Listening to all the pundits on talk radio here in New York this week, I got a feeling that I do not like. It was that same feeling I had right before we invaded Iraq (the second time around). Everyone seems to be beating a drum for a confrontation with the Iranians, and it probably has more to do with Iran’s nuclear program than with its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz; still everyone is acting like this is the most important 34-mile wide waterway in the world. Quite frankly, it is not, and threatening a war over it is American saber rattling of the most incredulous kind.
Depending on who is speaking, about twenty to thirty percent of the world’s oil supply goes through the strait each day. More importantly, it is the Iranians themselves who depend on this shipping lane to get their oil out to the world. If they close the strait, and no one does anything to stop it, then the Iranians are going to impact themselves just as much, if not more, than anyone else. Hungry for the money that oil brings and being economically crushed by sanctions, the Iranians are going to feel the pain that action brings and that will be all of their own doing.
America should not be the world’s police force in this (or quite frankly any other) matter. Many other countries will be affected by this closure, but there are alternatives for oil from Saudi Arabia and other nations, and it is perhaps a timely lesson to make big consumers of oil like China, Japan, and Europe start thinking about this for the long haul. It also wouldn’t hurt for oil producing countries in the gulf to look toward other means of getting oil out to the world, like pipelines to the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Oman, and the Red Sea.
The most important thing to take away from this is that America should not try to stop Iran if it takes this action. The world will see Iran as an aggressor, similar to Hitler attacking Poland or Saddam Hussein invading Kuwait. Once the action is taken, then it should be up to the United Nations to formulate a plan that includes many nations and not just one.
It is time for America to take a step back, especially during this presidential year. Any saber rattling, and make no mistake there is plenty going on involving everyone from presidential hopefuls to the guy on the street, is going to defeat the purpose of stopping an emboldened Iran from essentially blockading itself from the world. We should welcome rather than inhibit this action, for it will no doubt hasten the demise of the regime in Tehran faster than any American military maneuvers that will only stoke the flames of another war that we are unable to win.