Regarding the Sept. 23 Outlook commentaries headlined “What if Israel bombed Iran?”:

The Israelis do not have the capability to achieve even the limited success described in the fictional scenarios presented. They could mount a small raid, that much is certain. And while that would inflict some damage, it would come nowhere close to achieving even a minor slowing of Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons capability, much less stopping it. That would require a major air campaign, which only the United States is capable of conducting.

Success, if achieved, would take far longer and cost more money and lives than most pundits seem to realize. Further, such an attack would likely become the catalyst for a broader Middle East war that could eventually cost thousands of lives.

The Israeli government knows all this well. Therefore, any attack such as the one described in the commentaries would have the sole intent of drawing this country into a war it does not want to be a party to. Sadly, for this reason, an Israeli attack is even more likely to occur.

Robert Thompson, St. Louis

Given Iran’s history of retaliating against its enemies by using terrorist proxies to strike civilian targets (Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, the Israeli embassy in Argentina), it was surprising that none of the three commentaries in the “What if Israel bombed Iran?” package suggested that one probable Iranian response to the bombing of its nuclear facilities would be attacks on American tourists and diplomats in Europe, Southeast Asia, South America and the Caribbean. Instead, the writers seem fixated on a jump in oil prices.

The fact that you initiate (or take part in) a war does not guarantee that your adversary will play by your rules. And once the winds of war start to blow, they can quickly reach hurricane strength. Faced with multiple terror attacks resulting in scores, if not hundreds, of American deaths, the United States will feel enormous pressure to invade Iran. In short, we could easily end up with a replay of the Iraq war, only with more casualties and less success.

Susan Altman, Washington

The single, inescapable thread that ran through the triptych “What if Israel bombed Iran?” was the sheer futility and stupidity of most military conflicts. The wise words of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, arguably one of the saviors of our republic, come to mind:

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only for those who have never fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

David Sherer, Chevy Chase