John Bolton and Israeli rightwingers have found a new way to escalate tensions in the Middle East.
Despite being one of the world's largest manufacturers of crude oil, Iran's capability for refinement is limited. More than 40 percent of the petroleum products consumed by Iran are produced in refineries located in neighboring countries. The American (and British) fleet could impose a naval blockade and keep oil tankers transporting the refined petroleum products to Iran from entering the Persian Gulf via the Straits of Hormuz.Doesn't it seem more likely, though, that a naval blockade of Iran's ports would spark exactly what it is supposed to be preventing? Utter insanity, unless that's the idea all along.
Blocking the supply of refined petroleum products to Iran would prompt its leaders to conclude that the U.S. is planning a military strike against them. In order to prepare for such an eventuality, they would place the country's entire stock of refined petroleum at the disposal of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the army. This would create a severe fuel shortage in the civilian market and the state would sink into chaos. Such a situation could inspire Iran's leaders to reach the conclusion that their nuclear program is a recipe for national disaster and could potentially provoke the collapse of their regime - and that it should therefore be halted.
If the naval blockade does not produce this effect, then the U.S. (and Israel) could still reserve the option of a military strike as a last resort. This is the scenario being promoted by John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and one of the Bush administration's more hawkish members, who is also due to attend the conference.
And yet the ex-Mossad man who will propose this plan at an upcoming conference, Dr. Shmuel Bar, aslo admits that even if Iran was to ever develop a nuclear weapon then a form of Mutually Assured Destruction could be engineered in the region were Israel to upgrade its conception of deterrence, at the center of which must be "a sharp and unmistakable message, so that it will be clear to all parties from the outset that they must not get caught up in a spiral of crisis." By a remarkable coincidence, Israel tested a new ballistic missile yesterday.
Attending the same behind-closed-doors meeting will be "several of the American intelligence officers who were involved in the drafting of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), according to which Iran suspended its secret nuclear military program back in 2003".
Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that discussion.