The military has already tested the consequences of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and it found troublesome results for not only Israel and Iran, but the US as well.
A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials.
The officials said the so-called war game was not designed as a rehearsal for American military action — and they emphasized that the exercise’s results were not the only possible outcome of a real-world conflict.
But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policy makers over the consequences of any Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.
The US military habitually runs these types of war-game scenarios, though judging from the real-world results of the past couple wars you might not believe that. But this simulation clearly showed military commanders that US forces would get drawn into a regional war, the third in that specific part of the world in a decade, after Iran targeted the US in retaliation for the Israeli strike. And the upshot of all of this, the important part, is that this wider regional war, which could last several years and cost hundreds of billions – would only slow the development of a (for now theoretical) Iranian nuclear program by three years:
The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation.
Obviously war games are not always going to be accurate. But a simple cost-benefit analysis would show that a temporary bump for a theoretical Iranian nuclear program is not at all worth the cost in lives and treasure and international instability from a war.
The article quotes “military specialists” who tried to disagree with the main takeaway, that Iran would retaliate against US warships in the event of an Israeli strike (similarly, Israeli intelligence and defense officials are trying to say that a war with Iran won’t be so bad). This is self-serving and goes against almost all public statements made by the Iranians. Even without a direct attack on the US, the warhawks would compel us to come to Israel’s aid as they bear the brunt of retaliation. I don’t think drawing us into war is avoidable. And neither does the Pentagon.