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Monday, June 13, 2005

Excellent Read: Grim on Patrolling the Malacca Strait

Over at The Fourth Rail, milblogger Grim has joined up with an excellent post Sometimes "Cowboy Diplomacy" Means Learning A Little Lakota on the diplomacy required in working Malacca Strait security issues.

I do not agree that even a complete closure of the Malacca Strait means a complete cut-off of oil to Japan, China, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan (as I have noted before), though the alternative routes do add distance and time to the problem. See here and here. The Strait of Sunda and Lombok Strait are two possible alternatives to the Strait of Malacca. (I also question whether it is possible to completely close the Strait of Malacca through a terrorist act as noted here)

Further, due to a shortage of tanker hulls, such time delays could cause some temporary shortages to economies depending on "just in time" arrival of crude oil to keep humming.

On the other hand, having Malaysia join in a loose coalition to help secure the Strait is a great sign that it is joining the nations participating in the global economy. And if the US is being as understanding as Grim indicates, so much the better.

(hat tip: Winds of Change)

Update: Ships sink in the Malacca Strait frequently. See here and here.

Sea lanes:

from Straits, Passages and Chokepoints: A Maritime Petroleum Distribution by Jean-Paul Rodrigue Rodrigue. Similar charts exist for other raw materials, such as metals.

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