Israel Really, Really Wants (Someone) To Bomb Iran

Israel is ready and anxious to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities soon. At least that's the claim in a lengthy new Atlantic piece, which puts the chances of a strike within the next year at "better than 50 percent."

The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who has run into some problems in the past with his Middle East writing, still puts together a well detailed, if somewhat one-sided, look at Israel's plans for Iran, for which he spoke to "roughly 40 current and past Israeli decision makers about a military strike" on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Basically the situation is this: Israel expects Iran to have an operational nuclear weapon within a year. The Israeli government sees this as a direct existential threat that would lead to the annihilation of Jews. They're not going to wait for the United States' permission to strike if they see fit, although they would really appreciate it if Washington did the Iran-bombing for them.

Because here's what would happen if Israel did the bombing unilaterally, as Goldberg sees it:

When the Israelis begin to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the formerly secret enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and possibly even the Bushehr reactor, along with the other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program, a short while after they depart en masse from their bases across Israel-regardless of whether they succeed in destroying Iran's centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, or whether they fail miserably to even make a dent in Iran's nuclear program-they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel's only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel's conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.

Silly constantly apocalyptic Middle East.

So there are some risks associated with Israel bombing Iran, which they would love to do. Or this entire article is just a major bluff to the Obama administration to get them to act. Either way, the parties that have long wanted a military solution in Iran appear to be readying their push.