Rich Galen

The shipping lane is only about two miles wide.

It is bordered on one side by Oman and on the other by Iran.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, some 17 million barrels of oil pass through the Strait of Hormuz every day.

According to National Geographic, 77 percent of that oil goes to Asia, eight percent to Europe, three percent to Africa and other Middle Eastern destinations and only about 12 percent comes to the U.S.

Yet we pay 100 percent of the cost of protecting that oil.

China is making a very, very good deal.

I am not suggesting we pull up stakes (or anchors) and leave ships passing through the Strait to their own devices - or the Iranian navy, but Professor Roger Stern, of University of Tulsa National Energy Policy Institute has estimated that from 1975 to 2010 the U.S. had spent $8 trillion protecting that oil.

That's a little over a quarter of a trillion dollars a year to make sure the Chinese and the Europeans' oil travels safely to their home ports.

We need the two million barrels of oil we get from Persian Gulf shipments because even with domestic oil production on the rise, we still use more oil (mostly for transportation) than we produce.

Shutting down the Fifth Fleet headquarters in the Gulf is not an option. But, getting the countries that are the beneficiaries of our Navy's protection should be.

A virtual toll booth for ships passing through the Straits of Hormuz to help defray the costs of protecting them should be part of a plan to reduce the U.S. national debt.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at