About a month ago I said that we should not stop paying attention to Iran because the fundamental reason for tension still exists. Last week presented another danger of war with Iran, and there are many people who want to view this through their ideology to dismiss the threat. The argument is essentially that warmongers and the establishment want to get us into another useless Middle East quagmire to fund the military industrial complex.
But that is an isolationist-driven argument that takes advantage of shallow attacks against the establishment and ignores vital points of international law and the economy. President Donald Trump has shown that he is against war but there are still provocations that need to be addressed.
For example, one of the basic tenets of naval military theory is the need to control the commons. These are areas around the world that are used for trade. Freedom of the seas is incredibly important to maintain/enhance the rule of law around the world. While conservatives generally think international organizations are lousy, and the UN (and others) has its fair share of problems, there is still an important role regarding freedom of the seas. Without a commitment to that freedom, the largest nations with the largest militaries or, simply, the largest militaries near certain areas, will rule by force and not law. This means China in the South China Sea or Iran in the Strait of Hormuz could illegally interdict trade (as Iran has done recently) or undermine neighbors (as Iran also does, supporting Yemeni and Syrian rebels for example.) So the U.S. responding to seized shipping is not just a neocon’s wet dream for starting another useless war, but a threat that needs to be countered for the sake of world peace.
But if that is too vague, simply consider your wallets. As much as 40 percent of the world’s oil moves through the Strait of Hormuz. Shutting down the Strait would cause an incredible rise in the price of oil in the U.S. It would hurt industries in the U.S., impact families on tight budgets, and impair the military which needs fuel to operate. It might seem immoral to fight a war for oil, but keep in mind that limited access to a vital strategic supply would actually increase the chance of war as nations maneuver to secure additional supplies. Again, securing the freedom of oil tankers to move through international waters near Iranian territory would actually help secure world peace, American economic prosperity, and the freedom of nations to trade without being bullied by local powers.
And all of this is before we get to the facts that Iran seeks nuclear weapons and funds terrorism as an arm of foreign policy. If Iran had nuclear weapons this would not only be a crisis leading to war, but a crisis leading to nuclear war similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
It might sound like the same old tune and be tempting to attack and dismiss the Washington establishment and warmongering neocons. But there are legitimate reasons to counter Iranian aggression. We don’t know what form American reaction will take, but if its war it is not an extension of the military industrial complex and similar isolationist arguments.