Iran could be making a huge mistake here, because if the bluff is called, if it actually interrupts shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, the United States Navy will respond, it will reopen the Strait and it could destroy the Iranian navy.
But worse than that is this. There’s been a huge debate, of course, in the U.S. and the West about… whether anybody should attack the military facilities, the nuclear facilities, in Iran. And of course the risks are high and reluctance is great in the United States because it would effectively start a war.
However, if the Iranians block an international strait, that’s a breach of the most elementary rules of international law. It is an act of war. And if America reopens the Strait and the Iranian navy attacks America, that’s essentially a declaration of war on us.
And then the idea of declaring war is moot. And then it opens the chance that the United States might actually strike more widely than simply the Iranian navy and would hit other military facilities, and possibly nuclear [facilities].
Saddam in 1991 was a year or two away from acquiring nuclear weapons, and he made a mistake of starting a war in Kuwait. And as a result he never achieved that. If he had waited two years, he would have been [a] nuclear [power]. The Iranians are close. If they provoke a war here, they could be de- nuclearized and lose their entire strategic objective of becoming the hegemonic element in the region.
It’s an old issue. When Reagan wanted to sell AWACS, there was a huge argument in the U.S. that it could be used against Israel or, if the regime changed and becomes radical, then ultimately against us. Nonetheless, the answer today as it was in Reagan’s day is: You want to — you have to — arm the Saudis and the Gulf states who are allies because the threat is Iran. And Iran as the hegemon in the region would be… hugely dangerous to the United States and all its allies.