Over the last week, Israel conducted exercises in long range airtstrikes with Italian cooperation and the British government gave indication that it is increasing the readiness of its own military in preparation for a potential Iranian strike. The Obama administration is also expressing deep concern for the situation. An article on the London Telegraph carries the headline: "Iran is on the verge of getting the bomb. It is time for President Barack Obama to act"
So what will Israel do?. Let see, a neighbor is telling you is going to kill you; is sharpening the knife and looking at you with anticipation...what is the likelhood he will follow through?. Of course Israel has reasons to be concerned, but are they going to act? Let's look at the track record.
In 1967, Egypt blockaded Eilat and promised to destroy Israel and drive Jews into the sea. The international community asked Israel for patience while they tried to put together "Operation Regatta" to break the blockade. The Operation was never implemented, and Israel launched a preemptive strike that we know today as "the six day war", which was a watershed event in the history of the region.
In 1981, it became evident that Saddam Hussein was using the French provided Nuclear reactor at Osiraq for purposes other than the ones he acknowledged; namely they were getting ready to use it for the production of nuclear weapons. Israel launched a long range strike and destroyed the reactor. The commander of that operation was none other than Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who died aboard the ill fated Space Shuttle Columbia. While the world condemned Israel in loud voices, quite a few back stage reactions were very different...
In 2007, Israel launched Operation Orchard against the North Korean provided Syrian Nuclear reactor in the area of Deir Ez-Zor, an operation that was shrouded in secrecy and to which there was remarkably little international reaction... maybe not only Israelis were shuddering at the prospects of a Nuclear Syria?
So now is 2011...Is Israel likely to strike? The strategics and logistics for such an attack are extremely complicated, and became further complicated by the descentralization of the Iranian Nuclear program in the last few years, as well as other strategic problems. See a complete analysis here.
At a time when the Arab world is in turmoil, and Saudi Arabia's concerns about the Islamic Republic of Iran are growing, the conditions are aligning to make a strike more and more probable, but the probabilities of success are far from certain, especially without American logistic support.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made it clear many times: he wants a world without Israel. He was also very explicit, he commented that it would take one atomic bomb to whipe Israel off the map, but several bombs in Iran would only be like mosquitoes in the Islamic world. He also made it clear that Israel is not his only target, since it is only the "Little Satan" - the "Big Satan" is the United States. One could think that Iran will have more respect for the United States, were it not for the fact that recently they sent operatives to kill the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in Washington DC.
The Iranian President is unreliable and mercurial. The idea of allowing him to get his hands on a nuclear weapon is as appealing as giving a machine gun to a chimpanzee in a crowded room. He believes that part of his mission is to prepare the world for the coming of the Mahdi (The Shi'a Muslim equivalent of the Messiah) by initiating a world war.
Adolf Hitler was also driven by his personal conviction that he had a special role to play in the future of Humanity, and in 1938 the world genuflected to his will and handed over the Sudetenland; the world also stood by when he forced the Aunschluss with Austria and occupied Bohemia-Moravia (today's Czech Republic). Only when his troops rolled over the Polish Border in September 1939 did the world react. The extra time allowed Hitler to build up his military and precipitate the bloodiest war the world had witnessed (so far).
What will take for the world to stop Ahmadinejad? The destruction of Israel? the Iranian occupation of the Oil fields in the Persian Gulf? the bombardement of Europe?
Can Israel really afford to wait passively to see if the world will step up to the plate?