Israel and Iran: the Armageddon scenario
In sum, an Israeli strike against Iran now appears almost inevitable. The effects of this strike are impossible to predict, but it is not difficult to imagine a scenario where the results could be devastating. In the long term, the entire regime that has been created to contain nuclear proliferation, including both treaties (the NPT) and institutions (the IAEA), will need to be fundamentally transformed and strengthened to ensure that the present situation cannot occur again. Unfortunately, though, that prospect offers little comfort at present.
It is becoming increasingly likely that Israel will attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the next few months. Indeed, over the past few weeks, signs of an impending strike have been widely reported, with the Israeli government itself fuelling much of the speculation.
While much of the recent media commentary has revolved around the question of whether Israel has the military capability to undertake such a difficult mission, this emphasis misses the larger point, which is that an Israeli strike may set off a chain reaction that could prove difficult to control.
Assuming that the Israeli Air Force attacks -- regardless of whether or not the raid is successful -- the Iranian response will be the key to determining how serious the crisis becomes. Thus, how Tehran retaliates will result in either a tense -- but ultimately limited -- crisis, one where threats will be issued and warnings made but military action will be measured and somewhat predictable, or conversely, in a rapidly escalating crisis that might threaten the stability of the entire region, and may result in the total devastation of some states.
The former scenario is easier to envisage. Under it, after the Israeli strike, Iran's leaders would issue numerous threats, but in the end Tehran would limit its military activities to sponsorship of terrorism through its regional proxies (i.e. Hamas and Hezbollah) and the stepping up of attacks against American forces in Iraq. In addition, Iran would likely attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz to international shipping, which could cause panic on world oil markets.snip