The United States, with support from the United Kingdom and Bahrain, is escorting some oil tankers and other ships in the Persian Gulf to safeguard them from Iranian attacks or hijackings. But the situation is, in many ways, quite different from past encounters in the Gulf. The mid-term prospect is that if a conflict with Iran breaks out and escalates, the United States will likely be alone in the fight. And there is a risk that Americans will become disenchanted with taking on another conflict, particularly when the Iraq war has not turned out very well for the United States and its friends (leaving Iran growing in influence and power) and while Afghanistan is still an expensive, inconclusive, and bloody American-led effort.