Brown a terrorist? Were indigenous peoples who fought against US genocide terrorists?” (Doc 6)
While oil was referenced as a motivator for US military interests in the Middle East, one user sparked discussion by also pointing out the commercial implications of re-construction activity stemming from military action.
So, the US military , backed by American management contractors are given huge contracts to provide Indian (from India) subcontractors to build huge infrastructure projects in wartorn nations. In short, the US govt prints infinite money to pay gross contracts to American companies to rebuild destroyed countries. Thats the "oil" we're after. Oil needs big-big infrastructure projects, built by American contractors under perview of "military support". US govt walks out with a functional subjugate. US contractors walk away with billions of American military budget dollars…” (doc 19