Op-ed: Iranian response to strike on its nuclear facilities may be unconventional, but it would not threaten Israel’s existence
There is a difference between not winning a military confrontation and losing it. Not winning is defined by not achieving the entirety of objectives a belligerent sets for himself prior to entering the conflict; losing means that the adversary, through the use of conventional force or other means, becomes effectively able to impose its own political objectives.
Modern warfare sees the border between winning and losing extremely reduced, as limited wars are based on precise objectives and not the total destruction of the enemy. The simple fact of not achieving them makes it seem as if the endeavor has to be qualified as a “loss.”
The rhetoric concerning a possible autumn strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is gaining momentum, international commentators are speculating over grand strategies and tactics while elected officials ponder the cost of such an action, consulting their military staff and screening opinion polls.
An international cacophony of “what ifs” is rising, as all sides attempt to analyze what may be the showdown after years of confrontation. Nevertheless, a question is seldom asked: in the case of an Israeli (or American led) strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, could the Islamic Republic ‘win’ the war?
In this sense, “win” does not merely mean to be able to safeguard a certain percentage of its enriching capabilities but to effectively respond in a way which would increase its regional drive for hegemony and deter in the long run such operations against its national soil. Following the first strike, would Iran be able to respond and dictate the tempo of operations or would it merely be in the position to defend itself while inflicting damages to its adversaries?
Analyzing recent reports, it appears that there are no windows within which Iran and its regional proxies may be able to effectively “win” a military confrontation against Israel and the United States armed forces.
The closure of the Strait of Hormuz, as devastating it may be for the international economic system, is unlikely to hold more than 24 hours as it has been highlighted time and again by the White House as an absolute red line which would trigger the intervention of the US Navy.
The use of ballistic missiles against US bases in the Gulf and/or Arab Gulf monarchies would effectively open a second front which would push the Iranian military to shift focus and lose the strategic balance needed to protect its nuclear facilities. Iran’s regional proxies may also prove to be less of a threat than often stated.
The Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are undergoing a period of strategic repositioning due to tension with Egypt and may not seek to be under further Israeli military pressure. In addition to that, it may seem unlikely that these terrorist groups would risk being shattered in an attempt to protect Iran, the sole country in the region actively supporting Bashar Assad’s repressive army, which is killing Palestinian refugees in Syria.