The Effect of U.S. Energy Self-Sufficiency on Its Commitment to Secure Shipping Lanes in the Strait of Hormuz
27 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2013
Date Written: May 1, 2013
Deemed as the “world’s most important chokepoint” for oil and international shipping, the Strait of Hormuz is the main thoroughfare to and from the Arabian/Persian Gulf. A disruption in shipping through the Strait of Hormuz would have severe consequences for the world economy. Without securing by American forces, oil tankers could be threatened by Iran or non-state actors such as pirates. This paper outlines three potential scenarios for U.S. engagement in Hormuz. In the first scenario, “Maintaining the Status Quo,” the U.S. sustains a large, unilateral force in the Arabian Gulf. In the second scenario, “Strategic Partnerships,” the U.S. reduces its overall footprint but ensures security through a close partnership with GCC countries. In the third scenario, “Limited Engagement,” the U.S. withdraws from the Gulf and cedes leadership roles to a rising China. Based on our analysis, there are two main policy implications. First, U.S. policymakers should emphasize the importance of shipping lanes in the Arabian Gulf and their continued relevance to U.S. interests. Second, GCC states and U.S. policymakers should realize the importance of forging stronger defense partnerships. Not only do their interests converge, but a partnership could allow U.S. to maintain security with a reduced budget.
Keywords: U.S. energy policy, Energy security, geopolitics, Strait of hormuz, Gulf cooperation council states
JEL Classification: N70, Q40, Q49
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation