On one point, the United States agrees with Hezbollah's No. 2 leader, Naim Qassem, and not such allies as Britain.
Neither Qassem nor Washington distinguish between the Shiite militant group's political wing, which has members serving in the Lebanese Cabinet and parliament, and its military wing, preparing for the next round of battle against Israel. "Hezbollah has a single leadership," said the 57-year-old cleric in a rare interview with an American reporter recently.
"All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership," he said. "The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel."
Washington Times columnist Tony Blankley commented on the spurious distinction often made by the Western media and Israel's critics:
. . . Al Capone set up soup kitchens during the Depression. And the Nazis provided social services to poor and starving Germans in the 1920s and early '30s. But they both kept killing until, respectively, the FBI and the Allies put them both out of business.
Hezbollah is certainly a ruthless band of cutthroats, but there is no evidence that they are insincere in their beliefs, or that they are open to changing their minds and joining the Women's League of Voters. If, at their heart, they oppose our objectives, then either they have to be defeated or we do.
Any political party — be it Sinn Fein, Hezbollah, Hamas or the Nazis — that has its own private army is inherently not a democratic institution. Nor is it likely to evolve into one if it holds undemocratic ideas.