Over the past few weeks, the parts of the world still dependent on fossil fuels—which is to say, all of them—have anxiously watched tensions rise in the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel between the oil-rich Persian Gulf and the deep-water shipping channels of the Indian Ocean.
Television broadcasts show images of U.S. naval vessels escorting oil tankers through the strait, ensuring that oil and gas reach their markets. And on the one hand, this is entirely appropriate and encouraging: The purpose of a navy, after all, is to safeguard the movement of friendly armies and commerce—and to deny one’s enemies the ability to do the same.
On the other hand, the fact that U.S. naval vessels are escorting commercial ships in and out of the Persian Gulf is also an indictment of a U.S. policy initiative that has spanned at least six U.S. presidential administrations and has, until very recently, garnered bipartisan support in Congress: Our efforts to build military capacity among our partners in the Gulf.
The current crisis in the region offers an opportunity to assess not only the scale and efficacy of our efforts but also how we might tailor them to fit our strategic needs as much as those of our partners. Because it is not clear to me that what we’ve been doing over the past three decades has served U.S. interests. (end of excerpt)
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