tzvibish wrote:Just remember that this happened once before, in 1983, in Iraq (I think I've mentioned it once already). No escalation happened. This is in a lot of ways, similar.
As many people have pointed out, Iran's nuclear program is far more dispersed and hardened than Iraq's was. Iran is much larger than Iraq, physically and in terms of population, as well as farther away. Iran has weapons which can strike back directly, which Iraq did not. Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas even existed in 1983, and while I think Iran's degree of influence over these organizations is often exaggerated, they could certainly increase their support for them.
Maybe the best argument against predicting an Israeli strike is that it hasn't happened yet. I've lost count of the number of times one was said to be imminent.
Intrade puts the chance of an attack before the end of this year at 7.5%. So I would certainly not think America can go forward with the assumption that Israel will inevitably strike. It's in Israel's interests to make it seem as if this were so: American airstrikes or even just broader sanctions weakens a regional rival of Israel's without their actually having to do anything or risk anything.
yoni45 wrote: That's also part of the reason we'd like to keep them from getting nukes, as it will make hostile action from their side much harder to deter.
This claim is similar to the "freedom of action" claim cited above. Recent Israeli efforts at "deterrence" have been described by the former chief prosecutor in the Rwandan trials as "actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity." This is the sort of deterrence that should itself be deterred.