Talk of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is not subsiding. If diplomacy can't head off Iran'snuclear ambitions, advocates for a military strike in Israel and the United States will only gain strength. While proponents may believe that Israel can endure the short-term military and diplomatic fallout of such action, the long-term consequences are likely to be disastrous for Israel's security.
Those believed to favor a military option, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, argue that the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran would be far more dangerous than a military attack to prevent it. But their position rests on a faulty assumption that a future, post-attack Middle East would indeed be free of a nuclear-armed Iran. In fact, it may result in the worst of both worlds: a future nuclear-armed Iran more determined than ever to challenge the Jewish state, and with far fewer regional and international impediments to do so.
Let's consider a post-attack Middle East. The risk factors are well known: potential Iranian retaliation in the Levant, the Persian Gulf and perhaps against Israeli and American interests abroad, as well as destabilizing consequences for global oil markets. Those Israelis who favor a strike believe that such retaliation would be limited and in any case less harmful than facing a nuclear-armed Iran.