I think you are all well off the mark. Consider first why Iran wants to be a nuclear power? Well not to use it as clearly any use invites massive retaliation. The point is to appreciate the price of oil, a commodity they have. Now do your conjectures again and bear in mind the gulf oil and the Caspian gas, which the Russians would love the grab the transport fees for - remember the South Ossetian grab? Why did the Russians do that? How does mining the Straits of Hormuz help Iran and what would be the cost? How would moving into Tiblisi help the Russians and what would the cost be? Suppose they both did it at the same time? Ask yourselves these questions.
No such thing as a good tax - Churchill
To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.
I have serious doubts about the US be able to pull it off, regardless of all discussed so far. There is the issue of what-to-do EVEN if you topple the regime, and Iran is no pushover.
IMO, Iran believes possessing nuclear weapons will prevent invasion and regeim change attacks. It wants these weapons to provide immunity from attacks. What really happens if they succeed will probably be much worse - it will supply weapons or knowlegde to another generation of nuclear weapons states, and decrease the stability of the world - by making a nuclear attack more likely.
"If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for ten years, plant trees.
If your plan is for one hundred years, educate children."
"Draft beer, not people."
Iran in an intensely urban nation. 1/5th of Iran's population lives in Tehran itself. Fully 70% of the population lives in urban centers. These urban centers depend on a steady flow of goods, fresh water, waste and electricity. None of which can be hardened. Cripple even oen and the cities become pits of despair with all eyes focused on the Clerics and demanding relief.
Being a hardware guy, I'd say it wouldn't be too hard to load DG up with a wing of B-2's and a couple of wings of B-1's, along with tanker support, and carry out a fairly leisurely air campaign against the Iranian infrastructure a la Arc Light. I'm not saying we'd be able overthrow the regime (something that has NEVER been done by air power alone), but we would definitely hurt the regime's ability to rule the nation and continue their nuclear enrichment program.
"There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish. The thing is to try to do as much as you can in the time that you have. Remember Scrooge, time is short, and suddenly, you're not there any more." -Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge
What exactly is the motive of any military action in this hypothetical scenario if there is no end to it? Going to cost a bomb (sic), raise oil prices - for nothing?
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