Writing in The New Republic, Ha’aretz’s Shmuel Rosner suggests that if Israel attacks Iran, it may not do so with the expectation that it will stop Iran’s nuclear problem. Rather, he writes, Israel might attack Iran in the hope of “stirring the pot” — of forcing an international community that seems increasingly resigned to the idea of nuclear Iran realize the urgency of this issue and the necessity of stepping up diplomatic pressure on Tehran.
…According to this line of thinking, which has adherents among some high-ranking officials and former officials in the Israeli defense establishment, focusing on the tactical questions surrounding such an operation — how much of Iran’s nuclear program can Israel destroy? how many years can a bombing campaign set the program back? — is a mistake. The main goal of a hit would not be to destroy the program completely, but rather to awaken the international community from its slumber and force it to finally engineer a solution to the crisis. As one former Israeli official put it, any attack on Iran’s reactors — as long as it is not perceived as a military failure — can serve as a means of “stirring the pot” of international geopolitics. Israel, in other words, wouldn’t be resorting to military action because it is convinced that diplomacy by the international community cannot stop Iran; it would be resorting to military action because only diplomacy by the international community can stop Iran.
Of course, as Rosner notes, such an outcome may not necessarily follow. Indeed, such a strike attack could yield, along with Iranian retaliation, international anger at Israel.