Stratfor: $500/Bbl Oil If Iran Attacked?
May 10, 2012
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George Friedman, founder and head of the Austin, Texas-based geopolitical consultancy Stratfor, is a real optimist about America. As he argued in his 2011 book “The Next Decade: Where We’ve Been … and Where We’re Going,” he sees U.S. power undiminished by the financial crisis of 2008, and expects new waves of innovation from the world’s biggest economy.
When IndexUniverse.com Managing Editor Olivier Ludwig caught up with Friedman recently, Friedman stressed that the chance of any conflict with Iran is about nil, and, regarding the world of investments, said he still sees Poland as a very promising story. Moreover, he’s also bullish on Japan and on all the economies benefiting from rising labor and production costs in China.
Ludwig: You wrote a lot about Iran in your book “The Next Decade.” What’s your opinion on Iranian-Israeli nuclear situation?
Friedman: Iran is on the verge of shifting the balance of power in the Middle East. Syria is the key. If Assad survives, Iran’s influence is going to run from Western Afghanistan to the Mediterranean, where Hezbollah is.
The question of nuclear weapons is pretty trivial compared to that. The Iranians are pretty confident that, firstly, they don’t really intend to get nuclear weapons.
Ludwig: Do you really believe that?
Friedman: Yes. They do understand the fact that by having a program—as North Korea has done—they get a lot of leverage. But nothing is more dangerous than one nuke, because everyone will come in and get you. Iran is getting what it wants simply by having a nuclear program—which is making the United States and Israel obsessed with the nuclear program. And, under the radar, a new reality is being created in the region.
As for attacking the nuclear capability, the Israelis can't do that without the United States.
Ludwig: They literally cannot?
Friedman: I don’t think it can be done for a number of reasons. First, the Iranian response will plunge the world into depression—which is to say, they're going to block the Strait of Hormuz. Forty percent of the world’s exportable oil comes through there. The price of oil will spike astronomically.
Also, before any strike can take place against Iranian nuclear facilities, you’ve got to take out the Iranian navy. The Israelis have no ability to take out the Iranian navy. So if the Israelis attacked anyway, they'd be held responsible for a catastrophic economic situation.
Ludwig: Global depression?
Friedman: Well, what would $500 a barrel oil look like?
Ludwig: Let’s not even talk about that.
Friedman: Well, it would be something astronomical like that.
Ludwig: Part of me thinks that, if it’s going to happen, it would be a more propitious time for the Israelis to do something before the November election. What I mean is that should Obama be re-elected, he’d be more inclined to be tougher on the Israelis, no?
Friedman: No American president is going to take an attack on Iran lightly. It doesn’t matter who the president is. He’s looking at the oil supplies. They all remember 1973. This would be 1973 on steroids. So, strategically, you’ve got to be worried about this.