Courtesy of ALI AKBAR DAREINI and TAREK EL-TABLAWY, AP today, "US warns Iran against closing key oil passage,"
The U.S. strongly warned Iran on Wednesday against closing a vital Persian Gulf waterway that carries one-sixth of the world's oil supply, after Iran threatened to choke off traffic through the Strait of Hormuz if Washington imposes sanctions targeting the country's crude exports.
Note the key point here: Iran threatened to choke off traffic through the Strait of Hormuz, which is an international waterway. What Iran is threatening is a blockade, which is an operation of war. The warlike nature of the threat is easily understood when one imagines what the Iranian naval forces would do if shipping traffic chose to ignore their warnings: they would attempt to sink, capture or turn back the ships by force of arms.
Note also that this is in response to non-warlike acts by America and the UN: the imposition of sanctions including an embargo, which is not imposed by force on any shipping other than that of those Powers agreeing to the embargo. The Iranians are saying that they have the right to go to war against countries who refuse to trade with them.
(*brief nod of "thanks" to the revisionist historians who claimed that Japan was justified in going to war aganist America because America refused to ship them iron and oil -- you guys helped create the perception on the part of the Iranians that they would be justified in doing the same thing*)
The U.S. Congress has passed a bill that penalizes foreign firms that do business with the Iran Central Bank, a move that would heavily hurt Iran's ability to export crude. European and Asian nations use the bank for transactions to import Iranian oil.
President Barack Obama has said he will sign the bill despite his misgivings. China and Russia have opposed such measures.
Way to go, Obama. Let the Iranians know that you have "misgivings," so as to create the perception that you are weak and irresolute and embolden them to try a blockade. Given the disparity in strength, this is the only way that even the Iranians would dare to launch a naval war against America: if they assume that we won't fight back.
What remains unclear is what routes the Gulf nations could take to move the oil to markets if Iran goes through with its threat.
About 15 million barrels per day pass through the Hormuz Strait, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
There are some pipelines that could be tapped, but Gulf oil leaders, who met in Cairo on Dec. 24, declined to say whether they had discussed alternate routes or what they may be.
Note the assumption here that America would back down before the Iranian threat: the obvious response to such an Iranian action would be to immediately begin smashing the Iranian Air Force, Iranian ground batteries, and Iranian warships so as to make it impossible for the Iranians to maintain their blockade. Thank you, Obama, for causing our enemies to assume that we are so weak.
Look on the bright side, Left. You may soon have another war to feel virtuous demonstrating against!
Oh, one more thing. Aren't you really glad right now that Iran doesn't have the Bomb yet? If this is how they behave when their words are not backed by nuclear weapons, how shall they behave when they are so founded?