In recent months, we have seen rising tensions in the Persian Gulf, with Iran reacting to sanctions by issuing increasingly belligerent rhetoric and continuing uranium enrichment. Some in the U.S. and Israel are now advocating immediate, unilateral military action to curtail the Iranian nuclear program. However, such a strike would be a total catastrophe, showcasing a naïve and outdated understanding of regional dynamics.
Firstly, a unilateral strike on another country is a declaration of war. Do the U.S and Israel feel able to, without the backing of the international community, engage in conflict with Iran? Unlikely. A single strike is not the end; it is the beginning of a war.
Also, there is absolutely no guarantee that such a strike would be successful. The U.S. and Israel may have intelligence suggesting the placement and location of key sites; however, there can never be a total certainty that this would lead to mission success. A strike could fail, driving the Iranian program further underground and accelerating it.
Additionally, a unilateral military strike on Iran by the U.S. and Israel would undoubtedly destabilise the region, causing key U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Jordan to be in the line of fire. Global markets would be severely impacted, as the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf would be the unsafe, causing curtailment of oil shipments. This trade issue could only be resolved if the U.S. committed significant military resources to the Gulf to boost security, further drawing it into a conflict zone.
A strike on Iran would set the domestic opposition movement back ten years. It would enable the regime to claim a state of war, under which it thrives, and further oppress Iranian society. Furthermore, it is a known fact that the regime in Tehran thrives on the cult of martyrdom and war. A U.S. strike would only play into this. Indeed, a strike by the U.S. and Israel would provide an opportunity for Iran to declare war and start offensive operations, which would be brutally effective, as the regime has no consideration for human life.
In effect, a military strike on Iran is nonsensical. The mission cannot be a guaranteed success, it is playing with fire in terms of the global economy, and it risks backlash against the U.S. from the regime in Tehran. Israel and key regional allies should resist even the most die hard of neo-con hawks. It would be a foolish gambit, which could not be undone and a devastating blow for the region, for diplomatic relations, and for any possibility of seeking a peaceful resolution to this escalating crisis.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons