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Oil, Illiberalism, and WarAn Analysis of Energy and US Foreign Policy$
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Andrew T. Price-Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262029063

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262029063.001.0001

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Oil and International Security

Oil and International Security

(p.75) 4 Oil and International Security
Oil, Illiberalism, and War

Andrew T. Price-Smith

The MIT Press

Price-Smith argues that US foreign energy policy frequently exhibits a fundamentally illiberal character, and this is particularly true of US military actions taken in the domain of energy. He advances several specific arguments; that material forces exert an enormous (but often ignored) influence on the United States’ security decision making and on its grand strategy; Perceptions and misperceptions regarding the availability of energy (e.g., oil) affect decision making, and may result in deviations from rationality that contribute to the onset of conflicts, such as the United States’ problematic decision to invade Iraq in 2003. Moreover, Price-Smith argues that oil acts as a mechanism that exacerbates the security dilemma in the Persian Gulf. Oil resources serve as a target of aggression, and revenue flows from oil foster militarization and intensify a regional arms race that has sporadically resulted in powerful manifestations of inter-state violence. However, Price-Smith argues against the common wisdom that scarcity of oil will impel conflicts between the Great Powers. Instead, he argues that the Great Powers are pursuing a strategy of asymmetrical conflict against weaker states in the early 21st century, and that this is associated with a desire to attain mastery over energy resources.

Keywords:   Oil, Energy, International Security, Great Powers, Gulf War, Persian Gulf

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