The Instigator
Pro (for)
15 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
1 Points

America and the Straights of Hormuz: Interference

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/31/2011 Category: News
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,218 times Debate No: 20144
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (22)
Votes (3)




RyouofFunce brought this debate topic up in a forum so I intend to hold him to his challenge.

I will be arguing for Pro taking the stance that the United States has justification for wanting to interfere with an Iranian threat to close the Straights of Hormuz to international sea traffic.

First Round is for acceptance and defining what ever you wish to define.


I accept!
I will be argueing the United States does not have the right to interfere millitarirly with the Iranians threat of closing off the straight.
To you Pro.
Debate Round No. 1


This should be an interesting debate.

P1 - International Law

- United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

The straights of Hormuz lies between Oman and Iran and connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea and is considered a world "choke point". At its narrowest the Straights of Hormuz are 34 miles across. [1] Iranian waters stretch for 12 nautical miles or 13 standard miles into the Straights based on the guidelines set up by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea [2] so even at its narrowest point with Oman on the other side there is still 8 miles in between that count as international waters that Iran is not allowed to close due to international law. This aside even if they ignored that stretch of 8 miles at the narrowest point they are still not allowed to block trade through Oman waters without their consent putting Iran's threat to close the Straights in violation of United Nations international law.

B) - Transit Passage

Transit passage is a concept in Law of the Sea which allows for a vessel and aircraft in accordance with United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Part III) of the freedom of navigation and overflight solely for the purpose of continuous and expeditious transit of the strait between one part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and another part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone [3]

What this states is that any vessels in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea are allowed freedom of passage and navigation of straights if the sole purpose of transit is peaceful and will only take the vessel from one body of water to the next. Since the Straights of Hormuz falls into this category of "straight between one part of the high seas" then the government or military of Iran is not allowed to deny ships passage through the Straights.

Both Iran and Oman signed this agreement thereby binding them to following their laws and regulations. [4]

C) - Right to Intervene: UN

As a member of the UN security council the United States has every right to intervene on the behalf of the 162 countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The United States would have every right with international law behind them and the UN behind them to interfere militarily in order to protect the free transit of peaceful vessels traversing the Straights of Hormuz and upholding the principles of free trade and freedom of the seas both of which are tenants of both the United States and the United Nations.

P2 - Economic Interests

About 14 tankers carrying 15.5 million barrels (2,460,000 m3) of crude oil pass through the strait on an average day, making it one of the world's most strategically important choke points. This represents 35% of the world's seaborne oil shipments, and 20 percent of oil traded worldwide in 2011.[1]

This being one of the world's most strategic waterways the United States, on the behalf of free trade and personal economic interest could not let a hostile nation close the straights to trade.

The United States is also the world's number one oil consumer in the world meaning that they have a very important stake in the flow of oil through the Straights of Hormuz. [5] The United States has a right to protect its foreign and economic interests when threatened by a hostile nation, especially when it involves the harassment of peaceful ships and the blockade of international waters.


International law overwhelmingly says that Iran has no right to close the Straights of Hormuz because they encompass international waters and the waters of a foreign nation. Even if the waterway was owned entirely by Iran, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea says that the closing of a straight to peaceful vessels is unlawful and is in violation of treaties and agreements signed by 162 nations.

Based on these laws, and the economic stake that the United States has in supporting free trade and it's consumption of oil the United States has more than enough justification for intervening in an Iranian closing of the Straights of Hormuz.



Good argument pro! I agree 100 percently with my opponent's definition of the straight. It is a very important trade route and Iran has no rights to close off the parts of the straight that it does not have ownership rights to. We agree, I believe, that they have full rights to close off their part of the straight, and it is their threat to close off the entire straight, that the United State is most angered and fearful about, as it can be seen as a lifeline to the US economy. Point A) and point B) are valid definitions and basic knowledge about the conflict in debate, and I will not spend time on them.

However when looking at every issue we must take a look at both sides of the argument. Quote Atticus Finch "You must walk a mile in someone else's shoes before you can pass judgment about them."

A brief history of why Iran had bad relations with the US.

In 1979 the US had extremely good relations with Iran, which had been ruled by a gruesome dictator/monarch known as Shah Mohammad. His people and his country hated him. After a civil war the Shah was defeated and exiled from Iran. Because when he was king the US had friendly relations with him, Shah Mohammad fled to the United States, where he received treatment for his developing cancer, US support, and protection from the rebels, who demanded he be sent back to Iran and brought to justice. As a result of this the new Iranian government, (the one that replaced the Shah) started off in the very beginning with a bad note against the US. Then, the 1980s, the dreadful and gruesome Iraq Iranian war begun. A surprise attack from Iraq in the early 1980s pushed deep into Iran in a case similar to the 1990s Iraq invasion of Kuwait, only in a grander scale. Back then, believe it or not, the US had extremely strong ties with Iraq under Sadame Hussein. They also, (as I mentioned before) had a bad note against the new Iran government. As a result the US strongly support Iraq during the war, and the small bad note between Iran and the US from the 1979 ousting of Shah Mohammad now changed into a grievous hate as the US supported Iraq with massively effective weapons that cut down wave after waves of Iranian soldiers. Furthermore, the US, under the pretense of "escorting neutral Oil tankers" sent its nay directly into the Strait of Hormuz, even violating Iranian rights by sending its navy into waters agreed to be owned by Iran. Thus the tables, as you can see, have turned. The US have violated the rights of the Iranians by directly transpassing Iranian border. Things didn't just cool down here. In 1978, when the Iraqis were finally pushed back out of Iran and peace talks were held, a Iranian passenger airline, carrying 290 innocent civilian passengers was grievously shot down by the United State Navy, who claimed their radar detected it as an Iranian fighter. After investigations were held and the United Nation confirmed it was an innocent passenger airplane instead of a jet fighter, the US "showed regret at the loss of life, but did not apologize nor payed compensation to those family that lost loved ones." As a result of all this, relation between the Iranian state and the US have, ever since the nation was formed, been strained.

Now, what is Iran's purpose at closing off the straight? On the surface, (as the title presents) Iran is a lunatic state that threatens the US for no reason what so ever just for pure terrorist purposes, as the media and the government has lead us to believe. Closer examinations of the conflict reveals more sympathy for Iran, however. The United States had called for a sanction against Iran's oil in 1980s, which grew tighter and tighter as US's allies agreed to support the sanction under diplomatic pressure from the US. In addition they also called for a worldwide ban against selling Iran airplane parts, (claiming Iran was using those parts to build jet fighters) which caused Iran's passenger airline to rely on an increasing unsafe air fleet, and an investigation shown the aircraft part sanction against Iran caused at least 17 airplane crashes since the sanction began, and caused an estimated 1500 innocent people to die. (what do you expect they are forced to rely, even today, on airplanes made in the 1950s.) As a result, this oil sanction and aircraft sanction caused both civilian death and other consequences. Now remember, oil is one of the Iranian Government's only way of profit. Because of that Sanction Iran's government's revenue is now down by a huge amount. Now, let us not forget Iran is a third world country. Its people were surviving off Government support in the forms of food and money. When the US called for all its allies to sanction Iranian Oil, those poverty stricken people in Iran could no longer get government aid. People were starving to death, which only gave more grounds for the US to call for an international attack against Iran, allegedly to "free the people" from their sufferings. If the US would leave Iran alone, they would not have any of those troubles.

Now, how does this relate to the Strait of Hormuz? As the Iranian passenger air fleet grew more and more obsolete and unsafe, and the government was pushed deeper and deeper into debt trying to support the many poor families in Iran, the government grew more and more desperate. Its people were starving to death! For all the 25 years since the Sanction began Iran had been diplomatically trying to resolve the Issue. They've offered money, discounted oil, support in the UN, anything to stop the destructive US sanction, all to no avail. The US was firm in its demands that the Iranian Government, (appointed by revolutionaries who overthrew the Corrupt Shah Mohammad) to step down and allow the Shah's relatives, or at least a puppet government (obedient to the US) to form the New Iranian Government. In recent years the Sanction problem had gotten even more pressing. Finally the Iran Government realized they must either fight back against this sanction, or fall away into collapse and see anarchy take over in Iran. An effective way, and perhaps the only way the Iranians would have at least some ground in diplomacy with the US would be to shut down the strait of Hormuz. What's better than fighting back, and letting the United State Government taste a bit of their own medicine? To ruin the US economy when more than ten percent of the US population relies on government food stamps would surely let the Americans see just how gruesome and unfair their sanction had become! And that is exactly what the Iranians did. Now that you look at things from the Iranian point of view, look at WHY the Iranians did what they did, don't you feel at least some sympathy for the Iranians?

Now, of course I am not defending the Iranian's rights to close of the straight. They have no right to close off international waters, but now perhaps after the United States have seen what it had done to Iran affected on its own country; they will be more sympathetic at the tables of diplomacy?

Now, back to the topic. The key words here is "should the US be allowed to militarily intervene with Iran's threat to close off the straight." Had it changed to "should the US be allowed to diplomatically resolve Iran's threat" or "should the UN be allowed to militarily intervene with the Iranian Threat" there would be no conflict here. I agree with any good American that they should. However unfortunately the wordings are "should the US be allowed to MILLITARILY intervene" and thus I have to debate this issue. I hope I have changed your views on the issue by presenting a story from the Iranian perspective. For round three I will deliver the main points of my argument, why the US should not militarily intervene. (I am out of characters) A happy new year to you all.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to point out that Con did not refute any of my arguments but instead decided to give us a gushy history of Iran-US relations.

I am aware that the threat to close the straights came about by a recent threat to impose tougher oil sanctions on Iran. I understand that Iran has had a tough half century.

My points still stand as thus:

Closing the Straights of Hormuz violates international law regulated and imposed by the UN.

The United States is a leading member of the UN and is seated on the Security Council.

Therefore when international law is threatenedthe United States has justification to intervene militarily in order to uphold UN law based on the status as a signer of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its seat on the Security Council, among other things previously mentioned.


These points still stand since they have not been effectively refuted by my opponent. This debate was never about whether or not military intervention was the best course of action or the most logical course of action etc but instead the debate was about whether or not the United States has justification to intervene militarily in an Iranian threat to close the Straights of Hormuz which I have clearly showed that they do.

Your points therefore are irrelevent in relation to the topic at hand.

I hope you can reorganize and refute my topics more thoroughly this round instead of trying to sway my opinion of Iranian relations with the United States for that is a different debate entirely.


I urge my opponent to have patience, as I have said already it was New Year thus I'm busy and I was out of characters to illustrate my main points.

I Hope the voters (and my opponent) have read and appreciated the crisis from Iran's point of view and now see some justifications for Iranian actions. With the battlefield a little more level, I will proceed. My opponent's points are not actually arguments, but instead restating of facts previously established. I agree, (as I have agreed before) with most of his arguments, and plead him not the state them again, as they are merely definitions and UN laws. There is one argument of his I wish to refute, and that leads me to my next point.

C)1 Diplomacy first

My opponent mentioned "when international law is threatened the United States has justification to intervene militarily" I am compelled to ask him, where in any United Nation doctrine has he found that if an international law is threatened, a country, any country, can react militarily to the conflict? Let me take this and put this on the US. There is an international law, signed by all members of the UN, that there will be no espionage in the United Nations. That means when one country wants privacy to discuss its policies, the rest of the UN allows him to do so. In 2003, the day before the start of the Iraq war, however, a US spyware was found in the private rooms of the secretary general of the United Nation, the respected Kofi Annan. The US had put that device there to spy on Kofi's reactions to the US invasion of Iraq. Now, the US violated an international law did they not? (I take care to remind my opponent that the Iranians have not even violated any international law, merely threatened to do it out of desperation.) If, as my opponent has stated, "when international law is threatened, (countries) has justification to intervene militarily" then the world would have taken up arms against the US and invaded it. Well, why didn't they? First of all, there is no rule that "when international law is threatened, (a country) has justifications to intervene militarily. Second of all there is a phrase called "does the punishment fit the crime." Even if one country threatens something (not even a faction, simply commerce) doesn't mean another country have right react militarily. Military intervention only leads to build up of conflict.

Diplomacy is the laws of modern society. I find my opponent to be suggesting the United State to simply attack and invade the Iranians just because of this threat very similar to the tactics of the ancient Spartans, who would bash down all who opposes them at the slightest of insults or threat. A good peaceful talk/debate held in the UN is much superior to seeing the fruit of one's country cut down. Wars ruin the economy, they take up time, they are a step backwards from world unity, they cause lives and they only lead to more conflict. The most logical course to follow for this conflict, is for a team of all the country's who's interest is threatened by the Hormuz Crisis to meet the Iranians in a peaceful talk. We must remember that the Iranians are a country with their own government. They are not some drunken madman/terrorist who strikes at random with no goal or reason in mind. (as the media have often lead us to believe.) The Iranians have their distinct reasons, which I mentioned in round 2. They are not threatening to close the strait simply see the world fall down in ruins, but to relieve the US's destructive sanction against their own country. Thus, I believe diplomacy would not only lead to mutual benefit and resolving of the conflict, but is also a good first step toward the healing of the accidental wound inflicted between the US and the Iranians in1979, a step to world unity and world peace. Where, with war, even if the Tehran Government is brought down, the Iranians will not only have the United State more. The 1979 tragedy will only spiral more and more out of control.

I believe I have illustrated my point quite well. In any circumstance, diplomacy is superior to the horrors of war.
Now, however, diplomacy comes with its problems. War is direct and ends in a desired result. Diplomacy is less predictable and can often fail and fall apart. What then?

C2) a better alternative to the US

Let's say that either the US refused to loosen their sanction against Iran (they actually did, in real life. The US, after diplomacy with the Iranians, agreed to gradually withdraw their sanction and as a result the Iranians backed off in their threat. Even in real life my argument is justified.) Or the Iranians just wanted to destroy world commerce. What then? I agree that, when diplomacy fails, a military intervention might be the only alternative left. However by no means should it be executed by the US, for a variety of reasons.

Sub C2 The US is incapable of the said intervention.

With its economy in shreds, much of its forces tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan, and almost NO support from the home front, the US is not in a very good position to wage war on Iran at the moment. DO anyone here think the US is capable of another 8 years war in Iran, when support for the war is already extremely low before it even started? Furthermore, sources have shown that the US military is not very effective. For example, during the 1990 US invasion of Panama, the ratio of civilians killed to ratio of panama soldiers killed is a startling 4 to 1. That means for every panama soldier the United States killed they killed 4 innocent panama people with him. That is outrageous! (I do not have numbers for the Iraq war or Afghanistan war, but they are likely even higher) Now, if we take the 4 to 1 ratio and put it onto Iran, we can estimate just how much civilians will be killed if the US invade Iran. The Iranians have a military with a grand total of 815,000 personals. If we apply the same 4:1 ratios of civilians to soldiers killed, we can see just how destructive a war on Iran would be to civilian life.

SO why not the UN?

Indeed, why not the UN? The UN is there to resolve international conflicts like there. Why should the US have the right to intervene in Iran? It is but a country, and only commercially threatened by Iran. Meanwhile the recent invasion of Iraq had given the US a bad reputation. Many foreign conflicts believe the US invasion of Iraq was purely for the United States' own gains, (as the UN has specifically condemned any military action against Iraq.) Should the US do the same to Iran, those claims would only be further supported. Should the US desire to participate in a military intervention for world commerce they will have to switch to the banners of the UN and fight for the rest of the world, instead of the US alone.

Conclusion. As I have mentioned before, the Iranians have their justifications to threaten to close the strait. (Especially since the US has violated Iranian Waters in the Iraq Iran War) On the other hand, a diplomatic intervention by the US is justifiable, a military intervention by the UN is justifiable, but my opponent's "a military intervention by the US" is neither justifiable nor acceptable (as the progress of the Hormuz conflict has shown.) Thus unless he is able to refute my arguments successfully I urge a vote for con.

On a side note I found my opponent comical in his disregard other UN in the forums (quote of him) "And the UN is a joke, they can't get anyone to listen to them because they have no military power. Arms speak which is why we use them." I remind him that the UN does not have military because it is an advocater of world peace. I also find it Ironic my opponent stress the importance of UN laws but not the UN itself.

To you with the last round pro.
Debate Round No. 3


I will be arguing the United States does not have the right to interfere militarily with the Iranians threat of closing off the straight. - RyouofFunce

Just to remind my audience of the argument at hand.


C1) Diplomacy First

Your argument pertaining to the US alleged bugging of UN offices does not fit the circumstances at hand. What the Iranians are proposing is to close off a major international waterway which is far more serious than the bugging of an office within the United State's own territory (New York City).

Your argument is akin to this statement: "If the cops don't arrest J-walkers why should they arrest murderers?"

Closing a straight where 35% of the worlds oil goes through is a much more serious offence than simple espionage.

Once I again I would like to try to reel this argument back on track since you are in a desperate attempt to derail the argument at hand. You said the United States has no justification to react militarily, when I have obviously proven that they do.

Once again, other argument about which course is better for the US etc is not on the table. The First Round of the debate did not see me saying "US military intervention is the best course of action in the case of the Straights of Hormuz." No, wrong. I said they have justification for doing so if they decided to act this way. Which I have proven they do.

I beg the reader to please remember the original course of this debate.


Your statement that says the United States is incapable with war in Iran is ludicrous. The United States Navy's Fifth Fleet is posted in Bahrain for such an incident.

The usual force of 20-plus ships, with about 1,000 people ashore and 15,000 afloat, consists of a Carrier Battle Group, Amphibious Ready Group, combat aircraft, and other support units and ships. Fifth Fleet exemplifies the Department of the Navy's strategic concept "Forward... From the sea," by providing the ability to respond immediately to any emerging crisis from peace-keeping and humanitarian missions to asserting necessary force in regional conflicts. [1]

The protection and keeping of an internationally used waterway constitutes as a peace-keeping mission in which we would take the necessary action to maintain the peaceful flow of ocean going traffic. No one has proposed a full scale war with Iran but "intervention" militarily to prevent the closing of the straight. This could be anything from firing scare shots across their bows, to merely sitting our fleet within the straight. Nowhere have I offered a full scale war with Iran, I merely said that we have the justification for intervening militarily. Which we do. Especially since you say they have justification for closing the straights, I say we have justification for keeping them open.


I am disappointed that my opponent has taken this debate so far off track.


" the Iranians have their justifications to threaten to close the strait." - if the Iranians have justification for closing the straight you'd better believe that we have the justification to intervene and keep it open.

* Iran has sanctions put on it for a reason.

* Military intervention does not mean total war with Iran, it could be a police threat, military presence or a few shots fired in warning.

* International Law is on the side of the United States. The justification is there for the US to keep those straights open!

Look back up to Round 1 and do not be fooled by my opponents ramblings.

Once again he managed to avoid refuting any of my points concretely or directly.

Thank you.



I start off the last round of this debate on the sad note that my opponent had accused me of going off topic and of "rambling" as a last argument in an attempt to win. However, as I have reminded him, there is no difference between "justification of the United States to intervene militarily" and "whether intervening militarily is the best course of action" I remind voters that in serious subjects like warfare and international politics not following the best course of action is not justifiable. And since my opponent had agreed with my point that diplomacy is justifiable as opposed to military intervention (by not rebutting it) he failed to justify a military intervention is acceptable. I remind voters that when chances of peacefully resolving a conflict stand, war is not justifiable.

Now, to refute my opponent's argument. My opponent argued different form of breaking UN laws deserves different punishment. I agree with this, as I have mentioned the punishment must fit the crime. However this only illustrates my point more in that the crisis should not be resolved militarily but by diplomacy. A simple threat to shut off commercial export should at least be given a chance of being peacefully resolved before another war, and thousand more innocent lives, are lost. The Iran breach of UN law is simply not serious enough to demand immediate military retribution. Even direct wars and invasions have been given a chance of diplomacy before military intervention. An Iranian threat to close a trade route should deserve much much more. Thus again I have proven a military intervention is not justifiable.

My opponent has simplified my argument that US is incapable of war too much. First he assumes a full scale war is not necessary, but that instead the Hormuz Strait should be cleared of Iranian forces. I ask him how will Iranian forces be cleared out of the area without declaring war. And once war has been declared they always spiral out of control. Look at the Russians in modern Warfare three. They were pushed out of the US but instead of peace talks they attacked Europe! :D!

Anyways back on topic, my opponent assumed (incorrectly) that I meant the US does not have the necessary military forces. Wrong. I have illustrated repeatedly in round 3 that US have the brute force but not the logistics. They do not have the money nor the support on the home front nor the international community to wage a war. Instead should diplomacy fail and a military intervention be necessary, the UN should be allowed to handle the situation.


My main points still stand without being rebutted. The Iranians have lost many innocent lives to US sanctions off an accident. Driven by a crisis on their own hands they grew desperate and made the threat of blocking the strait to save Iranian lives. (see round 2.) The US has justifications for a diplomatic intervention, the UN have justifications for a military intervention, but the US does not have justifications for a military intervention. My opponent, meanwhile, have agreed with my argument that diplomacy is more justifiable to a military intervention. In matters as serious as a world crisis following the less superior course of action is not justifiable, my opponent's primary mission of justifying a military intervention fails. Thus I urge a vote for con. Happy new year all and to the Iranians, who's conflict was indeed resolved diplomatically on December 30, proving my point that military intervention is not justifiable when chances of diplomacy still stands.
Debate Round No. 4
22 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by TheGreatFatsby 6 years ago
How can this be a debate? The winner is obviously going to be decided by the nationalistic motives of Americans. I am very sad that RyouofFunce, who clearly had the better argument, will lose.
Posted by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
Hmmm alright then.
Posted by RyouofFunce 6 years ago
please understand I am not mocking it. None of the other party seem very inviting and since I love history and know what adventure those colonists had that night I decided to list the Tea party. I admit I disagree with many US policy, (not all) and I also like the tea party because it illustrates patriotism, and I am VERY patriotic toward my home country china.
Posted by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
No worries, people will decide which aspect of the argument was more clear cut.

As for the Tea Party I was offended because it represents a very serious and powerful message of grassroots patriotism and I hate to see that mocked...
Posted by RyouofFunce 6 years ago
and I"m tea party cause i like tea.:D
Posted by RyouofFunce 6 years ago
yes but PM is more secretive. I don't think the PM is me. I've been receiving PM's just fine from people but noticed I can't PM you.
I'm sorry this debate had a bit of confusion to it.
Posted by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
I didn't know you could disable them aha

besides I find the comment section a pretty neutral place
Posted by RyouofFunce 6 years ago
nether the less. I have my rights to follow whatever political party I want in the united states. Please do not challenge me in person with no relevance to the debate. On the other hand, how do I enable PMs? I"m quite new here
Posted by ConservativePolitico 6 years ago
Well you aren't accepting PM's so...
Posted by RyouofFunce 6 years ago
I find it sportsmanship like for my opponent to take our correspondence outside the debate and attack me with no relevance to the debate what so ever.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by THEBOMB 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's format was much better and easier to understand. He came right out with it and made his points. Con went on and on with a detailed history of Iranian-US relations which while was needed could have been summarized. Con's arguments were based upon there are other alternatives which clearly is not the resolution.
Vote Placed by Deathbeforedishonour 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had better logic, he had better debate format, and he had mor sources. Therefore, victory is pros.
Vote Placed by youngpolitic 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Hmmm an interesting debate to be sure... yet it got a little convoluted... Conduct to Con for his appeal to pathos... but I think that Pro won the debate based on the original guidelines for the debate.