Iran’s Ace Weapon: Why the US Won’t Gamble on an Iranian War by Finian Cunningham

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by Finian Cunningham
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
22 April, 2010

Strait of hormuz

Given the crescendo of veiled and increasingly unveiled military threats by the US and Israel against Iran, one has to admire the Iranians for their coolness under extreme pressure. The latest despicable – and in some legal opinion, criminal – threat by the White House that it would use atomic weapons against nuclear-unarmed Iran in the event of a conflict has been dismissed by the authorities in Tehran, who say they remain determined to pursue their civilian nuclear energy programme.

Far from being cowered, Iran has just launched three days of military war games in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Republic carries out such manoeuvres every summer, but this year it has brought the exercises forward. No official explanation has been given, but it clearly is meant to be a signal to the US and its coterie of western allies that Iran will not be brow beaten by threats of economic sanctions and military strikes, including the threat of unleashing the most terrifying of weapons.

In this game of high-stakes poker, how is it that Iran can stay so composed? It is because Iran holds the ultimate weapon, not a weapon of mass destruction that the US claims it is seeking, but a weapon of mass disruption firmly within its grasp and ready to trigger immediately – the blockade of the Strait of Hormuz.

This is the narrow stretch of sea between Iran and the United Arab Emirates and Oman to its south that connects the Persian Gulf to open international waters. Some 40 per cent of global ship-borne crude oil passes through this channel every day. According to the US-based Energy Information Administration, an average of 15 tankers carry 16-17 million tonnes of crude oil through the Strait daily. Oil producers in the Gulf, including the world’s top supplier, Saudi Arabia, are totally dependent on this passage for their oil exports, which account for 80-90 per cent these countries’ total revenues. This is the world’s most sensitive choke-point for oil trade.

Iran has previously said that if it is attacked by the US or its allies it will blockade the Strait, and no doubt the current war games in the Gulf are aimed at underlining this warning. But it is only recently that Iran has acquired the maritime capability to deliver on its counter-threat. For example, during the 1980-88 war with Iraq when Iran was being bombed with chemical weapons by US client Saddam Hussein, Tehran did not have the capability to shut off the Strait. Nor in 1988 when the US shot down an Iranian civilian airline, killing 290 people onboard.

But over the last few years, Iran has invested heavily in building up a fleet of high-speed military boats equipped with anti-ship missiles and sonar-evading torpedoes. And it can be safely assumed that the Iranians have perfected maneouvres to ensure the rapid and complete shut-down of all shipping out of the Gulf. This task is made all the more feasible by the natural geography of the Strait. The Persian Gulf is a shallow sea so any ships that are sunk would represent hazardous obstacles that could not be easily removed. Also, although the Strait is some 20 miles across, the shipping traffic lanes are only six miles wide: two miles for incoming tankers, two for outgoing and two miles for a separation margin between both.

Under international maritime law, Iran (along with Oman) has sovereign territorial rights over these waters. Iran has under United Nations law agreed to grant “innocent passage” to ships through its waters provided there is no infringement of its security. Therefore, as energy analyst Ali Mallakin points out, Iran has the legal right to withhold passage if “its sovereignty is not respected” such as if the US were to launch a unilateral military strike against the country.

By that stage, of course, the argument will be merely academic. For the US will have launched yet another criminal war and the world economy will be plunged into darkness. Given the fragile state of the international economy, shutting off the Strait of Hormuz will explode the price of oil and with that any vain hope of economic recovery. Sitting under a multi-trillion-dollar mountain of debt, the US has furthest to crash and the social implications for this crumbling empire – already seething from widespread misery – cannot be overstated. The consequences for the US will quite possibly be more powerful than those from any weapon of mass destruction.

Both Iran and the US know this. Despite the chips that Washington is piling on to the poker table, both players know that it is Tehran that holds the high ace. That’s why the US will not dare gamble a war on Iran. And it will keep its Israeli attack dog muzzled.


Israel not to attack Iran: Biden

22 April, 2010

US Vice President Joe Biden dismisses the notion that Israel might attack Iran, saying that Tel Aviv has agreed to await the outcome of new sanctions against Tehran.

“Everyone from the Israeli prime minister straight through to the British prime minister to the president of Russia, everyone agrees the next step we should take is the UN sanction route,” Biden told a program on ABC television on Thursday.


via Israel not to attack Iran: Biden


Iran seeks IAEA suspension of US + Iran rightfully calls for America to be suspended from IAEA

Possibility, Probability of Nuking Iran by Gaither Stewart

6 thoughts on “Iran’s Ace Weapon: Why the US Won’t Gamble on an Iranian War by Finian Cunningham

  1. Quote: “Therefore, as energy analyst Ali Mallakin points out, Iran has the legal right to withhold passage if “its sovereignty is not respected” such as if the US were to launch a unilateral military strike against the country”.

    This should also apply if economic sanctions are applied against Iran. I’m not absolutely certain of this, and whille this analogy is not necessary, I’ll nevertheless use it. When the U.S. President initiated an oil embargo against Japan and Japan treated this as an act of war, which it really was, then Japan’s retaliation by attacking U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor and the other location, which I have read was even more strongly hit, was arguably justified. Sure, it wasn’t pleasant, but the U.S. criminally, hegemonically, … initiated the oil embargo and that was an act of war.

    Whether people agree with me in this above analogy or not would not change my view that Iran would be justified in shutting down the Strait of Hormuz if economic sanctions are applied against the country; instead of only being justified if the U.S. and/or Israel militarily attack Iran. In both cases, Iran’s sovereignty would be transgressed. And, either way, or in both cases, the U.S. and its allies would be acting hegemonically, hypocritically, imperialistically, and so on. They would be the criminals; not Iran.

    Quote: “The consequences for the US will quite possibly be more powerful than those from any weapon of mass destruction”.

    Well, the U.S. is its own weapon against itself, as well as the rest of the world. Similarly, the U.S. is its own worst and real enemy. It has no other real enemies! These present wars in or against Iraq, Afghanistan, and the extension or expansion into Pakistan, besides covert and low-scale U.S. wars, militarily and economically, really are also war that the U.S. leadership has been committing against the population of the USA. Whenever the leadership, military, and so on, of a country act criminally towards others, then they are also criminally acting against their own populations. This is all very elementary to understand.

    When we carefully consider the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, as well as employ ethical reasoning, then we can see that the crimes against the population of the U.S. by U.S. leadership are many. About the only crime, or one of the few crimes, not committed against the population is outright military war. There aren’t soldiers raiding homes and killing the males in the homes, or hauling them away to be imprisoned in torture prisons without any justification for even bringing them in for questioning. There aren’t tanks, helicopter gunships, aerial bombers, … attacking the population. But there’s nevertheless war being committed against the population.

    We can see this if we don’t restrict or constrict the definition of war to necessarily involving military strikes, and many people do refer to economic war, so at least these people can perceive war happening in more than only one way.

    For enlistees, the crimes become perhaps clearer. F.e., during the recruitment process they’re mostly LIED to. Each lie from recruiters as well as from the political leadership to entice citizens into serving in or only into supporting wars is a criminal offence. When the political leadership lies to the population in order to try to gain our support for war, then it is an act of war against the population; instead of only being an act of war against the targeted countries.

    With wars of aggression, which are the only kind the U.S. has committed, throughout the country’s history, there seems to be an innumerable number of crimes committed. There’s the war of aggression, the supreme crime, and many related crimes. When soldiers die in war or because of having served in war of aggression that they were deceived into believing was a just war, then we can consider this as acts of murder by our political leadership.

    Perhaps the population has been criminally acted against for so long and so many times, in so many ways, that they’ve become numb to it, too dumbed to realise what is really going on; like having become desensitized to the point of becoming dehumanized, say. It’s not the whole population, but nevertheless a majority. F.e., it was reported during the past six months or so that the majority of the population in the U.S. wanted the gov’t to withdraw from Afghanistan, but then came Obama with his plan, implemented we now know, to send 30,000 more troops, and, now, all of a sudden, a majority of the population supported this.

    That is illustrative of a very [dumbed] down population! It’s like the or a majority has [no] real ability to think critically and ethically; just a bunch of follow-the-leaders, dumbed down, numb, desensitized or never-sensitized, … animals, creatures.

    What do such people do with their leisure time, watch Disney fantasy-living all of the time?

    Imposing sanctions against Iran, like the sanctions maintained against Cuba, f.e., constitute a criminal offence towards each of these countries, but also towards the population of the USA. Constitutionally, we have no right to impose sanctions without just cause and the U.S. leadership hasn’t had a just cause for imposing sanctions during my lifetime; and I’m now 53. Perhaps one or two countries merited sanctions, but the U.S. has never been in an ethically legitimate position to be able to preach to others, and much less to be able to punish others. It’s always hegemonic, hypocritical, and so on; and that is always criminal.

    U.S. foreign policies are about being globally dominant and the U.S. leadership has gained a lot of ground in this respect, but the mere effort of trying to be the globally dominant power is criminal. It will never be done in ways that are not criminal; certainly not by the U.S. anyway. The U.S. has no significant period of history, in terms of length, that is, of being a good gov’t. It’s always been extremely criminal.

    Iran will be justified in shutting down the Strait of Hormuz even if the U.S. and its allies only commit the international crime of imposing economic sanctions. Economic sanctions would strike against Iran’s soverignty and would impact the whole population of the country; instead of only the gov’t bureaucracy and leadership. And even if the sanctions could be restricted to the latter group, then these would still be criminal to apply or impose.

    There is no action that the U.S. and its allies can take against Iran without it being criminal!

    Any severe international action against Iran will permit it to shut down the Strait and to flip us all the birdie, while smiling.

    I hope none of my words in this post are unacceptable for DS.

    So, you can probably guess what I think about VP Joseph Biden’s words, right? Let me help readers who might some day read this post and not be able to guess the answer. His words make him intellectually sound like a child cub scout coming from or raised in a non-educational family.

    He should cut out all of the bs (excuse my language) and just stick by and defend the Constitution, ethical policy-making, etcetera. But does he have enough intellect to be able to do this? I haven’t seen any proof that he does; not yet anyway. And I have read that he was very much a pusher for the war on Iraq. Well, so he’s clearly not someone we can entrust the safeguard of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, or ethical reasoning to.

    He seems awfully [junior], intellectually, and spiritually. It’s like he has no soul; just being a wind bag of CO2. On the other hand, CO might be more fitting than CO2. After all, CO2 is not toxic, but CO is, as are also U.S. policies and policymakers.

    The next elections in the U.S. need to bring about a major correction, cleaning of the Congress; after which there’ll be some chance of doing the same with the Senate and the executive branch.

    • Mike,

      Thank you for your considered comments. You eloquently make the point that the US government has already overstepped the line of infringing on Iran’s sovereignty. I think the Iranians wisely know that the US is, as you say, its own worst enemy and they are patiently waiting for it to incur its own demise.

      • Yes, and many people having been saying for some years now and continue to say that the way the CRAZY elites who’ve (basically) hijacked the U.S. gov’t and run it in lunatic ways [for empire], well, all previous empires have collapsed and it was always due to overreach, exaggeration, crazily running the empire. So as you say, the Iranian leadership is surely aware of this U.S. empire on the path of decline, self-implosion, ….

        Unfortunately, they refuse to destroy their perceived U.S. empire peacefully.

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  4. Please note: The water way rights are those of any nation’s “territorial waters”, and that “Agreement”, including, to keep the Straight of Hormuz open to “innocent passage”, are all under: international maritime law. Maritime Law is the Law of the Sea, or the Uniform Commercial Code.

    The UCC is the most harsh law there is. These are firm Contracts, with terms and conditions. If broken, they can be remedied in the International Bank of Settlements, wherein the US could be liable for paying all the loss of commerce through the Strait of Hormuz. ALWAYS follow the money.

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