In this CSM post, Ezrati comments on the Iranian oil bourse, noting it as a complete fantasy, for several good reasons, most of which can be summed up as “who wants to depend on Iranian law?”
But he also provides a very careful little suggestion of how to bring the Iranian dictatorship (for that’s what it is — Iran’s rulers use religious extremists who are actually in the employ of the intlligence community to crush their people, no differently than Milosevic used the Chetniks) to its knees: Iran is hardly in a position to make threats regarding oil: he brushes past the obvious implications as if they’re hardly there.
And Iran, whatever its political agenda, simply does not have the economic and financial wherewithal to hold back its oil altogether. Petroleum amounts to 80 percent of all Iranian exports, 45 percent of the country’s GDP, and 60 percent of the government’s revenues. With the economy there already rickety, any shortfall in oil sales would tempt financial, economic, and consequently political suicide for Iran’s current regime.
While Mr. Ezrati may feel the need to tiptoe past the obvious, there’s no need for us in blogistan to do so… if the US wants to retaliate seriously against the Iranian regime, while drying up the international money that goes to Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Quaeda, and doesn’t feel secure about its ability to take down Iranian air defenses… wiping out oilfield infrastructure would be a breeze.
And what’s more, such a strategy would not be out of place: if we document Iranian security elements engaged in direct or proxy actions against US troops, we have our casus belli for limited countermeasures, and neither Russia nor China will able to do anything else but make predictable but polite noises in protest. China, because it will follow Russia’s lead, and Russia because cannot it afford to lose one of its most effective propaganda levers for the justification of both legitimate defense and military adventurism in the Caucasus.
In this respect, US geopolitical and military strategy becomes quite clear:
1. Allow Iran to gain the lead in the leadership and financing of terrorism abroad.
2. Encourage other entities to cut funding, such that terrorists become dependent on Iranian oil money.
3. Open up the press conferences documenting Iranian proxy war, and declare war on Iran with said Iraqi casus belli, completely bypassing the UN (it’s not required, and although NATO troops wouldn’t be needed for such operations, the US can, if need be, put NATO in a diplomatic hammerlock on this issue).
4. Chop the oil money off at the kneecaps as soon as Iran takes one step over whatever is determined to be the red line.
Since Iran is completely dependent on imports for its gasoline — imports that cost money — its military will be effectively hamstrung. In this respect, Ahmadinejad may be trying desperately to obtain a nuclear trump card… but otherwise, he is holding an extremely weak hand. It is encumbent upon us to force him to play those cards, and sooner, rather than later.