The outrage we are witnessing on television and over the airwaves is an abomination to all fair minded people. To see the street beatings of innocents, the shooting of demonstrators, the silent march of millions has exposed the emptiness and extremism of the governing mullahs. How it will evolve is yet to be determined while the world watches and absorbs the tweets and blogs evidencing the use of brute power against the demonstrators.
There is no doubt that the current Iranian government holds two trump cards. The first is guns, and a trained and disciplined coterie of government enforcers to turn on the dissidents. The second of course is the huge cash flow coming from the sales of oil. As Tom Friedman pointed out in today's New York Times Op-ed "Bullets and Barrels", the mullahs have been using their oil income to "buy off huge swaths of the population with... subsidized food and gasoline. It's also used its crude to erect a vast military force-namely the Revolutionary Guard and the Basij militia-to keep itself in power".
Well there is something that could be done immediately to show the world's solidarity with the courage of the demonstrators and to show its disgust with the behavior of the Iranian Government. We, the world, can stop buying Iranian oil. Though the United States does not currently import Iranian crude, the fungiblity of oil is such that our government espousing such a boycott would carry a meaningful impact.
The cutoff of Iranian oil shipments through a buyer's boycott is entirely feasible in the structure of today's oil market. Inventories throughout the world are filled to overflowing, supertankers are loaded with 100's of millions barrels oil, lying at anchor at sea waiting for customers or storage on shore.
Most tellingly is the production capability from other sources. Saudi Arabia alone has 4.5 million barrels daily crude production and shipping capability shut in and readily accessible. These 4.5 million/bbl daily production now sitting idle is more than twice the level of Iran's daily exports of some 2.1 million barrels/day.
Without the income from oil, Iran's dictatorship will be increasingly vulnerable. It is long past time that the world draws the line on the political and ethical perversion imposed by those who control the supply of oil. It would be a significant step in breaking oil's grip on our future and an enormous gesture of support to Iran's brave people.
Let the boycott begin as the world's answer to the murder of "Neda".