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Will Israel attack Iran?

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Hard on the heels of this post, "Are we being set up for war with Iran?" I was pointed to this one by the writer Masaccio on a different side of the same subject, "Israel, Iran, and the Bomb".

He considers whether Israel will make the move this year (my emphasis and some reparagraphing throughout):

Horse race coverage isn’t limited to the Republican primary. Foreign policy coverage has its own, exemplified by the title of an article by Ronen Bergman in last Sunday’s New York Times magazine, Will Israel Attack Iran?[.]

Bergman says yes. Israel will attack Iran sometime this year, before Iran enters the “immunity zone”, the point at which Iranian knowledge, skill and material will be so great that an attack will not derail their progress towards construction of a bomb. Iran denies that it is building a nuclear weapon, but no one seems to believe that.
The Times article certainly meets our criteria for "preparing the battlefield" of American public opinion. But are its statements true?

As Masaccio notes, Bergman lists three conditions for an Israeli attack:
1. Does Israel have the ability to cause severe damage to Iran’s nuclear sites and bring about a major delay in the Iranian nuclear project? And can the military and the Israeli people withstand the inevitable counterattack?

2. Does Israel have overt or tacit support, particularly from America, for carrying out an attack?

3. Have all other possibilities for the containment of Iran’s nuclear threat been exhausted, bringing Israel to the point of last resort? If so, is this the last opportunity for an attack?
According to Masaccio, the Times writer thinks "all three conditions have been met."

He then runs down a number of other media sources who weigh in on the same question. It's a good review of the current "What will Israel do next?" parlor game. If you care about this question — and frankly, with the Super Bowl now completely behind us, why wouldn't you? — check it out.

As to my favorite question: Could they be that stupid? Masaccio lists the considerable downsides to an attack (it's a compelling list), then says:
It’s harder to see the benefits.
Indeed, say I. But again, I said that once about Iraq, and look where that got us.


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