When the Israelis say “never again” they really mean it
Iran is working hard to get nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles for delivery. It’s not at all clear that the right-wing fundamentalist theocrats running the country find the prospect of their own destruction too high a price to pay if they get to kill all the Jews. Moreover, if they come to think their own fall from power is inevitable, would they go quietly, or would they order a genocidal strike on Israel? So seeing this, it’s not impossible that Israel will finally launch a military strike against Iran before they get the bomb. But skepticism is in order about claims of anyone’s specific military plans to stop Iran.
All that said, and with the grains of salt handy, John Robb makes a case that Israel could strike Iran’s oil production facilities. The idea is that Israel could successfully halt oil production/delivery, with a massive strike by drones. I love drones almost as much as President Obama, but I think the Israelis have conventional options. But however they did it, this would be a big enough catastrophe for Iran (so the theory goes) to bring down the Ayatollahs. The next government, it is hoped, would be less irrational.
Nobody really wants any of this to happen (unless maybe a demented Ayatollah hoping for the End Times). Iran currently produces a lot of oil for China and India, and indirectly it all goes into the world oil market. A sudden loss of production would likely cause a global depression. Israel has a survivable nuclear arsenal. So does India, Pakistan to some extent, China, Russia, and who knows who else. Things could go out of control in fantastically bad ways. So the world is motivated to prevent it happening (goes the theory), by stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program some way or other, so Israel won’t stop it in a worse way.
Israel certainly does not want to do this, but I think they will if it’s their next-to-last option. Because everyone knows their last option, and that prospect seems not to be deterring Iran.
UPDATE 6 March 2012: Hamas rules out military support for Iran in any war with Israel.