Ambassador John Bolton has penned an excellent analysis of the various outcomes in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran to take out their nukes. Hindsight is 20/20, but an democracy loving administration (Bush) would have been far more supportive than an anti-semitic one will ever be. Olmert did not have the testicular fortitude to save Israel from Islamic nukes. So now it's infinitely harder. So what? Everything for the poor beleagured Jew is infinitely harder -- but nothing was harder than Auschwitz. That is not going to happen again. Israel will not be turned into one giant oven.
The mullahs would retaliate. But things would be much worse if they had the bomb.
5) Iran launches missile attacks on Israel. Because all the foregoing options risk more direct U.S. involvement, Tehran will most likely decide to retaliate against the actual attacker, Israel. Using its missile and perhaps air force capabilities, Iran could do substantial damage in Israel, especially to civilian targets. Of course, one can only imagine what Iran might do once it has nuclear weapons, and this is part of the cost-benefit analysis Israel must make before launching attacks in the first place. Direct Iranian military action against Israel, however, would provoke an even broader Israeli counterstrike, which at some point might well involve Israel's own nuclear capability. Accordingly, Iran's Revolutionary Guards would have to think long and hard before unleashing its own capabilities against Israel.
6) Iran unleashes Hamas and Hezbollah against Israel. By process of elimination, but also because of strategic logic, Iran's most likely option is retaliating through Hamas and Hezbollah. Increased terrorist attacks inside Israel, military incursions by Hezbollah across the Blue Line, and, most significantly, salvoes of missiles from both Lebanon and the Gaza Strip are all possibilities. In plain violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, Iran has not only completely re-equipped Hezbollah since the 2006 war with Israel, but the longer reach of Hezbollah's rockets now endangers Israel's entire civilian population. Moreover, Hamas's rocket capabilities could easily be substantially enhanced to provide greater range and payload to strike throughout Israel, creating a two-front challenge.
Risks to its civilian population will weigh heavily in any Israeli decision to use force, and might well argue for simultaneous, pre-emptive attacks on Hezbollah and Hamas in conjunction with a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. Obviously, Israel will have to measure the current risks to its safety and survival against the longer-term threat to its very existence once Iran acquires nuclear weapons.
This brief survey demonstrates why Israel's military option against Iran's nuclear program is so unattractive, but also why failing to act is even worse. All these scenarios become infinitely more dangerous once Iran has deliverable nuclear weapons. So does daily life in Israel, elsewhere in the region and globally.
Many argue that Israeli military action will cause Iranians to rally in support of the mullahs' regime and plunge the region into political chaos. To the contrary, a strike accompanied by effective public diplomacy could well turn Iran's diverse population against an oppressive regime. Most of the Arab world's leaders would welcome Israel solving the Iran nuclear problem, although they certainly won't say so publicly and will rhetorically embrace Iran if Israel strikes. But rhetoric from its Arab neighbors is the only quantum of solace Iran will get.
On the other hand, the Obama administration's increased pressure on Israel concerning the "two-state solution" and West Bank settlements demonstrates Israel's growing distance from Washington. Although there is no profit now in complaining that Israel should have struck during the Bush years, the missed opportunity is palpable. For the remainder of Mr. Obama's term, uncertainty about his administration's support for Israel will continue to dog Israeli governments and complicate their calculations. Iran will see that as well, and play it for all it's worth. This is yet another reason why Israel's risks and dilemmas, difficult as they are, only increase with time.
Israel has one priority. One. Self-preservation. Period.
UPDATE: One thing I meant to mention but failed to do so. The Iranian elections. I hear the leftopaths putting great stock in the outcome of the elections in Iran. Balderdash!
First off, the mullahs are running the mahdi madhouse. So I do not think Ahmadinejad will win. In what can only be called political theater, some other plant will win, and they will con the world, the Perm 5, the UNSC, and the Muslim POTUS in one collective circle jerk while they finish their extensive, comprehensive nuclear weapons program. Not one nuke, not two nukes. Many nukes. The world wants so desperately to be fooled. Anything but react. And so the "new" Iranian President will "engage" in a "new era," "new dialogue," and "diplomacy," to Obama's evil delight.
The election is irrelevant. The objective does not change, nor has it, since the Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in 1979.
The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident. -- Ayn Rand