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date: 22 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

How does energy shape international conflict? This chapter reviews the ways in which energy has contributed to modern international wars and conflicts, then identifies a research agenda centered around two key future strategic challenges: the continued military presence of the United States in the Persian Gulf and strategic competition between the United States and China over China’s maritime oil supply routes in the South China Sea. The chapter focuses primarily on oil, the most important source of energy in the modern age, but also considers other sources of energy. It identifies and describes eight mechanisms linking oil to international conflict, then draws on these mechanisms to show how oil has contributed to international wars and how it has shaped the strategies of states during these wars. The chapter begins with World War I, the first war in which oil played a crucial role, and ends with twenty-first-century conflicts. This includes the impact of the 1973 oil crisis on international relations, wars caused by revolutionary petro-states such as Iraq and Iran, how oil contributed to the rise of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and the role of energy in Russia’s assertive behavior in Europe and Syria.

Keywords: international conflict, international security, war, resource war, petro-aggression, Persian Gulf, South China Sea, oil, terrorism

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