In the four decades since Britain announced it would withdraw from its last military bases “East of Suez,” America’s joint force has become the main guarantor of security in the Persian Gulf. The growing U.S. role in the region was driven mainly be the need to assure access to the world’s biggest exploitable reserves of oil and natural gas. But now that may be changing, because the International Energy Agency says that by 2020 the U.S. will eclipse Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer, and within ten years after that become energy-independent. That means the Middle East will be less important in U.S. security strategy, and Washington may tire of protecting oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz that it does not need. I have written a commentary for Forbes on who wins and who loses if this scenario unfolds that can be read here.