Israeli officials may see a “zero hour” for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities, but it could backfire. Here are some potential consequences of an Israeli strike:
1) Innocent people will die. It is quite possible that even a limited Israeli strike could kill innocent Iranians, and it is an almost-sure thing that Iranian retaliation will kill innocent Israels.
2) It very well might not work at all. The Israeli Air Force is very talented and brave, but it doesn’t have the capacities of the USAF. It would only have one shot at these facilities, and it might not do much in the way of significant damage. It could also lose pilots, or see its pilots shot down and captured.
3) Even if a strike does work, it may only delay the Iranian program, and it might even speed it up. Any Israeli preventive strike would justify, in the minds of Iranians — even non- or anti-regime Iranians — that their country needs nuclear weapons as protection. Certainly much of the world would agree, and the sanctions put in place on Iran may crumble. So acceleration of the nuclear program may be a consequence of an Israeli strike.
4) An Israeli strike may cause a surge of sympathy for Iran among Sunni Arabs across the Middle East, who right now despise the regime for, among other reasons, supporting the Assad government in Damascus. Right now, Arab opinion is hardened against Iran and its Lebanese proxy, the terror group Hezbollah. An Israeli strike could reverse this trend, and would be a boon to Assad and Hezbollah in many other ways as well — for one thing, it would take attention away from the continuing slaughter of innocent Syrians by Assad. Conversely, an Israeli strike would be very useful for those forces around the world trying to delegitimize and isolate Israel.
5) A strike could trigger an overt war without end (Iran, of course, has been waging subterranean war on Israel, and America, for a long time now, and Israel and America respond, in subterranean fashion), and an all-out missile war may escalate into something especially horrific, so in essence, Israel would be trading a theoretical war later for an actual war now.
6) A strike could be a disaster for the U.S.-Israel relationship. It might not be — there is no sympathy for the Iranian regime among Americans (except on the left-most, and right-most margins) and there is plenty of sympathy for Israel. But an attack could trigger an armed Iranian response against American targets. (Such a response would not be rational on the part of Iran, but I don’t count on regime rationality.) Americans are tired of the Middle East, and I’m not sure how they would feel if they believed that Israeli action brought harm to Americans. Remember, American soldiers have died in the defense of Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, but they’ve never died defending Israel. I doubt Israel wants to put Americans in harm’s way now. And it certainly isn’t healthy for Israel to get on the wrong side of an American president.
7) The current American president is deeply serious about preventing Iran from going nuclear. I believe he would eventually use force (more effectively, obviously, than Israel) to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold. His position will be severely compromised if Israel jumps the gun and attacks now. Again, what I worry about, at bottom, is that an Israeli attack would inadvertently create conditions for an acceleration of the Iranian nuclear program.
( via theatlantic.com)