I get the impression that, despite the rhetoric, Israel is giving up on the unilateral option. They can't be guaranteed of successfully destroying all of the facilities and they would have to strain their resources to the maximum. With the United States the mission is doable, without it it's far riskier and much more likely to fail. Not to mention that a mission, successful or not, would certainly trigger a conventional missile strike by Iran against Israel that could be incredibly destructive. Israel needs the USA to come on board and suppress Iran's AA systems and destroy as many of its conventional long-range missile launch facilities as possible. Also, since Iran would likely move to close the straits, the US carrier group in the Gulf would have to knock out most or all of the Iranian navy as well.
In short, there is no option for 'just bombing the nuclear facilities'. To reduce the chances of a massive counterstrike against Israeli civilian targets, Iran would have to be subjected to probably the biggest aerial bombardment since WWII. I don't really see that happening just yet. The nuclear threat would have to become far more tangible before that becomes likely.
Ser Scot A Ellison, on 06 March 2012 - 06:47 AM, said:
So, the Saudis would use the Israelis as their proxies against Iran?
Last time round the Iranian issue came up, there were some links posted that showed that Saudi Arabia has unofficially, behind-the-scenes given the nod to Israel using their airspace to attack Iran (or not intervening etc). Whether that's still the case now is unclear.
Without significantly increasing the size of the US military I don't believe the US is capable of successfully invading and occupying Iran.
Quoted for truth. Iran is absolutely massive. It's four times
the size of Iraq (itself not a small country) and has almost three times the population. The USA would require an absolutely massive invasion army far huger than the one used to invade Iraq.
When it comes to the prospects of a conventional war, the USA frankly does not have the resources or anything approaching the money needed to invade Iran. The inability to invade Iran means that the viability of bombing Iran is also in doubt: destroying some of the nuclear facilities may be possible, but without boots on the ground to fully dismantle the programme, there is no way to neutralise it fully.
ETA: The article is mostly solid, but it completely fails to mention the risk of Iran arming terrorist groups with dirty bombs or other weapons, a huge part of Israel and the USA's argument that Iran should not have the bomb. A counter-argument is viable - that a nuke being detonated in Israel would trigger an Israeli nuclear strike on Iran regardless of whether a missile or a terrorist did it, so Iran has no motivation to do that either - but it's odd the article doesn't discuss it at all.
Edited by Werthead, 06 March 2012 - 11:30 AM.