It does not take a PhD in foreign affairs to understand that Iran’s oil would be harder to get if we blow up their infrastructure. Maybe they will have a hard time pumping through pipes that are cratered and on fire, and maybe they will choose not to. Who could have guessed?
History lesson! The WWII Axis powers seemed to attack almost everyone at once because a dominant regional empire needs access to reliable petroleum reserves, which neither Germany nor Japan had. Securing supply lines from south Asia to Japan and from the middle east to Germany meant subduing an awful lot of land and sea, but it was either that or give up on the idea of total self-determination. At the time oil was not so much of a global commodity, and so the geography of production mattered quite a bit. So, blood, bombs, mass death and the rest.
The funny economics of peak phase oil production puts people in the position of needing almost exactly as much oil as can be feasibly pumped out of the ground. Iran’s oil is precious only because everyone’s oil is precious. We would face the same disaster if Venezuela or Alaska or the British North Sea suddenly went dark. Inflexible supply falls short of inflexible demand. What next? First the price adjusts until people re-evaluate how inflexible their demand really is. Ask yourself, for example, when is the last time you saw a Hummer dealership. Eventually, though, the basic idea of oil as a globally traded commodity will make less sense when the price reaches some arbitrarily silly number. At that point the geography of oil once again matters quite a lot. The brain trust who thought up the Iraq war more or less admitted that they had this phase of history in mind while they drew their invasion plans in crayon and finger paint (1. kill Saddam. 2. Iraqis welcome Ahmad Chalabi as their new permanent leader. 3. Profit!!).
What to do? We could try divesting ourselves now. You do not work out alternatives after oil runs down; when scarcity becomes an inescapable reality basic survival boils down to an existential struggle, blood, bombs, mass death and the rest, ending in small numbers of people making rudimentary tools to pry food out of cans with faded labels that they can’t read. I work in research. Research needs a lot of spare resources and the time to get it right. When surpluses are gone you will not see a calm transition to some hypothetical alternative, you will see chaos. We need a little lead time to try out the alternatives and work out their relative strengths and weaknesses, while oil still keeps the lights on. Personally I would suggest more urgency. A little time might be all we’ve got.