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Energy Security and Global Politics: The Militarization of Resource Management

An increase in world’s energy needs coupled with a decrease in available resources has created a trend that will lead to the militarization of energy resources in the future. This could cause a realpolitik style international conflict and power struggle, and it is this issue that is addressed in this work.


An increase in world’s energy needs coupled with a decrease in available resources has created a trend that will lead to the militarization of energy resources in the future. This could cause a realpolitik style international conflict and power struggle, and it is this issue that is addressed in this work. This book consists of 11 articles that look at energy security policy in world politics and the militarization of resource management. In this context, this work focuses upon the changing parameters in the energy sector, such as oil dependency, resource mercantilism, and the relationship between energy security and international security from the Persian Gulf to Central Asia and the United States to China in global energy politics.

In the introduction, which is called the militarization of energy security, the three editors argue that states place energy security at the heart of their national security and consider energy security a national security issue. In other words, states identify energy security with securitization, which is embedded within their national security discourse. In this way, the securitization of energy security policies has introduced a new military-defense doctrine based upon the control of energy resources – the militarization of resource management. Such developments in the energy field increase the risks of strategic miscalculations. However, the increasing tendency to directly control energy sources through military means, the vagueness of armed conflicts in the offshore areas of state sovereignty (for instance, the Arctic, Antarctic, and Southeast Asia) can be considered risks. In addition, puppet states that were established to indirectly control strategic energy source (in this regard the US’s occupation of Iraq and the regime change may be assessed), the active military control of transport routes for energy sources (it gives NATO a new mission such as in the Gulf of Aden to combat pirates), and military units being transported to energy resources as problems arise create even further risks. Another striking point is that the militarization of energy resources is breaking away from globalization. Thus, states, as the dominant powers, are increasing their power at the expense of multinational companies in the energy sector.

In the first section, the relationship between energy security, war and international trade, and strategic action is analyzed and the interaction of these variables with each other is defined. Michael T. Klare argues that developments such as the lack of oil and the competition focused on oil resources has led military powers to ensure energy security. In this sense, energy security has been militarized due to petroleum anxiety. Furthermore, Duane Chapman examines the question of the US’s role in the Persian Gulf. According to the author, international security and stability are dependent on Gulf oil. An American-centric security system is in force in the region for today but is based upon the military and such unilateralism is not sustainable.

Chapman also indicates that the security guarantor status of the US is valid only as long as it is able to control the Gulf countries, but his analysis is incomplete and inadequate owing to his overlooking the rising powers in the region. In addition, Saad Rahim continues and reinforces the previous author’s argument with his thesis that global energy security is dependent on the stability of the Gulf countries. In the context of energy security and Russia, Soligo and Jaffe also deal with the Putin administration’s foreign policy of economization and energization as a remarkable phenomenon. Furthermore, Russia’s use of energy as a weapon in foreign policy brings instability in global energy markets. Thomas Johnson also analyzes the axes of energy and security in Central Asia in connection with Russia. The author alleges that there is a Faustian bargain between Russia and the Central Asian countries which leads to mutual dependence or an interdependence relationship whereas China has emerged as a balance to Russia as well as to the US. China is faring well in the region because it does not concern with the authoritarian regimes unlike the US and the Western countries. The US and Western countries are promoting democracy but on the other hand China has no democratic credentials and do not want to promote democracy. Boucek continues the analysis of Central Asian energy politics and asserts that Russia is dependent upon cheap Turkmen natural gas to prolong its dominance and monopolistic energy policy in Eurasian energy politics. What’s more, with the in-

crease in the critical role of Turkmenistan in Eurasian energy policy thanks to administration changes in December 2006, Russian dominance has become slippery and risky.

Trinkunas examines energy security in the case of Venezuela and highlights the relationship between Chavez coming to power and the radical changes in Latin American-US relations. The Chavez administration has defined the US as a threat and as a result has militarized its oil policy, which has led to a freezing of US influence in Latin America. However, Chavez’s policy is based on its own contradictions. The US, which is defined as the greatest threat, is in fact Venezuela’s largest customer. For that reason, Chavez’s oil-fueled foreign policy, which hinges upon American opposition, is restricted. On the other hand, in the section on Chinese energy policy, Newyer argues that its energy policy will determine the country’s future. He has projected scenarios on China’s possible energy policies based on continued economic growth and that to be strong it is likely to follow a defensive and market-oriented energy policy. Nevertheless, China’s regime and its developing relationships with neighbors could also shape its energy policy. In the last section, the future of US supremacy in the Gulf with the engagement of rising powers is discussed in the context of resource mercantilism and the militarization of energy resource management. The author claims that the rising powers’ developing relationships with Gulf countries has challenged US interests in the region. Consequently, these developments will probably occupy the agenda of US foreign and defense policy. Moreover, the increasing engagement of the rising powers in the Gulf will introduce competition and will eventually end the US hegemony in the region.

In conclusion, the energy policies that have been on the agenda of international politics since 1973 will emerge as one of the most fundamental factors to reshape the world in the near future and these energy politics include the potential for conflicts in many cases. Although the essays in this book are US centric in approach not taking the Central Asian perspectives into account and takes the securitization of energy policy as a fundamental level of analysis it should be read in order to more properly understand the present and future of global transformations in energy.

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