Escalating tensions between Iran and Israel have brought the two countries to the verge of war.
While experts disagree on the probability of military conflict between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic, they agree that the present moment is rife with potential pitfalls.
Iran could be approaching the capacity to manufacture a nuclear weapon; a top Pentagon official testified earlier this week that Tehran has made “remarkable” progress and could be within 12 days of enriching sufficient uranium for a nuclear weapon.
In response, Israel is preparing for military intervention to stop what it and many Western nations believe could be a disastrous development that should be prevented at all costs.
But war could be disastrous, too.
“This is a very, very dangerous situation,” said Bernard Avishai, a professor of government at Dartmouth, who has written extensively on Israel.
The question being asked in Washington and other world capitals is whether the danger today is truly greater than it has been in recent years, or whether the threat of war is being overstated for political ends.
Maybe there is truth to both views.
“The posturing is part of the strategy,” Avishai told Yahoo News. But he and others cautioned that the messaging has appeared to be growing more bellicose as Tehran has continued to enrich uranium to ever greater levels and Israel has responded by signaling an increasing willingness to strike Iranian nuclear facilities at Fordow, Isfahan and Natanz. Those facilities are all heavily fortified; to effectively disrupt the work now taking place there, Israel would have to unleash immensely powerful weapons whose deployment could unleash global (not to mention regional) blowback.
If Iran was finally able to manufacture enough weapons-grade uranium to place a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile, it would instantly represent a dramatically elevated threat to global peace. No country would feel that threat more deeply than Israel, a nation founded in the wake of the Holocaust.