Tanker Seizures and the Threat to the Global Economy from Resurgent Imperialism 333


The British seizure of the Iranian tanker off Gibraltar was illegal. There is no doubt of that whatsoever. The Iranian response to the seizure of its tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, by the seizure of a British Tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, was also illegal, though more understandable as a reaction. The implications for the global economy of the collapse of the crucial international law on passage through straits would be devastating.

It may seem improbable that the UK and or France would ever seek to close the Dover Strait, but in the current crazed climate it is no longer quite impossible to imagine the UK seeking to mess up access to Rotterdam and Hamburg. It is still easier to imagine them seeking to close the Dover Strait against the Russian Navy. Yet the essential freedom of navigation through the Kerch strait, respected by Russia which controls it, is necessary to the survival of Ukraine as a country. For Turkey to close the Bosphorus would be catastrophic and is a historically recurring possibility. Malaysia and Indonesia would cause severe dislocation to Australia and China by disrupting the strait of Malacca and the Suharto government certainly viewed that as an advantage from which it should have the right to seek to benefit, and was a continued nuisance in UN Law of the Sea discussions. These are just a few examples. The US Navy frequently sails through the Taiwan Strait to assert the right of passage though straits.

Keeping the Strait of Hormuz open is perhaps the most crucial of all to the world economy, but I hope that the above examples are sufficient to convince you that the right of passage through straits, irrespective of territorial waters, is an absolutely essential pillar of international maritime law and international order. The Strait of Gibraltar is vital and Britain has absolutely no right to close it to Iran or Syria. If the obligation on coastal states to keep maritime straits open were lost, it would lead to economic dislocation and even armed conflict worldwide.

Part III of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea relates entirely to passage through straits.

Please note that the right of passage through straits is here absolute, in a UN Convention which is one of the base blocks of international law. It does not state that the right to transit through straits can be subject to any sanctions regime which the coastal state chooses to impose; indeed it is clearly worded to preclude such coastal state activity. Nor can it be overridden by any regional grouping of which the coastal state is a member.

Jeremy Hunt’s statement to parliament that the Iranian tanker had “freely navigated into UK territorial waters” was irrelevant in law and he must have known that. The whole point of passage through straits is that it is by definition through territorial waters, but the coastal state is not permitted to interfere with navigation.

It is therefore irrelevant whether, as claimed by the government of the UK and their puppets in Gibraltar, the tanker was intending to breach EU sanctions by delivering oil to Syria. There is a very strong argument that the EU sanctions are being wilfully misinterpreted by the UK, but ultimately that makes no difference.

Even if the EU does have sanctions seeking to preclude an Iranian ship from delivering Venezuelan oil to Syria, the EU or its member states have absolutely no right to impede the passage of an Iranian ship through the Strait of Gibraltar in enforcement of those sanctions. Anymore than Iran could declare sanctions against Saudi oil being delivered to Europe and close the Straits of Hormuz to such shipping, or Indonesia could declare sanctions on EU goods going to Australia and close the Malacca Strait, or Russia could declare sanctions on goods going to Ukraine and close the Strait of Kerch.

There are two circumstances in which the UK could intercept the Iranian ship in the Strait of Gibraltar legally. One would be in pursuance of a resolution by the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. There is no such resolution in force. The second would be in the case of a war between the UK and Iran or Syria. No such state of war exists (and even then naval blockade must be limited by the humanitarian measures of the San Remo Convention).

What we are seeing from the UK is old fashioned Imperialism. The notion that Imperial powers can do what they want, and enforce their “sanctions” against Iran, Syria and Venezuela in defiance of international law, because they, the West, are a superior order of human being.

The hypocrisy of arresting the Iranian ship and then threatening war when Iran commits precisely the same illegal act in retaliation is absolutely sickening.

Finally, there will no doubt be the usual paid government trolls on social media linking to this article with claims that I am mad, a “conspiracy theorist”, alcoholic or pervert. It is therefore worth pointing out the following.

I was for three years the Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I was Alternate Head of the UK Delegation to the UN Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. I both negotiated, and drafted parts of, the Protocol that enabled the Convention to come into force. I was the Head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre and responsible for giving real time political and legal clearance, 24 hours a day, for naval boarding operations in the Gulf to enforce a UN mandated embargo. There are very few people alive who combine both my practical experience and theoretical knowledge of precisely the subject here discussed.

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333 thoughts on “Tanker Seizures and the Threat to the Global Economy from Resurgent Imperialism

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      • Goose

        The International Editor for Channel 4 News Lindsey Hilsum said as much in her report. She questioned the legality of the seizure of the Grace 1. If journalists can’t discuss such things, we might as well call it a day as a country.

          • Goose

            History teaches us that the pendulum eventually swings back.

            It’s a dark time now for investigative journalism and discourse generally(worldwide)but eventually authoritarian leaders are voted out; the powerful overreach and there’s a reaction.

      • Kerch,we Kerche,ee Coup

        Use silver chopsticks toe eat with as they tarnish on contact with undesirable additives and watch those toothpaste tubes

  • Republicofscotland

    The British state is following the US when it comes to impinging on international law. It will be very interesting to see how Boris Johnson handles the dispute with Iran now he’s PM.

    • michael norton

      RoS Boris Johnson has got rid of Penny Mordaunt and replaced her with a retired Scots Guards Captain,
      Robert Ben Lobban Wallace, ex director of Quintiq, ex minister of State for for Security, ex minister for Northern Ireland, where he also served in the military.
      This is no light weight.
      New frigates are being ordered.
      The U.K. recently reenergised our base in Bahrain, now known as HMS Jufair, this is where the frigate F236 Montrose is now based.

      • Republicofscotland

        The Great Satan’s minion Britain won’t attempt to take on Iran by itself, gone are the days of Britannia ruling the waves.

        No Britain will cling onto the coattails of the US military machine if events take a turn for the worse.

        Britain reminds me of Irish writer James Joyce author of such works as Ulysses, who would go drinking with the American writer Ernest Hemmingway, who penned books such as the Old Man and the Sea. Joyce would get drunk and pick a fight, then hide behind Hemmingway (a larger built man with a temper) shouting get him Hemmingway, deal with him now.

  • Brian c

    The demonization of Iran is being ratcheted up now in media sources which had previously been insisting Donald Trump was a grave threat to the world. Despite everything that’s been happening in Britain this week, Channel Four News led last night with the story of a Finnish-iranian woman who was imprisoned in Iran briefly in 2016 and subjected to psychological torture. There was an “exclusive” interview with the woman by Lindsey “the west is good the rest are bad, naarr!” Hilsem. It seems clear that the west must intervene, yet again, on humanitarian grounds.

  • Goose

    If the aim was to goad Iran into a reciprocal seizure for the Grace 1, the Iranians have taken the bait.

    This all has a depressing familiarity about it. It’s quite clever really, if it was a ploy; as now it gives justification for the buildup of naval forces that otherwise simply wouldn’t have been assembled. Amazed how gullible European countries are offering to support the UK’s European Gulf maritime protection squad. It seems obvious what the next thing to happen will be: some unprovoked attack that makes no sense whatsoever but gives the vital casus belli.

    All this talk in the press about Hunt choosing to reject US offers of assistance favouring a European initiative is laughable too.

    • Chris Leeds

      Goose – I think the Iranians knew exactly the bait set – but rather than mounting a futile and redundant ‘diplomatic protest’ they chose to trigger the trap and provoke the next step in this dangerous theatre of absurdity. It works for them at home demonstrating willingness to up the ante. It makes the EU look even more askance at us in the UK . To the EU, we have moved from ‘pain in the arse please go away soon’ to being a security risk, a loose cannon with scant regard for the law, an unstable and unpredictable ex leaving a trail of disasters and unpaid bills all over town. It makes the US administration happy. which makes me sad. It makes Mr. Putin laugh. Those busy trying to extricate themselves from the rubble we have made of their countries must now hold us in contempt even more. The rest couldn’t give a crap as long as we don’t drag them into it.

      • Doc Holliday

        I have read other analysts on the internet who have made the point that Iran knows that the US and its UK poodle have gotten far out onto a rather weak limb. The last thing on earth that the Trump campaign wants is to get into a quagmire war just before the election. Especially when such a war could crash the world economy as the price of oil skyrockets. Thus, knowing the situation, the Iranians are prepared to escalate to call Trump’s bluff. The Iranians appear to feel that this is the best path for them to get the sanctions removed.

        Besides which, previously the political debate between factions in Iran was between those who wanted to negotiate JCPOA with the Great Satan, and the hardliners who said that such a path was a futile waste of time. Trump has proved the hardliners correct, and now negotiating with the Great Satan does indeed seem futile. This creates a situation where negotiations to resolve the issue seem pointless, but where Trump is obviously bluffing and overplaying a weak hand. This leads to the apparent Iranian strategy of calling Trump’s bluff by re-raising him every time he bluffs.

        • Goose

          I’d guess Trump’s also hamstrung by a Democrat controlled Congress which I’d imagine favours reviving the Obama administration’s JCPOA?

          The Democrats have a strong hand to play opposing conflict; one potentially more productive than the silly ‘Russian collusion’ nonsense, which itself seems to have hit a dead end now, with the confused testimony of an increasingly doddery and frail Robert Mueller.

  • Deb O'Nair

    “The Strait of Gibraltar is vital and Britain has absolutely no right to close it to Iran or Syria.”

    The reason the oil tanker was transiting through the Strait of Gibraltar in the first place is because the US instructed the Egyptian Suez Canal Authority to deny the Iranian tanker access to the Suez. Seems like this was an incident manufactured in Washington from the beginning with UK playing the compliant patsy. Hunt initially stated that it was nothing to do with the UK and (laughably) insisted it was a matter for the authorities in Gibraltar.

    • bevin

      I’m fairly certain that the tanker in question could not have gone through the Canal.

      • Paul Randall

        I have also seen reporting that said that it would not fit through Suez in its loaded condition.

        • Doc Holliday

          Similarly, I have also seen reporting that the tanker could not have entered the Syrian port that the UK claims was is destination because its draft at the time it past Gibraltar was 6 or 7 meters too deep for the port.

      • Deb O'Nair

        There are facilities to accommodate large oil tankers; off-loading the oil and pumping it to the other end of the canal.

  • Clark

    Good grief, not again; how many times must Craig and his blog have to campaign against an insane, unwinnable war with Iran? There was that time some British captain deployed a dinghy of expendables into disputed waters. The various drone incidents. And of course the Fox-Gould-Werritty conspiracy.

    • Clark

      Iranians are presumably the “wrong sort of Muslims” – US-UK governments seemingly prefer those deployed by Gulf monarchies to commit major terrorist atrocities.

      • Goose

        It was reported that Egypt’s Immigration Minister Nabila Makram faced criticism after she was seen in a video threatening to behead dissidents abroad during an official visit to Canada. Really chilling, in light of the gruesome death of Mr.Khashoggi.

        Only last night, we had people threatening to throw themselves off the Bahrain embassy roof in London. Owen Jones retweeted their desperate pleas : “I am risking my life demanding that @borisjohnson call the King to stop execution of #torture victims Ali AlArab and Ahmed AlMalali. I will throw myself off the rooftop if they are executed”. These are people protesting for democracy.

        The UK and US support the most brutal regimes in the world and it’s outrageous.

        • Goose

          Saddened beyond words. Appalled that the #Bahrain Government executed two young men whose “confessions” were extracted under torture. These are arbitrary killings.

          So it went ahead in the early hours UK time. 🙁

      • Vivian O'Blivion

        Tulsi Gabbard being interviewed 4 weeks ago.

        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=60Eo0bIlSls

        8:30 in, America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is raised. Gabbard’s response; we must “stop pretending that they’re our allies”, Saudi Arabia offers “direct and indirect support of …. Al Qaeda”

        My jaw hit the deck! Gabbard doesn’t give a shit. She tells it like it is.

        • Goose

          To be fair, she’s on 1% in some polls – consistently one of, if not the lowest ranked of the prospective presidential candidates. She probably feels she can say whatever she wants at this point in an attempt to stay relevant and that may include being controversial. One thing is for sure, if she had any chance the media would be relentlessly going after her. As for whether it’s the message or messenger? Probably both, there are certainly better advocates.

          • Rhys Jaggar

            But Google are now in litigation with Gabbard as they blocked clickthru to Gabbard material after the big debate until everyone was safely fast asleep.

            Gabbard served in Iraq, knows BS when she sees it coming from the MIC, so Google is under orders from MIC to interfere in the democratic process.

            I hope the judge awards punitive damages and the entire board of Google get sacked by irate Wall Street investors.

            As well, Google needs to be deplatformed as they cannot behave with any ethics.

            But the Big Boys know how to cheat to get their way…

        • Doc Holliday

          Representative Gabbord has filed a bill in the House of Representatives that is titled something like “The Stop Providing Arms to Terrorists Act” where she specifically tries to cut off this pipeline of arms to Al-Qaida and its jihadists by any other name. This is not a new topic for her raised in her campaign to get attention for the campaign. Instead, it appears to be the other way around (note I say appears, as only an insider could know). Her campaign is an extension of the work she’s been trying to do in Congress for the last several years. I feel it shows a needed consistency in a field where most other politicians are willing to take positions they have previously opposed in order to attract suckers.

        • bevin

          “The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday passed (398-17) a nonbinding resolution condemning the BDS movement.
          “Gabbard is the only presidential candidate to vote for the bill. Two of the three Democratic members of Congress still running for president, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Tim Ryan of Ohio, were absent during the vote. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, known for her pro-Israel views, was absent during the vote as well..”

      • Republicofscotland

        It’s ironic that the Carter adminstration helped pave the way for the ayatollah Khomeini just weeks ahead of Iran’s Islamic revolution, now the US is desperate to remove the latest ayatollah.

        Iran is of course sitting on vast supplies of oil, and more importantly its a direct threat (In the minds of some) to Israel, and the Sunni country of Saudi Arabia.

        Israel having a very prominent voice through poweful lobbying groups and politicans of a certain persuasion wants Iran neturalised before they posses nukes. Sanctions don’t seem to be enough to break Iran, ergo another cunning plan must be implemented, however the UK/USA warhawks must make it look like Iran is the aggressor, and gain political approval to take it to the next level.

        There’s nothing like a good war to boost Trump’s re-election chances next year, and war with Iran would turn heads away from Boris Johnson’s inevitable failing tenure as PM, and he’d use to to galvanise the union.

        • Rhys Jaggar

          The reasons these MPs salivate for war is that no one ever carries out a missile strike on Westminster. I would cheer from the rooftops if 500 MPs lost their lives getting a taste of their own medicine. Iran represents no threat, there is no legal basis to go to war with them.

          It is like being told you have to join the Kray gang and politely applaud when the psychopaths slit some throats of those who refuse to pay menaces money on the nod.

          • Republicofscotland

            None of the fallout, all of the fun. 😀

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=jOKf5r_JMAo

            I’d hate to see such a fantastic architectural building like Westminster razed to the ground. As for some of the politicians inside, well…..

            Seriously though, Chomsky said, If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged. That could apply here in Britain as well I’d imagine with some ex-PM’s.

        • michael norton

          As Mr. Putin once said the future is not oil it is Methane.
          Iran has the largest known resource of Methane, almost twenty percent of the World easily recoverable Methane.
          There has been a plan to pipe Methane from the Caspian Basin, through Russia/ex-Soviet states/Iran/Iraq/Syria/Lebanon and into Europe, so if this were to happen, Iran could effective close the strait of Hormuz and bugger its belligerent neighbours and with Russia largely control supply of gas to much of the World.

        • Doc Holliday

          A war with Iran now would destroy Trump’s already feeble re-election chances.

          He could get away with some sort of quick strike, where he could claim Mission Accomplished and then have it all resolved before the campaigns seriously start. In fact, he apparently tried to negotiate permission for such a Kabuki Theater type of strike with Iran, but the Iranians laughed in his face. Starting another quagmire war would kill his chances completely.

          • Republicofscotland

            “A war with Iran now would destroy Trump’s already feeble re-election chances.”

            History might show otherwise, apparently no wartime US president has been defeated for re election.

            James Madison, the War of 1812, reelected in 1812.

            Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, reelected in 1864.

            Woodrow Wilson, World War I, not at war but nearing it, reelected in 1916.

            Franklin D. Roosevelt, World War II, not at war but nearing it, reelected in 1940, and then at war, reelected in 1944.

            Lyndon B. Johnson, using the Vietnam War issue through the Gulf of Tonkin, elected in 1964.

            Richard Nixon, Vietnam War, reelected in 1972.

            George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, reelected in 2004.

            Obama was at war, in one form or another through the entire time of his re elected tenures (Afghanistan).

            http://www.theprogressiveprofessor.com/?p=19187

          • Muscleguy

            Iran has fairly advanced weaponry, it is no pushover. For eg it has Russian surface to ship missiles capable of hitting any ship in the Gulf. If the war shit hit the fan I wouldn’t want to be on an American or British ship in the Gulf. It would be HMS Sheffield again.

            Iran would bet on a big loss of American lives and material would quickly turn the country, Congress and Senate against the President and the war.

        • pretzelattack

          i think you mean the reagan administration, the carter administration supported the shah still, continuing u.s. policy which had helped install him in the first place.

        • Deb O'Nair

          The reason that the US has withdrawn from the Iran nuke deal and is agitating in the region is because Iran is selling oil to the Chinese using a non dollar currency. Saddam Hussein was tolerated by the US for over a decade until he started selling oil in Euros. The same was true of Gaddafi and now Maduro in Venezuela. It really is that simple; they would rather weave a complex web of insane lies than admit this basic, verifiable fact.

    • Piotr Berman

      This has a kernel of a good idea. Select proper expendables and send another dinghy. Perhaps with a more posh vessel would be in order to load the valiant members of HMG.

  • Deepgreenpuddock

    I feel a cringe in relation to my(official) nationality as I read about this matter. I can only hope that Johnson’s ‘spaffing’ (not my word leads to an accelerated Scottish nationality.

  • William MacDougall

    Very interesting post, and I had hoped to see your take on this. Could the British argue that the Iranian tanker was not sailing through the straights, but rather had stopped in British territorial waters to take on supplies, and therefore the British were entitled to enforce EU sanctions law (against Syria)? Difference between transit and stopping?

      • Doc Holliday

        Thanks Craig! That was the claim I had heard made somewhere on the internet. I appreciate the clarification. 🙂

      • Jo

        Hence Brazil courts insisting Iranian tankers must be refuelled not banned by a refuelling company there because of fears of repercussions from USA sanctions?

  • MJ

    “the EU sanctions are being wilfully misinterpreted by the UK”

    Presumably since neither Iran nor Syria are members of the EU the sanctions don’t apply.

    • Goose

      They aren’t UN sanctions.

      The vessel is not registered in any EU member country either. Therefore technically not subject to EU sanctions.

      These were the points Channel 4’s Lindsey Hilsum made.

    • Borncynical

      Precisely, MJ. Quite simply, the EU sanctions (Article 6 of EU Council Regulation 36/2012) prohibit any EU Member State from importing, purchasing or transporting oil either produced in Syria or produced in another non-EU country and being imported into the EU via Syria. The key point is that EU sanctions (of any sort) are only legally able to impose restrictions and prohibitions on what EU Member States are allowed to do and not directly on what the non-EU country which is effectively the target of the sanctions can do. So for the UK to say that Iran should not be delivering oil to Syria is absolute nonsense.

      I wrote to my MP a week ago quoting these sanctions and their legal basis, and asked him to obtain for me the legal basis for the UK’s seizure of the Grace 1 tanker. I facetiously added that I would expect to receive the information quickly as it had presumably been given to Ministers and the PM to inform their opinion regarding the right to seize the tanker. Needless to say I haven’t yet had any response but I shall give him a few more days.

  • S

    Why are people with the experience that Craig has not interviewed in the mainstream media?

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The mainstream media need youthful naïveté or battle hardened monsters to plug the party line.

      An informed helicopter view from an independent principled voice would give Murdoch, Barclays etc immediate reason to send the editor to St Helena.

      You must jettison your view that the MSM speaks truth to power. They spin lies to the public.

      • Goose

        The BBC needs a major overhaul of its process & governance

        Last year Corbyn proposed : the election of some BBC board members, the reduction or removal of the government’s powers of appointment, as well as complete transparency about the diversity and make-up of the BBC workforce.

        Essential stuff.

  • AlexT

    You took your time but I was convinced this would be eventually covered here, as this topic is definitely one area of your expertise.
    Thanks.

  • Baron

    That’s the best slicing of the Iranian crisis by more than a mile, Craig. In a country of true democratic credentials it would be guiding the Government relations with the Persians. Thank you.

  • Trowbridge H Ford

    Cannot Iran’s taking British tankers be seen as an acceptable countermeasure, given how it was done, and what it has done since?

    • craig Post author

      No, an illegal act is not an acceptable riposte to an illegal act or the law disintegrates. I think my description of it as an understandable reaction is correct – but not the right one.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I am cynical enough to say this:

    1. arrest Jeffrey Epstein.
    2. Threaten that Epstein name names, insinuating that Trump will be one of them.
    3. Tell Trump he needs a war and some blood money to hush up the legal professionals if he wishes to win 2020.
    4. Make it clear if he refuses to go to war, the Rottweilers will paint him as the biggest pedophile since Franklin Boys scandal.
    5. Put some false flags in motion, but drag it out to bring Trump to a frenzy of morbid anticipation.
    6. Dangle a massive trade deal at Boris contingent upon going to war.
    7. Throw some prominent democrats under the Epstein bus, restoring Trump to parity in the polls.
    8. Nobble Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq khan with a barrage of US interference of British democracy. Tell Boris he owes ’em, war or we do the same to you.
    9. wheel out the Mossad to threaten Yemen-style Armageddon for Palestinians unless they can bulldoze 100 more settlements.
    10. Threaten to run ‘trump paid $30m to silence six children aged under 15 from telling the media/police/democrats about their statutory rape by Donald Trump’ all over the febrile liberal media. Give him 24 hrs to declare war or else.

    Is this really the way the world works?

    If so, it shows that exercising a vote every few years does not restrain billionaires exerting undue interference every week of every year….

    I hope it is- bit more honourable than that….

    • Casual Observer

      Dont expect too much from the Epstein business ? In all likelihood he was running some updated version of Salon Kitty that entrapped enough of the great and good of all nations, that were they all to be revealed, the public confidence would be damaged to the detriment good order.

      Its of interest that the ‘New’ action is being pursued by the SDNY Attorneys, virtually the head office of what has become known as Trump Derangement Syndrome. Given that such action would in all probability cause many Democrats to fall into ignominy, one might surmise that the SDNY has been captured by the ‘Squad’ and its followers to the extent that some sort of Samson option is hoped for ?

      • pretzelattack

        the squad has nothing to do with trump derangement syndrome, nor does covering up for pedophile contribute to “good order”. in other news, the catholic church didn’t cover up for pedophile priests out of altruism.

        • Casual Observer

          Good luck with your Quest, the world you seek probably does not exist this side of Judgment 🙂

    • RandomComment

      Trump isn’t going to go to war with Iran over the threat of being smeared by the liberal media. He would have been bombing them for months now already.

      But I believe there are people willing to start a war over what Epstein can reveal.

  • Casual Observer

    The RN really does not possess the wherewithal to ‘Protect’ British vessels going through Hormuz, which has led to the suggestion of some combined European effort. Highly ironic when one considers that European cooperation in the realm of defence was a part of the Brexit argument ?

    No doubt the UK could manage something with USN help, but the question has to be asked, does the USA wish to escalate things at this time? Simply put, this Hormuz/Iran business has been rattling along for years now, certainly long enough for the Iranians to have thought up ways of blocking the Straight to All traffic. No doubt some combined effort would clear the blockage, but there may be just as much certainty that it could be re imposed, so what one would be looking at is the interruption of say 30% of the worlds oil supply for weeks at a time. Just think what that would do at the pumps, and practically every other aspect of ‘Modern Life’ ?

    Full scale operations to clear the Straight would imply a state of all out war with Iran, and make no mistake such action would not be akin to the minor events we have seen since the late nineties, it would likely be a ‘Proper’ war against an opponent willing to fight with modern weaponry. Consequently there seems little chance of events going beyond the ‘Display’ stage simply because Iran holds all the best cards.

    All of which begs the question, why on earth did the UK seize the Grace 1 ? Probably another indication that the USA has dear old Blighty by the testicles following the UK’s failed attempts (with others) to tilt the table in favour of that awful Clinton woman. If Britain is indeed playing the role of supplicant to the USA, expect more illogical actions 🙂

    • Chris Leeds

      I hope it was seized because every available politician was addled by Brexit at the time, and there was no effective government in place to get between the spooks, the civil servants and the military and now they have to say they thought it was a bright idea. Otherwise it means they actually did think it a bright idea … 🙁

    • Jo

      It sounds as if Germany does quite believe the scenario as UK describes – note they turned down Trump request for troops “somewhere” in Syria….and how they wish to.deal with it but Denmark seems keen to join in the gung ho just like they are trying to stop nordstream 2…..who are the leaders in that country that seemed to have sold their souls?

    • Dungroanin

      Why on earth did the FO/MoD authorise the illegal capture of the Tanker?

      Rumour has it that the evermore deranged Pompeo and evermore distanced Bolton had a hand in it.

      The moonofalabama site amongst others have covered the geopolitical bs extensively.

      One thing that happened after the Iranian response was that a Iranian tanker was released after being held for months.

  • Walter Cairns

    The seizure of the Iranian tanker was definitely illegal, there is no EU ban on oil shipments to Syria, only a ban on air fuel (which in itself has no legal foundation).

    • Borncynical

      Walter

      The EU is a self-contained body. It has no legal jurisdiction over what any non-EU country can do. As I have explained above (at 18.14), the EU cannot legally impose sanctions on any goods exported by a non-EU country; sanctions can only be applied by imposing trade restrictions on EU Member States. So in the case of oil/Syria the sanctions prohibit EU Member States from importing, purchasing, transporting oil…..coming from Syria. The sanctions do not, and cannot, theoretically prohibit Syria from sending oil to the EU.

      Presumably no EU country exports oil to Syria, and that is why there is no legal prohibition in place on EU exports of oil to Syria. But if there had been such a market you can guarantee the sanctions would have included it. The seizure of the tanker was illegal quite simply because the EU has no jurisdiction over any bilateral business between two non-EU countries.

      In the case of jet fuel, the EU sanctions in place only apply to exports from EU Member States; they cannot prohibit a non-EU country from sending jet fuel to Syria.

      As @Goose states above, UN jurisdiction is a different matter. UN restrictions would have a much wider remit and should be adopted if worldwide sanctions are called for, well beyond the EU’s remit. (The US would do well to understand that it (i.e. the US) has no legal authority to tell other countries who they can and cannot trade with.)

      • Doc Holliday

        One could of course say the same thing about the United States.

        It used to be that it was argued in American politics that sanctions by the US alone were by definition ineffective. This was the rhetoric given in support by the Republican right-wingers in America for their support for the racist South African government during the Apartheid era. America was one of the last states to sanction South Africa, and it only happened when the argument from the Reagan/Bush/Cheney/Trump crowd became moot as almost all the rest of the world was by then sanctioning apartheid South African.

        What has changed since is the arrival of the bizarre notion that America has the right to enforce its laws upon the rest of the world. An arrogance that at least up until now had not fully infected Brussels.

        • Goose

          The nature of sanctions has changed too, they’re being weaponised and are increasingly deployed by the US as a first resort to achieve geopolitical objectives. The really pernicious part is the increasing use of secondary sanctions. Secondary sanctions should be seen as a threat to sovereignty by all countries subject to them. Many feel the US is overplaying its strong hand in world economic and financial affairs by alienating friends and foes alike and basically treating everyone as supplicants. And of course, Trump’s behaviour, has expedited a process already set in motion to counter this overbearing US behaviour by creating systems that aren’t reliant on the US’s permission or subject to US veto. What’s that saying, with great power comes great responsibility?

          • Jo

            I have no idea why world trade organisation appears to say nothing about this incident or illegal sanctions affecting trade…..surely it should have some kind of remit relevant???????

          • Piotr Berman

            “Many feel the US is overplaying its strong hand in world economic and financial affairs by alienating friends and foes alike and basically treating everyone as supplicants.” I did think like that, now I am impressed by the depth of masochistic tendency among the “US friends”. They passionately enjoy being humiliated.

        • Borncynical

          “An arrogance that at least up until now had not fully infected Brussels”.

          And, I think it is fair to say, has still not fully infected Brussels. It is very much the UK that has gone out on a limb to claim they had to seize the Iranian tanker in order to enforce Syrian sanctions. The rest of the EU have been very quiet on the matter. In fact I read recently that Carl Bildt, former Swedish PM, has stated that the seizure was not legal under the terms of EU sanctions.

  • Sharp Ears

    I am pleased that Craig has written this, bearing in mind his previous experience and his knowledge of maritime law.

    PS Where is the RT Hon Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt currently? No job from Boris.

    • Deepgreenpuddock

      I was struck by the numbers of voters in favour of Hunt and Johnson.It was very close to a 1/3-2/3 split.
      When I see this ratio I always remember a psychiatrist friend saying that her patients roughly divided the same way in terms of recovery.1/3 showed improvement. 2/3 remained ‘stuck’
      She related this to the ability of about 1/3 being able to think abstractly and develop ‘insight’ into their condition. 2/3 lacked the capacity for analytic and abstract thinking and were unable to ‘move on”. essentially they were stuck with magic thinking
      While I don’t want to endorse Jeremy Hunt, he at least struck me as having some attachment to reality, hence his selection by the sentient 1/3 of the Tory membership
      All the Tory magic thinkers of course voted for their magician hero , Doris Johnson

      • Casual Observer

        Can we attach any importance to the newish phenomenon of so called ‘Entryism’ to parties that signal a leadership ballot months in advance ?

    • Doc Holliday

      The big money in the oil market of course insists on being very well informed. If you are placing bets with gains or losses of tens of millions of dollars, you don’t get your information from watching CNN. Such investors would have former government employees either on the payroll or as consultants. These people would earn their money by having contacts into the current governments.

      Thus, the big investors would have factored in all sorts of items, like the fact that Trump can not afford a war right now. Trump’s proven record for being a big bluffer. The weird relationship of the UK trying to draw the EU into a war while at the same time constantly insulting the EU and demanding to get out and demanding their own terms in leaving. Thus, while reporters and writers might write scary stories to get clicks and ad-views about the approaching disaster, the people who really have tens of millions of dollars riding on being correct know a whole lot more.

      The same was true a month before concerning Venezuela. On the day of the fake coup, the price of oil did initially go up. But while CNN was still promoting the big fake news of the coup, the price of oil quickly peaked and returned to where it was as the people with real knowledge quickly figured out that the fake coup had no real support and was really just a big photo-op for gullible media.

  • Artie Lees

    I was thinking that this action was high handed before you clarified the rules of the sea, but that aside there is something odd about this story. When it comes to Iran the British position differs significantly from that of the USA. We know where the US are coming from but why would the British government buy into it especially with the likelihood of a tit for tat seizure being glaringly obvious.

    A silly question maybe, but could the request for the seizing the tanker have come through procedures or channels without any political oversight?

    • michael norton

      One must presume the British Empire took control of Gibraltar for one reason, to be able to control shipping through the Straits of Gibraltar.

      • Blissex

        «One must presume the British Empire took control of Gibraltar for one reason, to be able to control shipping through the Straits of Gibraltar.»

        Not quite: it was more to prevent others from closing the straits; the English Empire took control of all possible waystations between England and India, both on the Red Sea route (Gibraltar, Malta, Cyprus, Alexandria, Suez, Aden, Karachi) and the Cape route (Gibraltar, Guinea, St. Helena/Nigeria, Namibia, Cape, Kenya, Mauritius) mostly to prevent others from blocking that vital traffic.
        Eventually they also took control of the Middle East-Persian Gulf route (Gibraltar, Malta, Cryprus, Haifa, Kuwait, Oman, Karachi).

        Precisely because the communication lines between England and India were so thin, vulnerable and stretched, that even at its greatest power it was never England’s policy to restrict sea traffic.
        Eventually it turned out that squeezing India was not worth the enormous cost.

    • bevin

      It is difficult to believe that the seizure of the tanker was not carried out by the military/security establishment without reference to its political ‘masters.” As with the Skripal matter, or the Steele Dossier and related conspiracies, it is hard to believe that anyone with any political sense, or respect for public opinion could have approved the order.
      In the short term, behind a heavy media smokescreen, it is possible to get away with such behaviour. In the long term, and long before ‘we are all dead’, such schemes fall apart.
      There has been a long interregnum since May lost any credibility and the Establishment has become used to doing what it believes the US wants.

      • Doc Holliday

        At least in America, the interesting question has been for quite some time now whether or not “the military/security establishment” has any political masters. I’ve seen signs the answer is no going back to at least the Clinton regime. There have been several cases in the Trump regime that have brought this issue in to sharp relief.

        Reading Daniel Ellsberg’s book “The Doomsday Machine” makes me wonder if the issue of whether or not there is civilian control of the military doesn’t go back to General Eisenhower’s regime, at least. The Pentagon denied Gen. Eisenhower and his appointees any idea of what was in their Big Plan for General Nuclear War, and Gen. LeMay’s dismissal of the idea of following the orders of some kid like JFK is chilling to read.

    • Deb O'Nair

      “When it comes to Iran the British position differs significantly from that of the USA.”

      There is a world of difference between what is stated publicly and what is agreed secretly. Britain has a world class reputation for perfidy. The British public support of the Iran deal alongside the EU nations is likely a tactic to try and draw the EU into the US policy of isolating Iran, hence the British claim to be enforcing EU sanctions.

      • Goose

        That appears to be sadly true.

        The UK, publicly at least, still supports the JCPOA and de-escalation, but everything Hunt did and has left in train, with the provocative plans for a European naval force patrolling the Gulf to ‘protect shipping’, suggests the UK is fully on board with the US. Most people believe the tanker seizure by Iran was a one-off, a tit-for-tat move, therefore were we really seeking de-escalation we’d have released the Grace 1 and they’d have reciprocated by releasing the Stena Impero. That is the logical way out of this, but no, military presence in the Strait of Hormuz and Persian Gulf, with all the inherent risks(and opportunities for warmongering mischief) is going to be ramped up needlessly.

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Craig,

    I am not doubting your qualifications and experience. However, I do have some moral issues re “I was the Head of the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre and responsible for giving real time political and legal clearance, 24 hours a day, for naval boarding operations in the Gulf to enforce a UN mandated embargo.”

    Was this around the same time as Madeline Albright – “The Price is Worth It” ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbIX1CP9qr4

    Tony

  • Doc Holliday

    Interestingly, I would read Article 38, Part 1 as saying there is no Freedom of Navigation right through the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan is of course an island of China off the mainland of China and there would appear to be sufficient navigation on the seaward side of that island. As such, the USN would have no right to sail between the Chinese island and the Chinese mainland. The USA has, I believe under Nixon and Kissinger, has accepted the One China principle.

    • Michael McNulty

      I heard Taiwan was where China’s elite fled to after the rise of Mao and Chinese communism, so I think US support for Taiwan is more about sticking it to communism. Maybe the US has just realised Wall Street’s greed for profits by exploiting China’s low costs, while screwing over their own working class, might lead not to China becoming capitalist, but to western capitalism funding Chinese communist supremacy. If the US thinks it can regime-change China and reinstall its old ruling class those Yanks really have lost their collective mind.

  • Doc Holliday

    As far as I’m concerned, the masthead of The Guardian should read “All the News that Tony Blair says is fit to print.”

  • Ffrank

    Alan Boyle (Emeritus Professor of International Law, University of Edinburgh) made the same point in a letter to The Times:

    “International law prohibits any interference with foreign vessels in passage through straits. But the same rule applies equally to Iranian tankers in passage through the Straits of Gibraltar. Only the UN security council can authorise such an arrest at sea, not the EU. European sanctions on Syria are relevant only to vessels flagged in EU states. They do not entitle us to arrest foreign vessels of any other nationality.”

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/times-letters-nuclear-energy-climate-activists-and-the-law-zf7l3xx9x

  • Loony

    What British tanker has been seized in the Strait of Hormuz?

    Surely you cannot be referring to the Stena Imperio. That tanker is owned by Stena which is a privately held Swedish company. Even the mendacious and lying BBC only goers so far as to describe it as “a British linked tanker”

    The crew of the Stena Imperio is comprised of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationals. Presumably Stena chose this particular configuration of crew to fit in with Swedish multicultural objectives. Only a cynic would suggest that it had anything to do with the rates of pay that nationals of such nations would be willing to work for,

    No doubt the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is very interesting. It would be more interesting if you explained why British taxpayers should be on the hook for providing protection to rapacious Swedish capitalists intent on exploiting the wage gap between Sweden and India and the Philippines. Maybe the British working class cannon fodder would be interested in knowing why they should risk their lives in order to protect Swedish commercial interests and what exactly it is about Swedes that means that they should not be asked to risk their lives. The absence of any explanation plays ominously into the idea that the Swedes are some form of Ubermensch compared to the British Untermensch. And you wonder why people despise the EU and its establishment lackies.

    If this all goes tits up then I wonder how long it will take you to writes some polemical piece bemoaning British aggression.

    • craig Post author

      The nationality of a ship is the country of registration and therefore the flag it flies, Loony. The law of that country applies on board, outwith territorial waters of another state.

      The Stena Impero is British flagged and therefore both the standards of health and safety and seamanship qualifications, and the rates of pay the crew are entitled to – whatever their nationality – are amongst the highest in the world and subject to regular inspection. Stena are to be congratulated on this and on not using a Liberian or Panamanian flag to enable appalling conditions and pay.

      In other words Loony you are completely wrong in every single thing you wrote. As is frequently the case with you.

      • RandomComment

        British flagged and therefore both the standards of health and safety and seamanship qualifications, and the rates of pay the crew are entitled to – whatever their nationality – are amongst the highest in the world.

        At least The Empire ain’t all bad 😉

      • Loony

        Yeah, but I am not wrong though.

        I am familiar with all types of lies. It is technically true that that the nationality of a ship is the country of registration. That is why so many ships are technically Panamanian or Liberian. However it is true at every level that Stena is a Swedish company and this is an unarguable fact.

        So why would Stena voluntarily subject itself to “the highest standards in the world” when it could choose Panamanian or Liberian standards. The answer is likely to be found in the fact that Stena has every expectation that British servicemen will be obey orders to sacrifice their lives in defense of Swedish commercial interests whereas there is no such expectation that Panamanian or Liberian nationals will die defending Swedish commercial interests.

        Obviously you have a lot of words at your disposal and have been taught how to deploy those words. However when you strip out all of the linguistic gymnastics and the underlying mendacity all you are left with is a searing contempt for the poor and for those that may die in order to protect the rich and powerful of a foreign land.

        • Dredd

          I’m trying to make sense of your position, Loony – but it sure ain’t easy.

          > The crew of the Stena Imperio is comprised of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationals. Presumably Stena chose this particular configuration of crew to fit in with Swedish multicultural objectives.

          > The answer is likely to be found in the fact that Stena has every expectation that British servicemen will be obey orders to sacrifice their lives in defense of Swedish commercial interests whereas there is no such expectation that Panamanian or Liberian nationals will die defending Swedish commercial interests.

          So what kind of “nationals” are they (in your loony opinion)?

          • Loony

            It is very easy. Ask yourself:

            If this is a British ship then for what reason are the crew not British?

            Who decided that the crew be comprised of Russian, Latvian, Filipino and Indian nationals? Was this decided by a British national or a Swedish national.

            As the ship is “technically” British then in extremis it will be protected by the British military – in the first instance the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. Does the Royal Navy have an ultimate owner in Gothenberg? Is the crew of Royal Navy Warships comprised of Russian, Latvian, Filipino and Indian nationals? Do the Royal Marines swear allegiance to the Queen or do the swear allegiance to Swedish corporate interests?

            All you have to do is answer these questions for yourself and all will become clear.

            One final set of questions: Do British “liberals” constantly bemoan British imperialism and rage against the Iraq war? If they do then for what reason are they so sanguine regarding the deployment of British military power in defense of Swedish commercial interests.

            Do these same people bemoan public spending cuts and the poverty inflicted on the poor of the land. If they do then why are they so keen to see funding diverted from kidney machines into rockets and guns to protect Sweden.

            Do these same people have a near obsession with the NHS? If they do they why are they so keen to see an unknowable number of injured British servicemen returned to the care of the overburdened NHS with these servicemen having sacrificed their health at the alter of Swedish commercial interests..

            Are these same people obsessed by identity politics and racism. Is there any other plausible explanation that they consider Swedes as a form of master race and poor British people as the kind of people that need to be put in harms way as soon as possible? How does this ideology not make them the most disgusting degenerate racists imaginable?

        • Piotr Berman

          “Stena has every expectation that British servicemen will be obey orders to sacrifice their lives in defense of Swedish commercial interests” <— if true, it would prove that owners of Stena are not only Swedish, despicable, but also profoundly stupid. Show me the rivers of blood spilled on their behalf.

          Additionally, "providing protection to rapacious Swedish capitalists" would actually sound appealing to British government, alway keen to protect human rights, ESPECIALLY when it concerns rapacious capitalists. Alas, not to the point of spilling British blood. Sorry, the class solidarity is deep, but not THAT deep.

          OTOH, if the goal of Stena was to provide the highest standards for their ship and the crew, why did they refrained to use Swedish flag? To assure yet higher standards? Actually, at least once I took a ferry with a Swedish flag AND run by Stena.

        • Dungroanin

          Well Loony your question is answered. But you won’t accept it.

          Any idea what the nationalities of the crews of British flagged ships across the oceans are?

        • Merkin Scot

          lol ‘Obviously you have a lot of words at your disposal and have been taught how to deploy those words.’
          .
          Loony, I feel your pain.

      • LeeJ

        Sorry Craig. As a seafarer, I can assure you the crew wages will be far below UK rates of pay.

    • Casual Observer

      Careful, your in danger of revealing to the Horses that the idea of a British Merchant Navy has long since receded into the realm of mythology 🙂

  • Brendan

    It was Jeremy Hunt who tweeted about “Gibraltar’s LEGAL detention of oil bound for Syria”.

    Now that he’s gone, the new PM could send out the message that the Gibralter seizure had nothing to do with anyone in the current British Cabinet. That’s what Boris would do if he has any sense (OK, maybe that’s wishful thinking).

    He might not have any choice when the Trump administration has already distanced itself from the UK’s shipping problems. Mike Pompeo said last week that “the responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships.”

    It’s no coincidence that the Iranians offered a ship-swap deal on the day that Boris became PM. He might have to accept that in a way that doesn’t look too much like a victory for Teheran. That’s all the more likely when he doesn’t want to distracted from other more important issues closer to home.

    • Goose

      I was relieved when untrustworthy Hunt quit. But Dominic Raab fills many with dread too, he’s known as being very hot-tempered and clearly prone to impulsive moves as we saw when he brazenly stated he prorogue parliament to get Brexit through – the only candidate to do so.

      Reported Gibraltar updated its sanctions enforcement regulations 36 hours before Royal Marines impounded the GRACE 1. Really don’t understand what Gibraltar’s govt is playing at binding itself to to what could become very unpopular Tory decisions with an election looming. Especially as Labour could open discussions on joint sovereignty with Spain?

  • Tom

    If they had any wisdom of humility the Johnson regime would be quite nervous about the position they are in. Despite the usual propaganda from the mainstream media, it is fairly clear they are hated by large swathes of the the British populations, who were already disillusioned with May’s incompetence and having the CIA’s Brexit project forced on them.
    We are now at that point where I’d wager half the country wouldn’t support the British government in a conflict with Iran and wouldn’t tolerate the repercussions of any war either.

    • Goose

      His shine won’t last long.

      Did you see the Sun’s front page, oh my, Boris’ 55 year old face in a Teletubbies-style sun – the golden child?

      As Owen Jones pointed out , if the equivalent front page were produced in North Korea we’d laugh at the obsequious nature of it.

    • RandomComment

      One minute they’re setting up the EU, next minute they’re dismantling it. Crazy spooks.

      • Goose

        You can argue it both ways.

        Just look at the UK, where a former head of MI6 who is pro-Brexit, profoundly disagrees with current head about Brexit and the risks of no-deal. I doubt there is a settled position in the intel community on Brexit. Although there’s probably a majority against leaving with no-deal; as it’s create the need for new bilateral arrangements and complicate the sharing of information.

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        “One minute they’re setting up the EU, next minute they’re dismantling it. Crazy spooks.”
        Priorities change, one minute your an expanding empire setting up alliance systems to control territory, next minute your an empire in retreat with a scorched earth policy to deny trading oportunity to your rivals. That,s why ‘leave’ was allowed to win the referendum.

  • Shatnersrug

    Craig,

    Though I realise you’re not a Marxist, may I draw you attention to this excellent book

    The Great Class War, Jacques Pauwels

    There is a great review of it on counterpunch, here

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/12/world-war-i-crime-and-punishment/

    I quote from it here

    In 1887, Frederick Engels made a chilling prediction of the war that would come in 1914:

    The only war left for Prussia-Germany to wage will be a world war, a world war, moreover of an extent of violence hitherto unimagined. Eight to ten million soldiers will be at each other’s throats and in the process they will strip Europe barer than a swarm of locusts. The depredations of the Thirty Years’ War compressed into three to four years and extended over the entire continent; famine, disease, the universal lapse into barbarism.

    This prediction was not the result of second sight. It was a conclusion derived from the premise that “war is the daughter of capitalism,” first proposed by Engels with Marx in The Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848. “The bourgeoisie is always in a struggle . . . against the bourgeoisie of all foreign states,” they wrote, and this struggle is so bitter as to lead inevitably to an “industrial war of annihilation among nations.”

    And what better way to confront a people’s uprising and drastically reduce the population than sending the youth of the world off to kill each other.

    Suddenly articles like this fall into place as we see that our leaders fancy a jolly old war.

    https://metro.co.uk/2018/04/02/government-backing-plans-create-military-schools-help-poor-children-7434494/

    It is vital now more than ever that we publicly resist all forms of imposed militarism, the planet and our future literally depend on it. My prediction is within the next 15 years we’ll be looking at the most heinous war known to humanity

    • George

      “My prediction is within the next 15 years we’ll be looking at the most heinous war known to humanity”

      I doubt if “the most heinous war known to humanity” will leave anyone to look at it!

      • lysias

        I just got to a very frightening section in Kees van der Pijl’s book about MH17. Wesley Clark was arguing in 2014 for support for the coup government in Ukraine, as otherwise the position of the West would be much less favorable in the general war involving Russia and China that apparently people in power were regarding as inevitable, or at least highly likely. Sounds very much like the years before 1914.

    • PhilW

      “The bourgeoisie is always in a struggle . . . against the bourgeoisie of all foreign states,” they wrote, and this struggle is so bitter as to lead inevitably to an “industrial war of annihilation among nations.”

      May have been true in their day, but these days all capitalists use the US state as their muscle. They expect the governments of the countries of which they are notionally ‘nationals’ to line up behind the US to crush any resistance to unfettered capitalism, by rogue regimes such as Venezuela, Iran, or UK if Corbyn should become PM.

    • lysias

      As is argued in the book “Hidden History”, WWI happened primarily because of the plotting of a secret elite in Britain.

      • Johny Conspiranoid

        The plotting of a secret elite, or the secret plotting of a public elite? Neither are mutualy exclusive with a Marxist process of class strugle.

  • Doris Johnson

    https://consortiumnews.com/2019/07/25/pepe-escobar-us-and-iran-stuck-on-negotiation-ground-zero/

    Iran has observed what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. They have spent the last 20 years building up a formidable military capability. If the West was to attack Iran, Iran would respond by destroying the Saudi deep shipping ports which load the oil tankers. They would also destroy the Saudi oilfield infrastructure. Any US or UK navy vessels going anywhere near the straits of Hormuz would also get taken out. The American military bases surrounding Iran would also be targeted.

    If this was to happen it is just about possible that Iran could subsequently be defeated in a prolonged military campaign but that would be a lot more difficult than Afghanistan or Iraq and would have to take place against a global economic collapse of unprecedented proportions. This would be triggered by a sudden increase in the price of oil to well over $100 per barrel which would destroy the US economy.

    The derivatives market would implode and this would take down Deutsche Bank, Germany’s larges bank which would not be good for the EU, to put it mildly. Where would the UK be in all this? Totally screwed. In the turmoil nobody would give a shit about us apart from what they could grab from us.

    Faced with an existential threat like a US/UK attack, Iran has made it clear that they would not hold back in their response, after all why should they? They have all the oil and methane they would need and with the Western economies destroyed they could trade with China and their Asian neighbours. Thankfully there are Americans in the military who can see the situation for what it is and are advising Trump accordingly.

    • Loony

      Are you nuts?

      In 2008 oil went to $147/bbl – and the US remained the most powerful economy in the world. What precisely has happened in the last 12 years that means that oil at $100/bbl would destroy the US economy?

      If the Iranians were to attack Saudi oil infrastructure and US military bases then the US would nuke Iran. So great. Lots of people die and there is essentially no more Middle Eastern oil. What does the US care.The US is the worlds largest oil producer and Canada is the worlds 4th largest oil producer.

      This means that the European economy takes a huge hit and the US gets to pick up the pieces. No one cares about the UK – it is simply not relevant. Iran does what the US tells it to do. Any deviation and Iran gets wiped out – and possibly Saudi as collateral damage,

      A careful reading of this blog will reveal that the administrative classes hold the poor in total contempt. So kill a few million poor people and the US gets to win. It is not that hard to see the attraction.

      • Laguerre

        Overexcited people always like to believe the US is about to nuke some country. It’s not the case. Nuking some non-western country like that would change world politics fundamentally (apart from changing the global environment); even the US will hesitate, never mind what they say.

        • Deb O'Nair

          But not all nukes are the same. Trump pulled out the INF treaty so that the US could start deploying battlefield nukes around Russia and China in recognition of the difficulty conventional forces would have in the event of war. The “no first use” doctrine was abandoned by GW Bush years ago. There are videos on youtube which suggest some of these low yield weapons have already been used in Syria. Nuclear weapons technology has been under constant development and modern nukes are not all giant mushroom clouds and masses on radioactive fallout.

          • Tony

            It has always been US policy to strike first with nuclear weapons.

            Hiroshima and Nagasaki are proof of that.

            Some of the Democrats running for president have endorsed a ‘no first use’ policy.

    • Johny Conspiranoid

      Doris Johnson:
      That’s why the sabre rattling and ship siezures are just a psy-op. US is counting on its proxy army of terrorists to de-stabilise Central Asia and Iran. ISIS have been air lifted to a corner of Afghanistan and is infiltrating China, The ‘stans and Iran a la Syria.

      • Laguerre

        The US has been attempting to destabilise Iran for forty years in the way you suggest. They haven’t succeeded yet.

        • Blissex

          «The US has been attempting to destabilise Iran for forty years in the way you suggest. They haven’t succeeded yet.»

          Some nationalistic elements in the USA may be worried about the influence of Likud on the USA, and prefer to keep the iranians contained rather than defeated so that Likud be more dependent on USA support…

          • Blissex

            «prefer to keep the iranians contained rather than defeated so that Likud be more dependent on USA support…»

            The same applies to the Saudi princes, and to the gulf sheiks, etc.

  • Ben

    In any case sanctions, by definition, are an action by one agreeing entity against another. Agreement being the operative word. Sanctions are a peacetime action. They are meant to avoid war. Sanctions busting can by definition only occur from within the agreeing entity.

    That’s what I tweeted to Jeremy Hunt to try and explain it to him, but he ignored me!

    For Hunt to say that the Iranians, who weren’t party to any agreement, were breaking sanctions is a very Orwellian turnabout of vocabulary.

    But Hunt, the tree hiding stalker, is a very odd bloke. He may have been being wilful, or he may seriously be able to convince himself that he is right. He has after all talked about having conversations with himself before, when explaining how he was able to make an impartial decision when awarding permission to bid for a contract to his friend Rupert Murdoch.

    • BrianFujisan

      Cheers Craig ..Your expertize is Vital here..as tit for tat could lead to ..Well What ?

      Ben
      July 27, 2019 at 21:52

      ” Sanctions are a peacetime action. ”

      The way I see it.. Sanctions are long since war crimes.. caused Millions of Innocent dead..Mostly Children..Like we assist in the Yemen Genocide, and the Palestine Genocide.
      acts of war

      • Ben

        I don’t disagree, maybe I didn’t make the point very well. I was simply trying to differentiate what they are from what Jeremy Hunt, and apparently the BBC and MSM, thought they were.

        • BrianFujisan

          Ben ..Cheers for getting back ..

          “and apparently the BBC ”

          In Venezuela thousands are Dying.. Due to U.S sanctions

          Then there is the Syria Lies from BBC…Silence on Yemem…Why

    • RandomComment

      In any case sanctions, by definition, are an action by one agreeing entity against another.

      Wait….what?

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