As the European Union follows into lockstep with the US on inching towards an embargo on Iran oil, we are witnessing a dusted off version of old fashioned gunboat diplomacy.
An EU embargo is a serious step to take: the consequences of such a move could and would threaten fragile economies of its members, already in deep debt. An embargo would shoot up the price of a barrel or oil, some say to a benchmark price of us$150 or more, thereby not only exacerbating social tensions but encouraging strikes and possibly serious attacks on property and the government itself in member countries.
So, it is not a move to be taken lightly. Moreover, an embargo increases the chances of missteps which could lead to military action in the Straits of Hormuz, threatening friend and foe alike. Even the reactionary monarchy in Saudi Arabia shies away from such a manoeuvre.