Five Steps to All-Out War in the Middle East

Israeli solders have to be on the lookout for trouble.
Israeli solders have to be on the lookout for trouble.

Step 1

Israel apparently attacked an Iranian consulate, using missiles to kill several senior military officials, including one who was supposedly responsible in part for the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. So, in a way, this attack was a reprisal for Hamas’ attack. (So too is Israel’s invasion and subsequent destruction of much of the Gaza Strip, killing thousands of Hamas fighters, but also killing thousands of civilians, including women and children.)

Immediately after the attack, the U.S. announced it wasn’t involved. Instead of backing Israel, their ally, they left them out to dry. Iran may have seen this as a sign that they could attack Israel without reprisals from the U.S. Bad move, Biden.

Step 2

Upset at having its generals killed in the safety of their own consulate, Iran retaliated, launching 185 drones, 36 cruise missiles, and 110 ballistic missiles targeting Israel. This has been called the largest attacks of its type ever seen. It is larger than the Russian missile attacks on Ukraine, and Israel is a much smaller country.

This attack happened despite the U.S. warning Iran not to attack Israel. That Iran ignored the U.S. is another sign of U.S. weakness.

The U.S., UK, and Jordanian military are said to have shot down “dozens” of Iranian drones and missiles, a sign of their military might. Israel knocked out most of the rest, and reports 99 percent of the aerial attack was intercepted. Between 7 and 10 Israelis were sent to the hospital because of the attack. There was some minor damage done to an Israeli base, or so we are told.

The attack’s lack of effectiveness is a blow to Iran and a victory for Israel. The number of countries that supported Israel, including Arab countries and those in Europe, is also a blow to Iran.

Step 3

Besides attacking Israel directly, which suffices to result in a declaration of war should Israel wish to do so, the Iranians outright challenged the U.S., issuing a statement that says:

‘The matter can be deemed concluded. However, should the Israeli regime make another mistake, Iran’s response will be considerably more severe. It is a conflict between Iran and the rogue Israeli regime, from which the U.S. MUST STAY AWAY!’”

This makes it look as if Iran is threatening the U.S. Our lack of even a verbal response make the U.S. looks weak. The U.S. immediately said it was suggesting Israel take the victory and not respond, yet another sign telegraphing weakness.

In contrast, Israel is already saying it will respond. This is keeping with a long-time policy or smiting back an enemy that attacks it. Israel’s response is usually a magnitude greater than the attack they suffered. This kind of counter punching not only shows strength, it limits those willing to attack Israel because the attacker usually ends up retreating in disarray.

Step 4, Escalation

Up to this point, everything written above has already happened as of publication time (shortly after midnight on East Coast time on Monday, April 15, 2024). The rest of this post is speculation, a consideration of various “what ifs.”

I expect Israel to respond. Maybe not immediately, but at some point. From their perspective, they have to. Not only is it their long-term policy to do so—and let’s face it, that policy is a large part of what has kept the country alive in the face of Arab opposition—they can’t afford to let Iran “get away” with something.

While the U.S. is telegraphy that they don’t want to attack Iran, any delay may be to give them time to move aircraft carriers and other resources into the area, to re-supply and restock Israeli munitions, and to allow Congress to allocate more money to both Israel and Ukraine.

When the response comes, there are three paths this could take:

Nuclear Strike

One, Israel could take this opportunity to use nuclear weapons, striking a devastating blow to Iran and making itself the world’s pariah for unleashing the nuclear tiger. I doubt they will do so at this time because the situation is not dire enough to use a last-resort weapon, although it may be an option down the road.

Joint Attack

Two, Israel and the U.S. could launch a joint attack using stealth airplanes and cruise missiles launched from submarines, missile frigates, and land bases. Thanks to the stealth technology, the first wave of the attack would be a surprise. This would be aimed at taking out as many radar stations, anti-aircraft sites, and command-and-control targets as possible. The subsequent waves would be aimed at military targets, including entrances to their underground tunnel complexes, Iran’s nuclear energy infrastructure, naval facilities along the Strait of Hormuz, airfields, and all the launch sites that were identified in the most recent attack. This “shock and awe” attack could last days.

It’s possible Britain and another ally or two would join in the attack and countries like Saudi Arabia would allow the U.S. to transit its airspace.

Israel Goes it Alone

Three, the United States could force Israel to go it alone. I think this is a mistake because it would result is a lesser attack and would be more likely to result in a counter attack by Iran. It is one thing to attack Israel, it is another to attack the United States.

Allowing Israel to go it alone would also be yet another signal of U.S. weakness. These signals are being received not only by Iran but by Russia and China. How we treat Israel, who we gave our “ironclad” support, will also be evaluated by allies such as Taiwan and South Korea. When the U.S. is perceived as weak or unresponsive, the chances of global war rise, as we have seen over the past two or three years.

The other danger is Israel might use an EMP weapon to knock out much of Iran’s infrastructure if they are forced to pull off a solo attack,. While not as bad as nuking them, it will take warfare to a new level and increase the chances that another country will use an EMP either in space or on land, something almost no one wants to happen.

Step 5, Full-Scale War

If attacked in any of those three scenarios, Iran is likely to go to war with Israel immediately, assuming some part of their government or command structure is still viable. If the U.S. takes part in the attack, Iran will try to strike U.S. targets as well.

I expect an immediate attack on Israel by Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies. The fighting will probably spread across the Middle East as Saudi Arabia, Syria and other countries take advantage of the situation to step up their efforts to counteract their enemies. We will probably see multiple scenarios in which “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Iran and its allies will also unleash terrorist attacks. While Europe often seems to be the target, so do U.S. troops stationed overseas. And let’s not ignore the possibility there are sleeper cells or homegrown terrorists in the United States waiting to be activated.

If Iran is badly hurt, they may turn to nuclear weapons in a last gasp effort to take out Israel or U.S. fleet assets.

Hold Your Breath

Right now, the whole world is holding its breath to see what happens next. Will Israel attack, and if so, will the U.S. provide only intelligence and refueling tankers, or will it participate in the bombing attacks and missile launches? Will nuclear weapons be used? Or an EMP? How will Iran react? Do they have a nuclear capability? Will Russia and China seek to take advantage of the situation?

While the world is holding its breath, you can do some last-minute preps. On Monday, for example, I am topping off my supply of chicken feed. I am also going to empty two gas cans into my truck’s tank, then top it off at the station, and refill the cans with fresh gas.

What’s on your last-minute prep list?