While working on some things about the house today, we happened to have The History Channel on TV. They were running a series of programs about pirates, starting with Caribbean pirates and their influence on the economy of the 1700s and ending with modern day pirates. To view the program you can purchase the DVD for the stiff price of $29.95 or just wait for a rerun.
The program Return of the Pirates focused on a few of the geographic chokepoints discussed in class a few weeks ago. At the time, I remember thinking pirates couldn't be a real threat in modern times. Obviously not. The United States Coast Guard devotes personnel and money to ensuring safe seas for transport of goods and tourists. And for good reason - pirate attacks are real and have taken place in recent history.
Among the goods prone to piracy is oil. Many of the historians and experts interviewed on the program were discussing the piracy of oil shipments and its impact on the Western world (I am guessing they mean the United States). One even speculated that a well-situated pirate could cut off oil supplies to the United States, thereby severely damaging the economy and crippling the stock market. Another commentator suggested the potential of pirates, possibly even Al Qaeda, would damage the United States worse than any aircraft attack like 9/11/01.
I had no idea piracy of oil shipments was this serious of a problem. Possibly another reason to reduce our dependence on oil, not just foreign oil.