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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Is War In The Middle East Inevitable?

Is War In The Middle East Inevitable?

“Trying to think the way this president thinks is difficult.  Doing nothing is his favorite option and most Americans don’t subscribe to that type of “stand there and take it” philosophy.” - DRH

By Dell Hill

I don’t really like the idea of starting the new year off by suggesting we might be suckered/forced or coerced into another war, but that’s the reality of it all.

As everyone knows, Iran has threatened to blockade the Strait of Hormuz if the United Nations proceeds with the next higher level of economic sanctions for failing to adhere to it’s strict policy on the Iranian nuclear ambitions.  The intensity level moved up another notch today with the announcement that Iran has successfully tested its first nuclear fuel rod.

The political aftermath - as expected - has been everything short of an actual declaration of war against Iran.  And that’s where this post begins.

The factors to seriously consider include:

1)  Iran is very clearly the recipient of outside professional help in advancing it’s nuclear program - quite probably from Russia.  Intelligence sources are consistently reporting surprises; progress that was unanticipated and well ahead of the schedule a normal nuclear program would require, strongly indicating outside help.

During recent war games in the vacinity of Hormuz, the Iranians say they’ve “practiced laying mine fields” (among other saber rattling announcements) in the narrow strait that borders on their country.

Source: U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

Note the actual shipping lanes, identified by the west-to-east-to-south bars just beneath the wording “Strait of Hormuz”.  This is a very narrow passageway that requires experienced pilots to navigate.  One or two vessels sunk in this area would effectively shut down the flow of crude oil almost instantly.  

2)  A huge portion of crude oil is transported from the Middle East, through the Strait of Hormuz daily.  Any interruption in that flow of crude oil would cause prices to skyrocket - especially in the United States.  

The current OPEC price for crude is just over $100 a barrel and there have been suggestions that closing Hormuz would result in that price being doubled.  In turn, that would cause the “price at the pump” to more than double it’s current national average of $3.258 per gallon.  That would have Americans digging to the tune of $6.50 or higher for each and every gallon.  Putting 20 gallons of fuel in your rig would extract $130.00 from your wallet!

Such reality would totally destroy any possible economic recovery for the beleaguered US economy and demands for corrective measures would be quite loud, indeed.

3)  The very strong political movement toward wind and solar energy programs, all being highly touted by the Obama administration for months, would actually be enhanced by the price of “gas at the pump” going through the roof.  Some have gone so far as to suggest that Obama take no action at all should Iran throw up a Hormuz blockade, thus making highly suspect alternative energy sources a viable option.

Just last week the Obama administration approved the construction of the first nuclear energy plant in the US since 1996, thus indicating acceptance of nuclear plants as one of its alternative energy sources of the future.  A move that won’t be well received by the left wing element of the Democrat Party, but, at this point, they’re committed to him and their resistance will be faux and quickly subside.  The reaction from the national media would be totally defensive - as it has been for the past four years - and suddenly you’ll be hearing them tout “how safe” nuclear energy really is.  A total reversal of their earlier line.  It will become just one more glaring example of just how deep Obama is in their hip pocket.

What will Obama do?  Always an interesting topic for discussion.

My prediction is he will do what he does best - nothing.  On every other major issue, Obama has voted “present” and done nothing.  I see no reason for him to do anything different now.

He may elect to allow a very limited military operation to prevent Iran from blocking Hormuz, but it would be limited more to threats of action, as opposed to real, physical action or reaction.

Trying to think the way this president thinks is difficult.  Doing nothing is his favorite option and most Americans don’t subscribe to that type of “stand there and take it” philosophy.

Will Iran take the drastic step of closing Hormuz?

I honestly don’t believe they will.  To do so would literally destroy their own economy, which depends greatly on the sale of crude oil to the tune of about 20% of their GDP.  The Iranian economy is actually worse off than the American, so it would not be a prudent move for the Iranians to voluntarily commit political suicide.

I would strongly predict that the Iranian people would rise up in violent protests should such steps be taken, adding even more instability to the entire Middle East.

What will Israel do?

Based on the extremely poor relationship between Obama and the Israelis, I believe the Israeli government now sees itself as “on its own” with respect to any movement by the Iranians.  And, left to its own devices and extremely strong intelligence apparatus, the Israelis could initiate a military strike against Iran at any moment.  In fact, I’m a little surprised they haven’t done so before now.

Some have suggested that Israel was responsible for at least two major explosions and fires in and around the Iranian nuclear facilities recently, and they may very have been.

As I have suggested several times, the absence of US military forces in Iraq leaves the Middle East in a very vulnerable position.  As far as Israel is concerned, with governments being toppled almost daily, it was NOT a wise move to extract our military forces so quickly.  But, by doing so, this may just be all of the impetus that Israel needs to determine its own fate....which is exactly what I believe they will do.

The Israelis have several irons in the fire.  A constant vigil on the events in Gaza is of the highest priority, but they’ll never take their eyes off of Iran.  They can only hope that the Saudis and Turks can provide a strong enough military and governmental opponent to the Iranians and prevent an Iranian takeover of the entire area.

Stay tuned.  I know the US economy is totally on the front burner, but the situation in the Middle East will always be tenuous and bear close scrutiny.       

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