• governance;
  • Hezbollah;
  • Israel;
  • Lebanon;
  • post-war reconstruction;
  • war

This paper assesses the political nature of reconstruction in Lebanon in the wake of the 33-day war between Hezbollah and Israel in the summer of 2006. It illustrates the extent to which Arab and Gulf States assumed a major role in the reconstruction effort that followed the fighting. A significant competitive dynamic attached itself to the reconstruction of Lebanon, with external actors attempting to protect and defend their favoured constituencies via reconstruction activities. The reconstruction endeavour reflected Lebanon's internal political divisions as well as wider regional competition. Using the metaphors of ‘software’ and ‘hardware’, the study examines how in general many Western states and Western-backed international institutions favoured governance programming (software) while many Arab and Gulf State donors preferred physical reconstruction projects (hardware), often with an emphasis on large-scale, high-visibility infrastructure projects. The paper argues that the latter were able to connect more effectively with the political culture of Lebanon.