Trivial Pursuit By The Press Corps

We have a quickly changing international situation brewing with the seizure of ships by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz. Decisions made in the White House could have major consequences in the lives of all Americans. Hopefully the right decisions will be made, but the situation is worth everyone’s attention. But I guess the Press Corps has other things on its mind.

Yesterday The Washington Examiner reported that shortly after receiving news that two tankers had been seized by the Iranians, the President was talking to the Press Corps.

The article reports:

President Trump was asked if he was “in favor of banning plastic straws” by a reporter on Friday afternoon, just a short time after an Iranian provocation in the Strait of Hormuz.

“Are you in favor of banning plastic straws?” a reporter asked the president outside the White House.

“I do think we have bigger problems than plastic straws. You know, it’s interesting about plastic straws. So you have a little straw, but what about the plates, the wrappers, and everything else that are much bigger and they’re made of the same material? So the straws are interesting, everybody focuses on the straws, there’s a lot of other things to focus on. It’s an interesting question.”

Evidently there was some context for the question:

“Trump Straws” went on sale on the Trump campaign website on Thursday. The 10-pack of reusable red straws are laser engraved with “Trump” on them, and the description reads, “Liberal paper straws don’t work. STAND WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP and buy your pack of recyclable straws today.”

I don’t know whether I would have been so gracious as to answer the question. It seems as if the Press Corps is playing Trivial Pursuit and ignoring the major news around them.

Unfortunately This Is Going To Require A Response

Fox News is reporting today that two tankers flying British flags have been seized by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz.

The article reports:

Fox News has learned that a second Liberian tanker operated by a British company was also seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and was seen on maritime tracking services making a turn, headed towards Iran.

President Trump said Friday that Iran is “nothing but trouble” and that “we heard one, we heard two,” tankers were seized.

Iran seized a British-flagged oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz earlier Friday amid growing tensions in the region.

The Stena Impero, which has a crew of 23 onboard, “was approached by unidentified small crafts and a helicopter during transit of the Strait of Hormuz while the vessel was in international waters,” Stena Bulk, the shipping company that owns the vessel, said in a statement. “We are presently unable to contact the vessel which is now heading north towards Iran.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard forces, in a statement on their website, say the ship was seized for “non-compliance with international maritime laws and regulations” and is being brought to an unnamed Iranian port, according to the Associated Press.

Websites tracking the ship’s path show it turning sharply in the direction of Iran’s Qeshm Island, instead of its intended destination of Saudi Arabia.

“We are urgently seeking further information and assessing the situation following reports of an incident in the Gulf,” a U.K. government spokesperson told Fox News.

In July 2018 Reuters posted the following:

With a third of the world’s sea-borne oil passing through it every day, the Strait of Hormuz is a strategic artery linking Middle East crude producers to key markets in Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and beyond.

That dynamic has changed slightly due to the fact that America now exports more crude oil than they import. The countries that will be hurt by problems in the Strait of Hormuz will be Europe, India, and China. I am sure that America will be willing to help Europe, Russia will also increase her oil production. The price of oil will rise sharply, but it is doubtful that the Strait will remain closed.

The latest report that I have heard is that there are actually three tankers that have been seized. This is an international problem and should be handled by the international community in unison.

Making America Energy Independent

There are a lot of entities that have a vested interest in preventing America from becoming energy independent. The obvious ones are OPEC and the Soviet Union. When you look at the money behind the anti-pipeline and anti-fracking movements, you will see a lot of Saudi Arabian money and a lot of Russian money. Why? Some scientists believe that the oil and natural gas resources in America reachable by fracking are larger than the oil resources in the Middle East. Fracking will quickly end OPEC’s monopoly on the world’s oil supply. It will also prevent the possibility of Iran at some point blocking the Strait of Hormuz. Thirty percent of the world’s oil travels through the Strait of Hormuz. Imagine the disruption of the world’s oil supply if that Strait was blocked. Right now, Russia is the largest supplier of natural gas to Europe. The pipelines run from Russia to Europe. Russia has been known to threaten Europe with shutting down the pipeline if Europe does not comply with Russia’s wishes. American oil and natural gas would also alleviate that threat. The environmentalists who are blocking the development of America’s fossil fuel reserves are serving as useful idiots for OPEC and the Russians. The elevated status these objectors were given during the Obama Administration is about to end.

The Daily Caller is reporting today that the Trump Administration is getting ready to open up new areas to offshore oil and gas drilling.

The article reports:

Industry sources familiar with the matter told Platts an executive order is in the works to rewind Obama’s decision to make large swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic off-limits to oil and gas drilling.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told industry representatives the new drilling plan would be signed soon, according to Bloomberg. However, he gave few details on what the order could include.

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) new five-year offshore drilling plan could take years to develop and would replace the Obama administration’s five-year plan finalized in November.

Like it or not, fossil fuel fuels the world’s economy. Until the free market is allowed to work to develop a reliable source of green energy, fossil fuel will continue in that role. The good news is that natural gas is an extremely clean-burning fossil fuel, and America has plenty of that.

The article concludes:

Trump is expected to sign the order by the end of April, and it’s sure to draw legal challenges from environmentalists who’ve argued Obama’s indefinite ban on Arctic and Atlantic drilling can’t be overturned.

Obama used Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law governing offshore drilling, in an unprecedented way, blocking leases in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

Obama’s order took 125 million acres in Arctic seas and four million acres in the Atlantic Ocean out of future lease sales indefinitely. Supporters said the former president’s actions “permanently” banned drilling in those regions.

But the drilling ban is only permanent if Congress doesn’t change the law or Trump doesn’t move to test it in court. Past presidents have reduced the size of Section 12(a) designations but never fully repealed them.

The U.S.-held portion of the Arctic Ocean is estimated to hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The oil and gas industry has struggled to access these vast energy reserves but new discoveries in northern Alaska have reinvigorated some interest in the region.

Energy independence is both a matter of national security and economic success. Cheap fuel prices will bring industry back to America. American labor costs may be higher than the almost-slave labor that exists in some countries, but American quality control standards are also high. Lowering energy costs (and lowering corporate tax rates) will be a positive step toward reviving an American economy that has not been doing well in recent years.

We Might Have To Stand Up To This Bully

Reuters is reporting today that an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard vessel pointed its weapon at a U.S. military helicopter in the Strait of Hormuz on Saturday. Recently there have been a series of similar incidents, but this is the first such incident since the election of Donald Trump.

The article reports:

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the incident took place when a Navy MH-60 helicopter flew within half a mile (0.8 km) of two Iranian vessels in international waters. One of the vessels pointed a weapon at the helicopter, the U.S. officials said.

“The behavior by our standards is provocative and could be seen as an escalation,” the officials said. At no point did the crew of the helicopter feel threatened, they added.

Years of mutual animosity eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran in January after a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But serious differences still remain over Iran’s ballistic missile program, and over conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

President Obama has chosen to overlook bad behavior on the part of the Iranians–even thanking them for the return of sailors they took prisoner. President Obama has even loosened the economic sanctions on Iran, something I am hoping President Trump will undo.

Ronald Reagan got it right when he advocated for ‘peace through strength.’ Weakness invites war–it does not prevent it.

 

While We Are Preparing To Sign A Nuclear Arms Treaty…

Yahoo News is reporting today that Iran has seized the Maersk Tigris cargo ship in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz. Yesterday the U.K. Telegraph carried the story.

The Telegraph reports:

The vessel had apparently declined to change course and steer towards the Iranian coast. Warning shots were then fired across the bridge and the ship was boarded by personnel from the naval wing of the Revolutionary Guard Corps and steered towards the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

The container ship was travelling from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to the port of Jebel Ali in Dubai. It was flying the flag of the Marshall Islands and chartered by Rickmers Ship Management, a company based in Hamburg. The vessel is owned by Maersk, the Danish shipping and trading conglomerate.

…Fars, the semi-official Iranian news agency, described the ship as a “trade vessel” which had been “seized by the Iranian navy” at the request of the country’s Ports and Maritime Authority.

Fars added: “The ship was seized after a relevant court order was issued for its confiscation.” No further explanation for Iran’s actions was offered.

The idea of simply seizing the ship and the innocent people aboard the ship does not seem like the appropriate response to the court action.

Meanwhile, Yahoo News reports:

Iran’s foreign minister told a New York City audience on Wednesday that Tehran respects freedom of navigation in the Gulf, a day after Iranian patrol boats seized a Danish container ship in one of the world’s busiest oil shipping lanes.

“The Persian Gulf is our lifeline … We will respect international navigation,” Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said during a discussion hosted by New York University’s Center on International Cooperation and the think tank New America. “For us, freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf is a must.”

This doesn’t sound like freedom of navigation.

Yahoo News reports:

Maersk said in a statement that it was in communication with the Danish Foreign Ministry and trying to ascertain why the Maersk Tigris had been diverted.

Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization said a court had ordered the ship seized after ruling against Maersk Line in a case about debts brought by Pars Talaie, an Iranian company.

Zarif told the audience on Wednesday that Maersk was required to pay damages on the basis of a court order. He said the legal proceedings had been going on for some 14 years.

“Simply, our naval forces implemented the decision of the court,” Zarif said in New York, characterizing Maersk’s actions as “peculiar.”

Tasnim, an Iranian news agency, quoted a Pars Talaie lawyer as saying the debt involved a cargo that Pars Talaie had hired Maersk to take from the Iranian port of Abadan to Dubai more than a decade ago but which never arrived.

This is another example of what happens when America has a weak President. There were American warships in the area, but Iran had no reason to fear them. This is also an example of the lawlessness of Iran.

Training Exercise In The Middle East

The U. K. Telegraph posted a story yesterday stating:

Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.

Approximately 35 percent of the world’s oil that is transported by sea travels through the Strait of Hormuz (approximately 18 million barrels of oil every day). The theory is that if Iran is attacked, it will immediately move to close the Strait. America will be able to get some of its oil from Canada, but Europe will be very hard hit if the Straits are closed. Closing the Straits would have a devastating impact on the economy of the entire world.

The article reports:

In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.

The article presents a rather detailed picture of the operation and what it is designed to prevent.

There are differing opinions as to when and if Israel will attack Iran. Obviously, Israel cannot afford to let Iran produce a working nuclear weapon–even if Iran chose not to use the weapon against Israel (a major question in the discussion), the possession of nuclear weapons by Iran would seriously change the balance of power in the Middle East. A Shiite nation, Iran, would have a bomb to use against the Sunni nations in the area (such as Saudi Arabia). Even though much of the Middle East unites against the west, the tribal and religious splits in the region are very important. Iran going nuclear could result in turmoil in the Middle East that has nothing to do with either the United States or Israel.

It is my personal opinion that if Israel feels that Mitt Romney is going to be elected, they will not attack Iran until after the Presidential election because they feel that he will aid them in their effort. If the Israeli government feels that President Obama is going to be re-elected, they probably will attack before the election.

No attack on another country is ever good, but Iran going nuclear is worse.

 

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A Game Of Chicken In The Straits Of Hormuz

Townhall.com posted an Associated Press report on recent tensions in the Straits of Hormuz. Iran is conducting military exercises in the Straits supposedly practicing closing the Straits, which the Iranians have threatened to do if Western countries impose economic sanctions because of Iran’s nuclear program. America has stated that it will not tolerate any disruptions to the Straits. Excuse my skepticism, but based on how America has handled the entire nuclear program in Iran, I am not sure how seriously America’s statement will be taken.

The article reports:

The U.S. Congress has passed a bill banning dealings with the Iran Central Bank, and President Barack Obama has said he will sign it despite his misgivings. Critics warn it could impose hardships on U.S. allies and drive up oil prices.

The bill could impose penalties on foreign firms that do business with Iran’s central bank. European and Asian nations import Iranian oil and use its central bank for the transactions.

Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, with an output of about 4 million barrels of oil a day. It relies on oil exports for about 80 percent of its public revenues.

The interesting part of the above statement is that Iran relies on oil exports for about 80 percent of its public revenues. The question is simple–“Would Iran be willing to cut off 80 percent of its revenue in order to continue its nuclear program?” Are we leading up to a situation similar to what we had in Iraq’s ‘food for oil’ program, where the leaders on the country will live very well and the people will starve?

I am making no bets on who will blink first.

 

 

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