More important, Israel cannot strike Iran without U.S. permission because Israel cannot guarantee that the Iranians would not mine the Strait of Hormuz. Only the United States could hope to stop the Iranians from doing so, and the United States would need to initiate the conflict by taking out the Iranian mine-laying capability before the first Israeli strike. Given its dependence on the United States for managing its national security, the decision to attack would have to be taken jointly. An uncoordinated attack by Israel would be possible only if Israel were willing to be the cause of global economic chaos.
Israel's strategic problem is that it must align its strategy with the United States and with anyone the United States regards as essential to its national security, such as the Saudis. But the United States has interests beyond Israel, so Israel is constantly entangled with its patron's multiplicity of interests. This limits its range of action as severely as its air force's constraints do.
Since its peace treaty with Egypt, Israeli dependence on outsiders was limited. Israel could act on issues like settlements, for example, regardless of American views. That period is coming to an end, and with it the period in which Israel could afford to deviate from its patron. People frequently discuss any U.S.-Israeli rift in terms of personal relations between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but this is mistaken. It is uncertainty in Egypt and Syria and the emergence of Iran that have created a new strategic reality for Israel.