Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Iran challenge of U.S. Navy

Iran’s recent challenge of the U.S. Navy can not be seen as a serious effort, other than possibly to offer the idea that in the event of war, Iran may be able to close the straight of Hormuz for a period of time. While closing the straight is an important consideration, the challenge of Iran to the U.S. Navy is a very small one. Why do I say this? Because the best surface on Earth for the U.S. military to fight on is over water. It requires warships to control the surface. It requires submarines, torpedoes and mines to fight under it and it also requires aircraft and missiles to fight above. All aspects are high tech and heavy on quality of equipment. I am leaving out the land aspect of any war with Iran at this time. The limit placed upon this discussion is a naval battle. This is leaving out any war of conquest or any punitive expeditions.

Closing the straight of Hormuz would be an economic blow to the world. Something like 40% of the world’s oil passes through that straight. However, it would not be decisive. Situations like this have occurred in the past. One example is that in 1942, Japan overran most of the rubber producing areas. We developed alternatives, which reduced our reliance upon rubber. This is not a quality comparison because oil is far more important today than rubber was in 1942. However, the industry of the rest of the world through the global economy would reduce the overall effect of any disruption in the straight of Hormuz by a significant amount. The effect would be delayed and very serious. Hardship would result. However, it would not be catastrophic. Any sunken ships would be eventually removed. Unless nuclear weapons were involved.

One line of thought is that once Iran has the bomb, they will no longer have to resort to these types of confrontations. Another thought is that when they get the bomb, they just may think like some of the suicide attackers and not become very hesitant to deploy.

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