Not long ago an editor at a respected scientific journal contacted me. He wanted to know if I could expand—scientifically—upon the scenarios I sketched out in my recent book, assessing the likelihood of nuclear war in the Middle East. The book began with an account of a 2007 Israeli raid on a nuclear reactor being built in a remote corner of Syria. A hushed-up rehearsal, perhaps, for a future raid on Iran.
In these conjectural sketches I had adumbrated the possibility that by the Law of Unintended Consequences, an attack by Israel (or by Iran) could lead to a cascade of ever more grave developments, ranging from a regional nuclear war to, potentially, a global one. New, perhaps unanswerable questions have emerged in the interim as tension over Iran’s (and Israel’s) intentions have escalated. And they are certainly worth examining, but are they soluble by science?