Israel will not strike Iran without securing Washington’s approval. The Obama administration expects the sanctions on the Islamic Republic to work. As the U.S. economy starts to improve and the troops return home the last thing Americans want is a new war.
The mood in Israel is different from that of the U.S. Iran’s suspect nuclear program is considered an “existential threat” to the Jewish state.
Is alarm over Iran fully justified? Through its Western allies, the Zionist state has already forced Tehran into a corner. The Iranian regime has been isolated, sanctioned and demonized.
On other fronts, regional developments are serving Israel’s interests.
Syria, Iran’s closest ally, is unraveling under a popular uprising. In losing the support of the Damascus regime, Iran’s influence in the Middle East has been significantly diminished.
Iran’s proxy resistance forces in Lebanon and in Gaza are facing new challenges. A worsening economy in Syria and Iran slows the aid and funding to Hizbullah and Hamas. These two resistance forces are now exposed to rival parties at home, and across borders.
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have become self-assertive with Iran. Their insecure rulers would like to see Iran humiliated by an Israeli strike.
While monitoring sanctions and fussing about nuclear danger, Israel is actually gaining relief on another front. The Iran crisis detracts the attention of the international community from a 45-year old Israeli occupation, of Palestinian and Syrian territories.
Western sanctions and periodic sounding of alarm bell seem to bring results.
Why would Israel, an advanced nuclear state, consider striking Iran? It would be strange for the Zionist state to launch a war on a non-border state, several times its size and with no history of invading other countries. It would be equally strange for Iran to nuke Israel where millions of Palestinians reside.
Israelis who wish to gamble with their countries’ future seem to be anxiety ridden. Many Israelis have irrational fear of political Islam, and the Iranian regime in particular. They liken Iran with Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. The comparison is groundless.
Supporters of military action believe that a swift victory would shake the ideological, military and political foundation of the Islamic Republic.
But victory is far from certain. An Israeli strike on Iran could easily lead to a regional war with unpredictable consequences.
The cost of a protracted war may be devastating for all sides.
If the strike failed to significantly delay or destroy Iran’s nuclear program, Netanyahu might not survive in his post.
If Israel fails to demolish the nuclear facilities, it would give the Iranian regime a boost. Iran would acquire an added justification to accelerate its nuclear program. The pro-democracy opposition in Iran would be weakened.
An Israeli unilateral adventure in Iran may startle most Americans, but not the extreme right wing. In going to war with Iran, Israel would be ignoring basic U.S. sentiments. America is desperately trying to cut spending and cut back its military presence in the Middle East. Americans are already struggling with rising oil prices. A war with Iran might suddenly cause a doubling of the cost of oil, with recessionary impact on U.S. and world economy.
A blundering strike would tarnish the image of Israel in the West. U.S. military assistance for the Zionist state would start to look questionable.
As things stand now, Israel will opt for sanctions rather than war. Washington’s punish-and-talk strategy with Iran will work for the near future. But the long term solution is a nuclear-free region.