When the subject of whether Israel should attack Iran’s nuclear program is raised, the ensuing discussion inevitably veers into what consequences to expect following an Israeli strike.
While the question of what will be the aftermath to war is always legitimate, the dire scenarios painted by opponents of an Israeli attack are all hobbled with implausibility. The usual leftist and far-right predictions in the “against” camp center around, and are limited to, a vague threat that Iran will pursue a “wider war” against Israel.
What a “wider war” would consist of is never detailed satisfactorily; these important details are absent simply because Iran lacks the ability to conventionally or “asymmetrically” retaliate against Israel. Without sufficient ability (or at least good arguments to the contrary) there is no reason for Zionists to interpret the warnings of Islam apologists as anything but feeble bluffs because all answers for “How” Iran would hit are unconvincing.
If Iran is denied a nuclear arsenal by Israel, the responsibility to answer “How” to conventionally punish Israel would fall to the Iranian navy, airforce and army. All three of these branches are in no condition to carry out a campaign directly against Israel. In no small way this is due to their equipment consisting of outdated Soviet-era technology and, in some cases, legacy systems from the days of America’s Cold War alliance with the Shah.
If their kit is unpromising, their pathway to Jerusalem is hopelessly out of reach. To get near Israel the Iranian navy would have to take a long route out of the Persian Gulf while hoping for no interference from the Saudis or the American Seventh Fleet which guards the Gulf, navigate around the Arabian peninsula, and sail through the Nile. If they weren’t sunk by the Americans or Saudis, they would be by Israeli attack submarines long before they reached Egypt. The Iranian airforce would be easy target practice for Israeli F16s. If their navy and airforce could never reach Israeli territory, neither would the tens of thousands of Iranian ground soldiers who would be needed to have any hope of defeating Israeli armor in a land war.
What of “asymmetric warfare” strategy, such as employing terrorists or diplomacy?
The main arm of Iranian terrorism, Hezbollah, is too occupied fighting ISIS in Syria’s civil war to also take the risk of opening a second front against Israel. Most Iranian cruise missiles would be intercepted by Israeli anti-missile systems; and those that did hit Israel would not cause a strategic setback even if a lucky shot or more killed hundreds of Israelis.
This leaves diplomacy; and, it too, seems a stretch.
Syria is in no condition to assist Iran, or anyone else. The military autocracies of Egypt and Jordan have more to lose by becoming adversaries of Israel than they have to gain through an alliance with Iran. Saudi Arabia is so hostile to the Ayatollahs that they may not even bother with a slap-on-the-wrist diplomatic condemnation should there be an Israeli airstrike.
Russia has no reason to substantively respond to an attack against Iran because a disruption in Iran’s nuclear program just maintains the <i>status quo</i> in the area as it has been for sometime: Iran is not a nuclear power now, a situation Russia is used to; and Iran would not be a nuclear power following an Israeli attack, a situation which does not threaten Russia’s current position.
Erdogan’s Turkey might be a plausible antagonist against Israel due to its relative wealth, size, and military strength compared to what is available to the rest of the Muslim world. But his Turkey is also plagued by too many external and internal threats to afford to add Israel as a new threat.
Externally, Turkey is occupied with ongoing border disputes with Greece and Crete; Russia, though for now relaxed with Turkey, like the Greeks has a centuries-long tradition of warfare with Turkey and has not forgotten the Turks recently shot down a Russian warplane defending Assad. Internally, the problem of Kurdish independence persists; the new problem of ISIS terrorism has materialized; and the fear of a secular military coup against Erdogan’s fundamentalist-leaning Islamic regime, though reduced, still looms.
In every case, Iran would have little to fall back on in response to an Israeli move, and Israel has no serious obstacle to an attack except an Obama administration which is thoroughly hostile to Zionism and Israel’s right to self-defense.