It seems that the stars are aligning for Israel to go ahead and bitch-slap Iran. I had really hoped that this wasn't true, but it does kinda seem to be the way that things are going.
Well, Cheney has been foaming at the mouth to do this for quite some time. He is an old sad man, with a bone to pick for imagined slights in days past. He has always wanted to do it and Junior is too stupid to stop him.
McCain has pretty much given Israel the green light, with his second holocaust and "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran" jokes. Obama would oppose it.
So from Israel's POV, if they are going to do it, it will have to be before the election. Obama is in the lead and seems to be pulling away a bit, so if they do it before the election, it would strengthen McCain's bid and get the job done before Obama gets in.
This would suck for Europe. But the truth of the matter is, they have so thoroughly deboned their military they no longer have a dog to take to this fight. This is a invitation to a street fight, talking doesn't really seem to be of any use in this milieu. These folks are getting ready to dance, the only way that you can stop them is to threaten to kick both their asses.
Pretty bad, but they are so busy with Pakistan and stirring the shit in Afghanistan, they can't bring too much to bear. They will stand there trying to tell everyone to play nice, but they are vegetarians at a convention of meat eaters.
Putin probably has a huge erection just thinking about this. The US will get sucked in, the costs and impact on the military will cripple the ability to erect that missile shield. The cost of oil will skyrocket, allowing him to get a great bang for his buck on his peaking resources. But the best part will be poking a stick in our eye. A clear win.
This isn't in China's interests. But they have a whole bunch on their plate right now. They would miss the oil, but they have some good contacts with oil that doesn't go through the Straits of Hormuz, they might be able to weather the loss better than we do. Couple this with the fact that they don't really play the peacemaker role unless it clearly benefits them, and you have a recipe for ambivalence.
The truth of the matter is, Israel attacking would be stupid. But they feel threatened (and I can't say as I blame them, Iran without nukes is an annoyance, Iran with nukes is a really bad neighborhood). But Iran doesn't seem to have the same goals as we and Israel pursue, so they will probably never back down from their nukes.
Spring 2009 is the point where Iran gets dangerous, from what I can see, 3,000 centrifuges will have enough time to create a critical mass of fissile material at that point. I am praying for an outbreak of common sense here.
But that doesn't usually happen in politics