A “limited” military strike on Iran is an impossibility. Any air strikes, by American and Israeli air power sent to destroy Iran's nuclear infrastructure will fail. Any military action against Iran by the United States will be interpreted by Iran’s rulers, and their IRGC enforcers, as a direct assault on Islam. Islamic IRGC commanders will paint any American involvement at all with an Israeli military assault as a green light to attack American civilian targets here in America.
The Iranian Military command will respond with vicious and brutal tactics. Killing wholesale, bloody, and graphic will be the means to deter the Americans public from supporting a follow up set of air strikes.
The Iranian High Command will wish to avoid what happened to Saddam Husein's regime in Iraq in the during the 1991-2003 conflict. Iraq was so weakened by sanctions and repeated small-scale military attacks that it quickly collapsed in the face of American and British invading armies.
The range of expected responses range from dramatic hit and run attacks against civilian and commercial shipping in the Persian Gulf. Ballistic missiles attacks against American, Israeli, and European assets in the Persian Gulf region. Add to that, escalating the war against American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Within 48 hours of the first air-strikes Iran will declare all out war against Israeli and American civilian populations as well.
What is less predictable is the response of the IRGC Qods Force, which is likely to be at the forefront of the Pasdaran’s counter-attack. The IRGC Qods Force is believed to have mapped out the American intelligence apparatus in the Middle East, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran's Qods Force suspect that the CIA had a hand in last October’s Jundullah-organised suicide bombing targeting IRGC commanders in Iran’s volatile Sistan va Baluchistan province.
The IRGC navy will also play a key asymmetrical role in the conflict by organizing maritime suicide bombings on an massive scale. By manning its fleet of speedboats with suicide bombers and ramming them into American, British, and Israeli warships as well as International commercial shipping interests in the Gulf. This way the Iranian High Command will hope to disrupt all crude oil supplies traveling through the Strait of Hormuz. This would cause world oil prices to skyrocket. In the US domestic gasoline prices would quadruple in less then a weeks time.
American forces in the region are already strecthed thin with scant supplies and shortages in many key areas. An all out Iranian assault would likely result in thousands of American military casualties in a very short time frame. The political fallout from these casualties would change the American political landscape very quickly.
Even if the United States manages to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and much of the country’s military assets, Iran can claim victory by drawing American blood quickly. Much like the Israeli-Hezbollah military summer battle of 2006.
Even if the Israeli and the Americans succeed it will galvanize Iranian nationalism. It will also shore up Iran’s image in the region among the Gulf's lesser players such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Even if we accept that Iran’s nuclear programme has a military dimension, the immediate reaction of Iran’s rulers to military aggression would be to start an all out secret program to produce a nuclear weapon as fast as would be humanly possible.Ultimately, sanctions, a regime change, or even buying the Iranians off, is preferable to the costs of a successful military strike.
That is how dangerous and costly this would be....
A successful strike which gives the Israelis and the Americans all that they want is still a failure.
Military action against Iran is a fail-fail scenario.