Would somebody please explain to me (again) why we are undertaking to police the Straits of Hormuz?
My response was brief:
To insure that India, China, Japan, and S. Korea are supplied with oil.
But there's a longer answer--there has to be, since the topic is such a complicated one. That answer is provided in an article by Anand Toprani--an associate professor of strategy and policy at the U.S. Naval War College, a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of Oil and the Great Powers: Britain and Germany, 1914-1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019).
The article, OIL AND THE FUTURE OF U.S. STRATEGY IN THE PERSIAN GULF, was written in May, 2019, and seems prescient. I remarked earlier today that too much of the commentary on "the current crisis in the Middle East" is simplistic, whereas the situation on the ground--and at sea--is immensely complicated. In saying this I'm not suggesting that Trump's assassination of Soleimani was a mistake--that remains to be seen. What I am suggesting is that US disengagement from the Persian Gulf would not be easy--it would, in fact, have far reaching effects, not all of which would serve US interests. In speaking of disengagement, of course, we need to distinguish between engagement in "policing the Straits of Hormuz," as opposed to policing the whole Middle East. Unfortunately, the Bush and Obama administrations pretty much threw the entire Middle East up for grabs, so Trump's idea of disengagement cannot be easily accomplished.
Toprani provides a pretty comprehensive history of US strategic thinking regarding the Persian Gulf and the oil that flows through it to the world--from 1945 to the present. For our purposes, however, consider the following paragraphs excerpted from the much longer article: