Some new grim statistics, apt to be ignored by the self-appointed scorekeepers: on Sunday, Hizballah killed an Israeli civilian and wounded thirteen others by firing an antitank missile at a group of workers repairing electrical lines. Yesterday the same Iran-backed military proxy fired another missile at a moshav in the Galilee, wounding two more. These incidents have heightened concerns of more serious escalation on the northern front. In an attempt at a comprehensive analysis of the current war, Mark Helprin considers the dilemma posed by Hizballah and its backers in Tehran, who are still on the verge of obtaining nuclear weapons:
[T]he United States is entirely capable of relieving Iran of its nuclear infrastructure and a good part of its missilery, as it should have long ago. Whether it will or will not is an open and highly contentious question, and it is unfortunately reasonable to assume that the largely unreasonable Iranian government will conclude after decades of American propitiation that America won’t—even if it will.
Israel, however, if it can, must—though tactically, for the sake of surprise, it might strike Hizballah first. My longstanding and best estimate is that Israel can by force eliminate the Iranian nuclear threat, but that in doing so it would have to devote so much of its airpower as to risk its survival should the mission fail.
Hitting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure first (and as much of its missilery as possible) would demoralize its allies perhaps to the point that Hizballah would draw in its horns for fear of operating with a decisively weakened patron. Or perhaps not, in which case Israel would have sacrificed those benefits of surprise achievable by striking Hizballah first. The choice will remain open as long as Iran has no deployable nuclear weapons.