asymmetrical retaliatory capabilities that range from sowing hundreds of mines in the Strait of Hormuz (through which passes 30 percent of the world’s seaborne oil) to taking out oil production facilities in hostile Gulf nations, as well as attacking U.S. bases and facilities throughout the Middle East. Oil prices wouldn’t take long to triple.
Most of Mr. Bolton’s geopolitical backers were those also arguing for the invasion of Iraq, beginning a whole year before it took place in 2003. After spending more than $1 trillion in Iraq, the U.S. now has the world’s largest embassy in Baghdad — 104 acres on the banks of the Tigris River, 15,000 employees, including 2,000 diplomats (vs. 85 in neighboring Turkey), at a cost of $736 million and $1 billion a year to run — but it still has lost the battle for influence to Iran. At least that’s what recent high-level Iraqi officials say when speaking privately on their visits to Washington.
There is nothing new about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
In 1968, a few months before Richard M. Nixon was sworn in as president, Britain’s Prime Minister Harold Wilson decided that his country would give up all of its security obligations east of Suez, all the way to Singapore. The Nixon Doctrine then anointed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran as the guardian of the Persian Gulf and its statistics-defying oil reserves.
Throughout the 1970s, the shah spent tens of billions on troop carriers — from nine Boeing 747s to huge Hovercraft — so he could react in less than a day to any coup attempts in the Gulf by the Soviet bloc and its friends, such as Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Throughout the post-world War II era, Britain managed the same security watch with its Trucial Oman Scouts units for $40 million a year.
In 1972, the shah predicted to this reporter that one day Iran would ensure the security of the Persian Gulf by becoming a nuclear power. No sooner was the shah deposed by the mullahs in 1979 than secret plans were laid to pursue the same quest.
Three decades later, they are almost there.