Most terrorism experts say a direct face-to-face confrontation between Iran and the United states is not in the best interests of Iran. They say what is most likely is a mixture of global, terrorist inspired attacks.
Despite sanctions against Iran that prevent U.S. companies from sending support and parts for Iranian aircraft, Iran still can assemble a credible air strike, most probably against Israel. But many of Iran's pilots have deteriorated flight training credentials and many could be shot down in an engagement.
Iran still has several long range aircraft capable of prividing some level of surveillance of the Persian Gulf and toward Israel. But many of these aircraft are older U.S. models like P-3s and their maintenance in the past several years is suspect. Plus these aircraft have no self defense systems.
President Ahmadinejad also has a corps of highly capable special operations forces from the the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) militias, and the highly specialized and extremely deadly Qods Force. These troops could be used to infiltrate Iraq and attack high priority Iraqi targets like the oil infrastructure and/or U.S. facilities and troops.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, "I hope the actual actions would be based on international law. And international law clearly protects Iran's and anyone else's territorial integrity."
Christian Science Monitor reporter Scott Peterson discussed this issue of a possible Iranian retaliation at some length in an article today. Among the experts he spoke to is Magnus Ranstorp at the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.
"One very important issue from a US intelligence perspective, [the Iranian reaction] is probably more unpredictable than the Al Qaeda threat,"- said Ranstorp.
"I doubt very much our ability to manage some of the consequences,"- said Ranstorp.
"If you attack Iran you are unleashing a firestorm of reaction internally that will only strengthen revolutionary forces, and externally in the region,"- Ranstorp told Mr. Peterson. "It's a nightmare scenario for any contingency planner, and I think you really enter the twilight zone if you strike Iran."-
If the United States becomes involved with Iran militarily we might expect a strong anti-U.S. denunciation from the United Nations. Many member nations enjoy the prospect of annoying the U.S. and most feel burned or lied to by the U.S. ever since Colin Powell, while President Bush's first term Secretary of State, gave a long justification for the war in Iraq.
But Israel will never forget that Mr. Ahmadjinedad did famously say that Israel should be "wiped from the map."
"The United States does not need permanent enemies, we have permanent friends," Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said addressing the Council for Foreign Relations on Thursday evening.