Will Blockading Iran Work? What Does History Tell Us?
With Iran’s nuclear program shrouded in mystery people have begun to think, no fear, that it is being used for the development of a nuclear weapon, and not for peaceful purposes. Israel has pressured the US to not only impose economic sanctions on Iran’s chief export, petroleum, but essentially a financial blockade has been put up in a attempt to bring Iran to its knees. What Americans seem to forget is that we did this exact thing back in the 50’s which led to an overthrow of the ruling regime. And while people may say that is what they want, today’s Iran is a result of that coupe.
Even though Iran’s supreme theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, came out explicitly and condemned the use of nuclear weapons, calling them tools of the devil because they kill civilian noncombatants, world leaders fear it is just a smokescreen. It is now becoming popular talk to speak about how to diffuse the situation, through a military act.
The Obama administration added a amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (the same one which allows the government to hold American citizens without any charges indefinitely) which imposed sanctions on any firm or country that buys petroleum from Iran.
These types of sanctions usually don’t go unnoticed, and can hold a pretty heavy message. Iran interpreted them in a way that led them to conduct naval exercises at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. Essentially saying, “If you can’t buy our fuel, you can’t buy anyone’s.” One fifth of the worlds petroleum comes through the Strait.
Even with the help of the European Union, Iran still has a market for its petroleum in Asia. They sell 64% of their product to Asian markets anyway so the US and EU boycott does not hurt them as bad as we might think. And if we ask the Asian countries to curtail their purchases of Iranian petroleum we run the risk of raising tensions to a boiling point.
Unfortunately the rest of the world’s petroleum suppliers probably cannot make up for the loss of Iran’s output and therefore Iran will win this economic battle due to the basic principles of supply and demand. So for now we might have to try and let cooler heads prevail and wait for concrete evidence of an attempt to build a nuclear weapon before we take any more aggressive steps. The American people should not allow false intelligence reports to trick us again, but Americans always did have a problem when it comes to learning from our mistakes.
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