Energy Politics

Energy Politics

Energy Politics

Energy Politics

Synopsis

It is not uncommon to hear states and their leaders criticized for "mixing oil and politics." The U.S.-led Iraq War was criticized as a "war for oil." When energy exporters overtly use energy as a tool to promote their foreign policy goals, Europe and the United States regularly decry the use of energy as a "weapon" rather than accept it as a standard and legitimate tool of diplomacy.

In Energy Politics, Brenda Shaffer argues that energy and politics are intrinsically linked. Modern life--from production of goods, to means of travel and entertainment, to methods of waging war--is heavily dependent on access to energy. A country's ability to acquire and use energy supplies crucially determines the state of its economy, its national security, and the quality and sustainability of its environment. Energy supply can serve as a basis for regional cooperation, but at the same time can serve as a source of conflict among energy seekers and between producers and consumers.

Shaffer provides a broad introduction to the ways in which energy affects domestic and regional political developments and foreign policy. While previous scholarship has focused primarily on the politics surrounding oil, Shaffer broadens her scope to include the increasingly important role of natural gas and alternative energy sources as well as emerging concerns such as climate change, the global energy divide, and the coordinated international policy-making required to combat them. Energy Politics concludes with examinations of how politics and energy interact in six of the world's largest producers and consumers of energy: Russia, Europe, the United States, China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

Excerpt

It is not uncommon to hear leaders and states criticized for “mixing oil and politics.” Indeed, a standard criticism of the U.S.-led war in Iraq is “it is just about oil.” In assessing the merit of various pipeline and energy production projects, companies and governments are warned to stick to “commercial considerations.” A 2003 joint United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/World Bank report on cross-border oil and gas pipelines proposed as one of its main recommendations that projects should be “driven by commercial considerations.” The United States and Europe have warned Russia and other energy exporting states to separate energy from their foreign relations. German foreign minister Walter Steinmeier warned that “Energy must not become the currency of power in international politics.” U.S. vice president Dick Cheney, referring to Moscow’s behavior in its energy trade with its neighbors, noted that “No legitimate interest is served when oil and gas become tools of intimidation or blackmail, either by supply manipulation or attempts to monopolize transportation.” Clearly, when exporters overtly use energy exports as a tool to promote their foreign policy goals, Europe and the United States regularly decry the use of energy as a “weapon” rather than accept it as a standard and legitimate tool of foreign policy.

This book claims otherwise: energy and politics are intrinsically interlinked. A country’s ability to access energy supplies and the ways in which it uses energy crucially determine the state of its economy, its national security, and the quality and sustainability of its environment. The prevailing lifestyle and structure of global society today is that of “hydrocarbon man”—and the way hydrocarbon man produces goods, wages war, and even finds entertainment is dependent on regular access to fossil fuels. Moreover, for energy exporters and important energytransit states, energy supply policy is as much a part of the policy arsenal as other economic tools, military power, and diplomatic tactics. States are no more likely to refrain from using energy to promote their policy goals than to ignore economic or military means of doing so. These . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.