Nuclear Risk in the Middle East

November 5, 2011

Dirty Hands, Military

To no surprise, another conflict has arisen in the Middle East.  However, it may be interesting to note that the current situation has the possibility of quickly escalating into a full scale war.  Israel, according to a U.S. senior military official, could strike Iran’s nuclear program, fearful that Iran intends to develop nuclear weapons rather than nuclear energy.  The U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command have been watching recent activities of both the Israeli army and the Iranian army.

Israel vs. Iran…Could a war begin?

Most likely, if any strikes were to occur, it would be through the air.  The problem is, however, that Israel would have to send manned fighter jets and Israeli Jericho ballistic missiles over other nations and into Iranian airspace.  By sending manned aircraft into this third-country airspace, mid-air fuelling would have to occur, which may be detected by Iranian radar.  Furthermore, a U.S. official recently quoted has called the Iranian air defenses “top notch.”  The official has also stated that the U.S. has no plans of striking Iran.

But what if Israel did strike Iran?  Would the U.S. then be obligated to help Israel attack Iran due to their alliance?  If not, then Israel may find itself under attack from neighboring countries that support Iran.  If that were to ensue, World War III could break out.

Possible Israeli attack strategy against Iran


I feel that the U.S. would intervene on the side of Israel if an attack were to occur, even with the current military commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Israel would be looking for their allies to have their back if they were to engage in a preemptive attack to stop Iran’s nuclear desires.  What do you think?  Should Israel attack Iran’s nuclear program before it is militarized?  If so, should the U.S. get involved, and at what point?


Lastly, I believe that this would be an example of the dirty hands theory.  Israel would be doing something generally wrong (attacking another nation) in order to do something that is right (potentially disabling Iran’s nuclear program).  The attack would be necessary in order for the nuclear program in Iran to be disabled, or seriously setback.  Do you think that this is an example of dirty hands?



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4 Comments on “Nuclear Risk in the Middle East”

  1. walirajat Says:

    The middle east crises has always been a sticky situation that the United States as found itself in. With the Palestinian and Israeli conflict on one hand with no end in sight, the last thing the middle east wants is an all out war between Iran and Israel that would drag the rest of the world into the midst and create a nuclear crises.

    Israel has a valid point when it comes to the Iran Nuclear program agenda. From day one, the west has looked upon Iran’s nuclear program has a threat and not a peaceful energy alternative that the powers in Iran continue to tout. This has lead to heavy trade embargoes being levied on Iran and tons of diplomatic pressure on the Iranian authorities. So far, Iran continues to strive forward regarding its Nuclear agenda. To answer the author’s question, yes I do believe this issue to be a dirty hands problem. The US is a close ally of Israel and if Israel was to go to war with Iran, US will in all probability deploy its forces against Iran as well from the military bases it has in the middle east, on land and sea.

    But the question here is, can the US mediate and mitigate this preemptive strike by the Israelites? I feel there is this basic issue of mutual distrust that lingers and has fostered over the decades in the middle east. It is high time that the powers in Washington, Tehran and Tel Aviv come together in a neutral area and truly hash out their grievances and issues with one another, so that the much awaited Middle East peace process and talks can move forward. If this is not done and suspicion is allowed to reign unchecked, the future may well witness a nuclear disaster that will wipe out the years of negotiations and progress that was achieved in the past.

  2. jonkeren Says:

    Iran had been trying to build Nuclear weapons for years, and now that they are very close to doing so it has turned into a very difficult situation for Israel. Iranian officials have said numerous times that they want to wipe israel off the face of the earth and now that they are close to obtaining nuclear weapons their plan can become a reality. In order for israel to continue to exist as a nation, it seems that its only option is to strike Iran’s nuclear power plants before they have finished developing a nuclear weapon. Furthermore, although the United States is allies with Israel, I do not believe that the US would intervene militarily if Israel were to attack Iran. The Obama administration has not had the best relations with Israel, in fact almost every Jew who worked under the Obama administration resigned. A few months ago Obama said that Israel should go back to its pre 1967 borders. If Israel were to do this it would be forced to give up strategic military positions and buffer zones. Obama’s decision to state this not only shows that he is not a big supporter of Israel, but also solidifies my belief that in the case of Israel striking against Iran, the US would not intervene militarily.
    Although I could not see the US intervening militarily, it most certainly will diplomatically. The United States will try and do everything in its power to try and prevent Israel from launching a Preemptive strike against Iran. Unfortunately unless the US somehow convinces Iran to shut down its nuclear power plants, Israel will most likely launch a preemptive strike against Iran since their are virtually no other options.
    Lastly I agree with your point that Israel is faced with the problem of dirty hands. If Israel strikes Iran people will be hurt, but it will help ensure that Israel will remain a nation. Overall this is a very difficult and scary situation which I hope will be resolved with minimal to no violence at all.

  3. Brian Hall Says:

    I doubt Israel will do anything drastic until there is confirmation that Iran has nukes and intends to use them. Interestingly, the U.S. actually has already intervened. I’m not sure if anyone remembers the recent sabotage hack of an Iranian power facility: . Clearly there are other ways of going about a forceable disarmament campaign than bombing.

    Even if Israel does decide to call in an F-15E strike on the plants, the reaction may not be WWIII. There has been a long series of these sorts of incidents that didn’t result in anything resembling a disastrous long-term conflict (desert storm and iran-iraq war aside). See:

    Most of the Middle Eastern polities are currently busy dealing with the Arab Spring, so even if Israel and Iran go to war, it won’t resemble anything like the 1967 War or the Yom Kippur War. That said, if Iran and Israel were to face off in a direct conflict, Israel would get its ass kicked without U.S./NATO support. If we didn’t intervene, Israel might be desperate enough to use its nuclear weapons to broker a cease fire (despite their no first use policy), which is something no one wants of course. If the U.S. were to enter into that conflict, we could end it extremely quickly, but still at a heavy cost.

    As far as the Dirty Hands angle, I don’t think it would be unacceptable for a nation to use premptive, controlled force against a belligerent nation like Iran to protect itself, but only if there is a clearly demonstrated need for this action.

  4. masonbear Says:

    Although the prospect of Iran developing nuclear weapons creates high tension not only for Israel, but the U.S. as well, uneducated decisions cannot be taken without substantial evidence. Our country knows firsthand the effect that hasty action (sending troops overseas in search of W.O.M.D) can have on most importantly human lives but the economy as well. In order for the United States to send armed forces I believe we would need clear evidence of Iran’s nuclear capabilities. If Iran did indeed develop such weapons I think the right decision would be to support Israel financially in disarming such threats. Furthermore, if Iran’s intentions to use these weapons became clear I believe any such force necessary, including the use of our own armed forces, would be necessary. This clearly demonstrates a case of dirty hands; moving armed forces into Iran would clearly cause casualties, but it is a necessary step to maintain our own countries security as well as our allies. Machiavelli said, “In order for politicians to do good, they can’t be good.” Wrongdoings are often mandatory for the greater good of a nation.

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