The left leaning Guardian newspaper in the UK thinks war is coming to a Middle East near you, quite probably in the fall of 2012. That is the message of this article by reporter Chris McGreal.The basic argument is simple. First, Washington has despaired of sanctions. They will not change the Iranians’ minds about the nuclear drive.Second, sanctions still have a purpose. They deter Israel from striking right away, and make clear to the European that the Obama administration isn’t seeking war in the way that its predecessor did in Iraq. War is truly a last and very unpleasant option.Third, given the choice between a nuclear Iran and a military strike, the Obama administration will take the military option.Fourth, under certain conditions, Israel might pre-empt the Obama administration, moving most likely in the early fall of this year. That timetable fits with what Israelis have been saying about the amount of time remaining before Iran makes much of its program invulnerable to Israeli military strikes. It also fits in well with the US political calendar, from an Israeli point of view. President Obama is unlikely to punish Israel for an attack on Iran that takes place in the two months before an American election.The Guardian‘s analysis is good, but it leaves out an important factor that complicates the picture: it’s likely that an Israeli attack on Iran in the fall would improve the President’s chances of reelection. Voters often rally to the president in times of crisis; Jimmy Carter initially got a boost in the polls during the Iranian hostage crisis. Guaranteeing President Obama a second term does not seem like a principal aim of the current Israeli government; from that standpoint, a date either this spring or next November after the US elections might work better.Also noteworthy: the Guardian piece does not analyze the prospects for “peaceful coexistence” between the US, Israel and a nuclear Iran. It’s interesting, to say the least, that none of the many US officials with whom it spoke (other than Congressman Dennis Kucinich) seemed to think that opposition to the Iranian nuclear program will stop short of war.At the stately Mead manor in glamorous Queens we are still very much hoping for a peaceful end to this madness, but it is hard to ignore the darkening clouds on the horizon.