25 June 2009

A Modest Proposal for Bringing About a More Democratic Persia

Persia is in crisis, the mullahs in charge are fighting amongst themselves and it appears that Khamenei is in open warfare with others in the Assembly of Experts. Khamenei's unleashed his personal thugs, even importing foreign thugs to prevent the people from demonstrating their disgust at the coup Khamenei engineered to prop up his pet madman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The United States is in a unique position amongst world powers to effect the situation. There was a little Declaration of Paris a few years back (153 years back, to be precise), but the United States never signed that treaty, so we alone amongst major powers reserve the right to issue Letters of Marque and engage privateers on behalf of our nation. Given President Obama's international outlook, I believe he should combine that international inclination with some (very) old fashioned capitalism.

Last year, due to limited refining capacity, Iran floated over 30,000,000 barrels of crude on VLCCs (very large crude carriers) in the Persian Gulf. If they are still doing that practice (haven't seen any more recent articles on the subject), that means potentially (at $70/barrel) $2,100,000,000 worth of crude idling in the gulf. The Congress should use their power, as enumerated in the Constitution to issue letters of marque for privateers willing to commandeer that crude and take it to friendly refiners (say in Qatar or Bahrain), giving the privateers a small percentage (say only 2%, which would still add up to $42,000,000) of the take, and keeping the rest of the proceeds from the refining to be held in trust for the people of Persia. Promise to turn over these proceeds the moment a fairly elected government is granted control (irrespective if that is a pro-western government).

Denying Khamenei and his thugs billions of dollars in oil profits, while also using the crude that's already floating in the gulf to stabilize the oil market during this current turmoil would help the rest of the globe tremendously. This would also deny Khamenei one of his primary political and diplomatic weapons. Europe would denounce us publicly, while cheering us privately. The people of Persia would know without any doubt that the United States Congress is on their side. The Somali pirates have shown us how vulnerable these huge ships are (given their miniscule crews), there are plenty of security companies that could put together task forces that could easily takeover all the oil Iran is floating in the gulf.

The Congress needs to lead on this issue, rather than reprimanding Pres. Obama for not taking the initiative, Congress must use the powers explicitly left to them in our Constitution and help the Persian people remove their current dictatorship.

1 comment:

Jason (the commenter) said...

But some tankers would end up sinking (Iran would make sure of that) and America would get the blame for the environmental devastation.

Also, Iran could start attacking other ships, or the pirates could start attacking other ships and world oil prices would skyrocket.

Not a policy I'd want to be responsible for implementing.

To be fair, I did think that instead of invading Iraq we should have just bombed its oil wells and not stop until their military took care of Saddam for us. So I can be reckless, too.