A nuclear Iran is going to create a dramatic change in the region. The first lesson certain leaders learned from the Arab Spring is to get nuclear capability and become immune to outside pressure. They consider Gaddafi to have made a big mistake when he gave up his nuclear program. No one would have dared to use force in dealing with him. No one would have dared to use force against Saddam Hussein in 1991 or 2003 if he would have had a nuclear capability.
Next, imagine the behavior of radical non-state actors under an Iranian nuclear umbrella. They will be more aggressive and will dare to do things that perhaps right now they are not willing to do. After the Mumbai terrorist attack, a senior Indian military officer replied to our question of why India did nothing, when everyone knew who was behind the attack. He said that when the other side has a nuclear capability and a will to use it, you think twice.
From Israel's perspective, the regional turmoil is not a “spring.” A year ago our assessment was that these revolutions will be hijacked by others and this has come true. We think the risks for the mid-term and long-term are greater than the opportunities. These revolutions were hijacked by well-organized groups with a solid agenda and ideology, and the dominant tone is Islamist, colored by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In Syria, the day after Assad's regime comes to an end there is a possibility that this major player will be removed from the radical axis. But we do not know who will be in control of Syria's huge stockpile of strategic chemical and biological weapons.
Israel's ability to achieve a decisive outcome from any conflict has also changed. We have the capability to hit any adversary very hard, but the last rocket may well be fired from the other side. There will be no more knockouts. In future conflicts, we may be exchanging fire until the last minute, and we will not see a white flag being waved.
Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel, Commander of the Israel Air Force, is former Head of the IDF Planning Directorate.