美国参谋长联席会议主席马丁•登普西将军1月8日在（哥伦比亚广播公司）《面对全国》（Face the Nation）的电视节目中，非常明确地表示，如果伊朗试图封锁霍尔木兹海峡，美国将积极采取行动。他说：“他们有能力将霍尔木兹海峡封锁一段时间，我们有能力确保，一旦发生这种情况，我们就能挫败这种企图。”
美国国防部长和美国联席参谋长会议主席上周末在（全国广播公司）《会见新闻界》（Meet the Press）节目中措辞强硬。无独有偶，美国外交关系协会（Council on Foreign Relations）的刊物《外交事务》（Foreign Affairs）也刊登了美国国防部前防务规划员马修•克罗尼格的文章《进攻伊朗的时机到了》（Time to Attack Iran）。他的结论简单来讲就是，除了进攻，美国别无选择，而时机就是现在。
Many of our key investment themes and macro asset allocations over the past couple of years have been related to the direction of the U.S. dollar. As it relates to commodities, the trend has been dollar up, commodities down. Recently that correlation has weakened with oil, as both Brent crude and the U.S. dollar have moved in the same direction.
Given the recent rhetoric from Iran related to the Strait of Hormuz, the strength in the price of oil is not totally surprising. In December, Iran threatened to shut the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions were imposed on its oil exports. Subsequent to that announcement, Iran held a series of naval maneuvers over a period of ten days, just east of the strait.
On Thursday, the latest gauntlet was thrown down over Iranian oil. After meetings with U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the Japanese indicated that they intend to reduce their imports of Iranian oil, which stand at roughly 10% of their total imports. Behind China at 20%, Japan is the second-largest importer of Iranian oil at approximately 17% of total Iranian exports. China, on the other hand, has been reluctant to cut its use of Iranian oil, though Premier Wen Jiabao is making his first trip to Saudi Arabia this weekend, which can be seen as an affront to Iran.
The strategic relevance of the Strait of Hormuz is that more than one-fifth of the world's oil is transported through it. As oil is transported out of the Persian Gulf it passes through the Strait of Hormuz, which is 34 miles wide at its narrowest, before crossing in the Arabian Sea. Every day, about 14 tankers carrying 15.5 million barrels of crude oil pass through the strait.
On Face the Nation this past Sunday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey was very specific in stating that the U.S. was prepared to act aggressively should Iran attempt to block the strait. "They've invested in capabilities that could, in fact, for a period of time block the Strait of Hormuz," he said. "We've invested in capabilities that ensure if that happens, we can defeat that."
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta echoed these comments and also indicated that efforts by Iran to build a nuclear weapon would also constitute a "red line," which implies potential the need for U.S. retaliation.
On the subject of nuclear weapons, according to the Iranian newspaper Kayhan, Iran has started to enrich uranium at its Fordo production facility. The Fordo plant is built into the side of a mountain near Qom, a Muslim holy city, which is located just south of Tehran. (Ironically, the Fordo location is also believed to be the site of the largest number of fatalities in the Iran-Iraq war.) This site was disclosed in 2009 and has been at the epicenter of the debate over whether Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons, or merely using this enrichment for energy purposes.
Coincident with the strong language voice this weekend on "Meet the Press" by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Council on Foreign Relations publication, Foreign Affairs, featured an article by former Pentagon defense planner Matthew Kroenig titled, "Time to Attack Iran." His conclusion is simply that the U.S. has little choice but to attack, and the time to do so is now.