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They Are Totally Irrational

Thers at Whiskey Fire asked an important question in the post, Remains a Mystery:

Why is Regional Instability a consideration when we’re discussing getting out of Iraq, but not even remotely considered when the subject is Teaching Iran a Lesson?

This becomes relevant when addressing Kevin Drum’s post, Greenspan Elaborates, with Mr. Greenspan offering more context to his statement about Iraq and oil:

….”If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands,” Greenspan said, “our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first gulf war. And the second gulf war is an extension of the first. My view is that Saddam, looking over his 30-year history, very clearly was giving evidence of moving towards controlling the Straits of Hormuz, where there are 17, 18, 19 million barrels a day” passing through.

Greenspan said disruption of even 3 to 4 million barrels a day could translate into oil prices as high as $120 a barrel – far above even the recent highs of $80 set last week – and the loss of anything more would mean “chaos” to the global economy.

First off, someone really needs to buy Mr. Greenspan an atlas or globe that contains the Persian Gulf so he can see the flaw in his thinking. To control the Strait of Hormuz, Saddam would need an air force…oh, sorry, eliminated in the first Gulf War…or a navy…ditto on the boats. The other possibility would be getting permission from the very religious neighboring country with which he fought a decade long war to march along its gulf coast and then seal off a major source of its revenue from the oil it ships through the Strait of Hormuz. What planet is Greenspan from?

If, however we accept his numbers about the effect of disruption, his estimate of 17 or more million barrels of oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz, and his opinion that a disruption in excess of 4 million barrels a day would cause “chaos,” the insanity of attacking Iran becomes clearer.

Iran has multiple weapons systems available that can close the Strait of Hormuz. A serious threat by Iran to attack shipping would do it, as the companies that insure the tankers would refuse payment for anyone using the Strait.

There are a lot of ways of pressuring Iran, but an attack would be economic suicide for most of the G-7 nations. Russia would regain its place as a superpower, since they have their own oil, but everyone else would be in dire straits and would rightfully blame the US.

If the people proposing this are so interested in suicide they should go off to some isolated place and drink their Kool-Aid. Just leave the rest of the world alone.


1 Jack K. { 09.18.07 at 2:49 pm }

…now we know why Greenspan was chairman of the Federal Reserve rather than of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Iran would not stand for Iraq trying to “control” the Strait of Hormuz. and would have sunk Saddam’s naval vessels faster than he could buy or build them, even if he had all the oil money in the world…

As far as Thers’ question is concerned, my money is on the proposition that all such discussions or lack thereof have their roots planted firmly in the subject of Iran and its ability to project some ill-defined evil ‘influence’ beyond its borders. Hence, “regional instability” in Iraq would be due to Iran moving in and setting up shop (leading to Shiite-Sunni conflicts and some action by Turkey against the Kurds, not to mention the danger to the oil supply that we generally control by our presence), whereas bombing the ever-living daylights out of Iran would presumably keep it from “interfering” in Iraq or supporting groups of which Bushco disapproves, regardless of the destabilizing influences of our attack…

2 Bryan { 09.18.07 at 3:43 pm }

Someone needs to explain to these fools that the oil around the Persian Gulf is in majority Shi’ia areas. The entire coast of the Persian Gulf is majority Shi’ia, even when the countries are majority Sunni. All of the Shi’ia in Saudi Arabia live along the Persian Gulf. Attacking Iran is probably the end of oil production in the area for a very long time.

3 andante { 09.18.07 at 4:50 pm }

I don’t plan on reading the Greenspan book; nevertheless, given his understanding of geography it would be interesting to hear his explanation of the difference between “Arab” and “Persian” or “Shia” and “Sunni”.

4 Bryan { 09.18.07 at 7:20 pm }

Frankly, I’d like to hear his explanation of an adjustable rate mortgage, because that is his area of expertise and his understanding of how that works seems shaky to me.