Sebastian Grundberger

Sebastian Grundberger


Short Bio

Born on December 11, 1979 in Rottenburg/Neckar. Studies of Political Science, Latin American History and American Literature, Katholische Universität Eichstätt-Ingolstadt  and Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaíso (Chile). 2006-2007: Research Assistant, Chair for Latin American History, Free University Berlin. 2007-2008: Research Assistant, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Office for Spain and Portugal, Madrid. 2008-2009: Research Assistant, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Office for Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, Amman (Jordan). Since September 2009: Parliamentary Assistant to Martin Kastler MEP, European Parliament, Brussels and Strasbourg.

Short description of PhD project

“Proxies and Prophets: Power Politics in the Middle East – The example of Lebanon”

Due to its extreme religious, ethnic and political fragmentation, Lebanon is a singular case worldwide. These characteristics bring about very favorable conditions for proxy conflicts. While during the Civil War (1975-1990) foreign powers such as the USA, Syria or Israel were directly engaged with fighting, their patterns of action have shifted since the 1989 Taíf Agreement. However, foreign powers continue to influence Lebanese politics in a massive way. This study shall focus on the patterns of interaction between the foreign powers and their allies in Lebanese politics. The key question thus is: Who uses whom for what and how in Lebanon? Thereby related questions emerge such as: Can any basic patterns of the conflict be recognized? Are there differences with regard to the course of action of the different foreign powers? Which interests do they have? Which strategies do they use? Do they form transnational networks? How do the proxies work? Which commonalities and differences do they show?
It is argued, that the central driving force for the course of action of foreign powers is their striving for regional hegemony in the Middle East. In his theory of “offensive realism”, the US political scientist John J. Mearsheimer describes different techniques which powers can use in order to gain and maintain power. It shall be examined to what extent these patterns can be applied in the Lebanese case.