An Israeli Strike?

Even the liberal New Republic is wondering what’s going on in Iran:

So it’s easy to understand why Iran wants to send a message to its neighbors. But the Islamic government’s efforts to gain respect in the Middle East could carry the seeds of its own destruction. Israelis (correctly) view their country’s bombing of Saddam’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 as an unqualified stroke of wisdom. If Israel sees Iran’s nuclear ambitions turn into a tangible threat to its existence, there is a possibility that Israel would act again, this time in Iran. In the Middle East, playing for power is a perilous game.


Diplomatic worries aside, there are some feasibility issues here. The Osirak raid was not easy to pull off, and the greater distance between Iraq and Israel would only complicate the logistics. What’s more, my understanding is that during the 1982–1990 program Iraq was very successful in reconstituting its nuclear program in such a way as to be immune to that sort of narrow strike. Not that the diplomatic issues should be ignored. Though it was widely condemned at the time, Israel pulled off Osirak without suffering any real adverse consequences. That was then, however, and this is now — the regional situation is much more tense.