Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I have long argued that only military action will keep Iran from developing and using nuclear weapons... and I realize that any attack on Iran won't be completely clean and free of negative aftershocks... but I totally am not worried that Iran would even try to shut down shipping in the Persian Gulf if attacked by Israel, as this article claims is the case.

Doing so would shift the conflict from a limited engagement between Iran and Israel to one in which Iran was taking on the United States as well (as much as Obama wouldn't want to respond militarily against Iran, he would have no choice but to do so if Iran tried shutting down the flow of oil out of the Middle East). While the damage from an Israeli attack would likely be limited to Iran's nuclear facilities and a handful of ground to air defense positions (those in position to interfere with the Israeli attack), a conflict with the United States would result in the US taking out much of Iran's military capabilities and command-control infrastructure. And while the Israelis are pretty much limited to one shot, which limits the damage Israel can do to Iran, the United States can pretty much attack Iran around the clock and wherever in Iran it wanted.

Even if it were the United States attacking Iran's nuclear facilities (which it won't be, see my above point regarding Obama's unwillingness to use military force against Iran), Iran would be stupid - and for many of the same reasons - to elevate the confrontation. If America were to attack, it wouldn't need to wipe out Iran's military, like Israel, it would limit its attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and some nearby air defense installations. The damage would be limited. But if Iran tried to respond by closing down the Gulf, or perhaps even by attacking the United States elsewhere, it would be inviting the United States to elevate its attack.

Iran's crazies may be crazy, but they're not stupid. They know that provoking a fight with the United States would result in their nose getting much more bloodied than needed.