Unfortunately, an increasing number of sources are discussing the possibility of an "accidential" war between Iran and the United States. There are many voices describing the threat posed to the United States, Israel, and to western interests by an Iran possessing nuclear arms. Certainly, the hateful language of that theocratically-ruled country's president is certainly of great concern. However, the sabre rattling of the current administration in Washington is occurring within the context of what can only be charitably called a debacle in Iraq, which has stretched our troops very thinly in the prosecution of an ill-conceived conflict.
War is an extremely, extremely ugly thing and Iran is a very different place in which to pursue this horrible human invention than its neighbor Iraq. Iran is a much larger country. It has a multilayered military. It is more unified religiously. It has well-armed allies in both Lebanon and Iraq. It would be able to shut down oil supplies to the West, at least for a while, and so on. In other words, when people yell and shake their fists at each other, someone is likely to make a mistake and slug the other party and, suddenly and surprisingly, we're going to have one hell of a war on our hands, a war that the majority of people in all of the nations involved would feel justified in pursuing, a war that would make a lot of people angry and afraid, a war that would not have an easy or near term end.
Obviously, students of the near and long term future have a lot to be concerned about by this. The amount of money that we're spending on the "War on Terror" is already staggering, especially since its results are so muddy. At the same time the Bush administration is proposing an increase in the Pentagon's budget by 10%, it is proposing massively scaling back social programs like Medicare, let alone not expanding peaceful versions of foreign aid. The current war has had many negative consequences for the US and its expansion would likely mean more of the same.
A severe tightening of the labor market would be one of the results of a new front in the Middle Eastern war. Full mobilization of reserve forces in the US and elsewhere would be likely and a national draft in the US would also become much more probable. Social polarization would definitely intensify in the US in the face of a draft, unless an overwhelmingly convincing argument could be made in support of it. It would be a very unstable time in the US and throughout much of the world. That might be good because instability can sometimes generate needed changes, but it sure won't be comfortable! Workplace scenaricists would be advised to develop plans that contemplate the eventuality of yet another factor cutting into the availability of qualified and focused employees. A bigger war will make it much more difficult to pursue business as usual.