Kerester 1
Andrew Kerester
Professor Frank Griggs
Pols 3412
Research Analysis Paper
December 10, 2015
Oil and its Relation...
Kerester 2
reaching campaigns with a variety of war machines, increases the capabilities of an economy to
produce a wider ...
Kerester 3
While past scholars, such as Michael Ross, have explored and confirmed the existence of
a “resource curse” in w...
Kerester 4
oil in attracting foreign intervention. Governments of oil-importing countries are keenly aware
that disturbanc...
Kerester 5
that, “Essentially the United States fought the Gulf War in 1990-91 over oil.”9 He elaborates
further on this p...
Kerester 6
leaders of Middle Eastern countries are forced to shape their domestic and foreign policies within
the boundari...
Kerester 7
However, before delving into these case studies we must recall the central question
behind this paper: Can oil ...
Kerester 8
numerous civil wars in the past several decades13 and the pattern of France’s intervention in
these conflicts r...
Kerester 9
and so the former customer has become the current competitor. Instead of exerting influence to
secure oil suppl...
Kerester 10
we have delved into several case studies we have gained a much better insight into the nature of
how these pow...
Kerester 11
between oil and power dynamics, and ideally serve to solidify the validity of my main argument
in this paper.
Kerester 12
Bibliography
Scholarly Sources
1. Bove, V., K. S. Gleditsch, and P. G. Sekeris. ""Oil above Water": Economic
I...
of 12

Pols 3412 Research Paper

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
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Transcripts - Pols 3412 Research Paper

  • 1. Kerester 1 Andrew Kerester Professor Frank Griggs Pols 3412 Research Analysis Paper December 10, 2015 Oil and its Relationship to Power Dynamics between States Introduction While natural resources and power may not initially appear to have many traits in common, they do have one significant similarity: many men throughout history have sought these potential vices and many have lost their lives in their attempts to consolidate them under their control. While mankind has fought each other in competition to acquire control over many different natural resources, some resources tend to instigate conflict more so than others. Oil, for several reasons, is included among this category of natural resources with a tendency to cause or facilitate conflict. For one, oil literally fuels most modern developed economies, which gives it immense strategic importance in terms of both national security and economic security, providing strong incentives for competing groups to resort to violent conflict in order to gain or maintain control over it. Another reason oil tends to exacerbate conflict is that it often leads to concentration of power and wealth in the hands of a few, leaving the masses to wallow in envy.1 This phenomenon is particularly visible in states with oil-exporting as the dominant pillar of their economy, due to the nature of oil extraction.2 A common theme behind oil’s tendency to cause or intensify conflict is the role oil plays as both an indirect and direct source of power. Oil, when acting as a direct source of power, provides a military with the fuel to conduct long and far- 1 Ross, Michael L. "Does Oil Hinder Democracy?" World Politics, 2001, 325-61. 2 Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?”
  • 2. Kerester 2 reaching campaigns with a variety of war machines, increases the capabilities of an economy to produce a wider a range of goods and services, and allows a country to fuel the vehicles responsible for overland and overseas trade. Oil, when acting as an indirect source of power, provides states with a valuable commodity to export, as well as economic leverage when engaging in international diplomacy. Oil can certainly bolster a state’s power when utilized in the right ways, but is it possible that oil could also weaken a state’s power, possibly even making it worse off than if it never had it? This question will act as the central theme of this paper as we continue. My thesis in regards to this question is that oil-exporting reliant states’ rich oil supplies attracts significant attention from world powers who use their influence and control to shape events in favor of their national interests, often resulting in the oil-exporting reliant state experiencing a loss of power, free will to act independently in the world system and/or a degree of their sovereignty as a direct result of this foreign influence. Using intuitive reasoning and a realist framework, I argue this to be the case because vast oil reserves can attract unwanted attention from both internal and external powers who wish to exert control over the flow of oil, thereby threatening a state’s own sovereignty and power as other actors invest resources into gaining meaningful influence within the oil-exporting dependent state and the surrounding region. With the ultimate goal of displaying the validity of my thesis, the discussion will commence first with a review of literature from past scholars about the topic, and from there will move on to introducing and analyzing case studies from current global events to display concrete examples of the relationship between oil and power. After accomplishing this, the paper will finally conclude with a recap of my main argument and the key points to take away from this discussion. Literature Review
  • 3. Kerester 3 While past scholars, such as Michael Ross, have explored and confirmed the existence of a “resource curse” in which high dependency upon oil and mineral exportation leads to deceased levels of democracy3, this paper will explore a different dimension and instead opt to investigate how oil affects the power dynamics of oil-exporting reliant states. Taking on such a task necessitates research of what past scholars have had to say about the topic. We begin with an examination of Professor Vincenzo Bove’s and Professor Petros Sekeris’ article written for the International Peace Institute, “Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions.” In this work, the authors use “statistical analysis to explore whether oil is a motivating factor for military interventions in ongoing civil wars.”4 They found that oil production and oil reserves are key elements motivating foreign military intervention in civil wars.5 In addition, they found that, “…the higher the quantities of oil produced and/or owned by a country at civil war, the higher the likelihood of third-party intervention.” Furthermore, the strongest evidence Bove and Sekeris provide of the civil war-oil-foreign intervention connection is the statistical evidence showing that, “…the likelihood of a nation intervening militarily is positively tied to the quantities of oil imported by that specific country.”6 In other words, the more oil a state imports, the more likely it is to intervene in oil-rich states at civil war. In fact, Bove and Vincenzo show an astonishing fact about this relationship in that, “…intervention is approximately 100 times more likely when the country at war has a high value of reserves and the intervening country has high oil imports than when the country at war has no oil reserves and the potential intervener has high oil exports.”7 This fact alone sheds a strong light on the role of 3 Ross, “Does Oil Hinder Democracy?” 4 Bove, Vincenzo, and Petris Sekeris. "Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions." IPI Global Observatory. March 5, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. 5 Bove and Sekeris, “Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions.” 6 Bove and Sekeris, “Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions.” 7 Bove and Sekeris, “Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions.”
  • 4. Kerester 4 oil in attracting foreign intervention. Governments of oil-importing countries are keenly aware that disturbances in the oil market caused by civil wars results in higher global oil prices and therefore they have strong incentive to end the conflict with direct military intervention, thereby returning stability to oil production.8 Since more often than not the interest of the foreign intervener lies in returning stability to oil production as quick as possible rather than investing in crafting a long-term resolution that truly resolves the problems which started the conflict, the resolution to the conflict could likely end up failing to resolve key issues which ignited it. This would set up the oil-exporting reliant state for internal grievances and/or internal conflict in the future, neither of which serves to benefit it. Additionally, relying on foreign intervention to resolve the conflict, whether by choice or not, severely limits the independence of the state experiencing civil war, as it will have little choice but to cater to the interests and wishes of the foreign intervener. The statistical evidence and analysis of Bove and Sekeris’ study shows a clear linkage between oil and foreign intervention, and provides a solid confirmation that the oil of oil-exporting reliant states (aka states with high levels of oil production relative their economy) does in fact greatly attract the attention, and intervention in some cases, of world powers. Bove and Sekeris provide the framework for us to examine a specific example of the phenomena they describe. Let us now consider Oystein Noreng’s peer-reviewed work, “Crude Power: Politics and the Oil Market”, which makes use of a realist framework. Noreng’s work will use the Middle East and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 to show us how oil-exporting reliant states attract significant attention from world powers often leading them to lose full autonomy over their actions and/or lose power, as a result of foreign influence. In this work, Noreng makes the claim 8 Bove and Sekeris, “Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions.”
  • 5. Kerester 5 that, “Essentially the United States fought the Gulf War in 1990-91 over oil.”9 He elaborates further on this point, suggesting that the US came to Kuwait’s defense because Iraq presented a direct threat to Kuwaiti and Saudi oil fields10, rather than because Iraq’s attempted annexation of Kuwait broke international law. In this case, oil acted as a key factor in the outcome of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, essentially providing a “magnet” which attracted the attention of world powers like the United States who harbored fears of the invasion’s implications for the global oil market. Noreng asserts that, “The [Gulf] crisis concerned the oil supply pattern from the Middle East and the oil price, as well as the regional balance of power.”11 This assertion holds particular importance in our discussion because it implies a distinction in the motive for the US’s intervention, suggesting that the US’s response would have been different, and likely less urgent, if the countries involved had not been oil-rich and the only issue was that Iraq broke international law by annexing territory of a sovereign nation. However, since both Iraq and Kuwait, and the potentially threatened Saudi Arabia, are oil-rich (and reliant on oil-exportation), the US and other major powers could not ignore the threat Iraq posed to a major source of their oil: “For the United States, the UK and France, control of oil abroad has been and remains an important foreign policy objective. The economic foundation of the British presence in the Gulf region was the oil investment, which also motivated the military presence. Likewise, the current US military presence in the Gulf is motivated by oil.”12 The presence of oil in the Middle East attracts the presence of significant military forces, sent by world powers like the US, with the goal of maintaining the flow of oil, and these forces will turn on any country in the region that foolishly tries to, directly or indirectly, interrupt the stability of this flow of oil. As a result, 9 Noreng, Oystein. "Crude Power: Politics and the Oil Market." Choice Reviews Online 41.01 (2003): n. pag. Web. 10 Noreng, “Crude Power: Politics and the Oil Market.” 11 Noreng, “Crude Power: Politics and the Oil Market.” 12 Noreng, “Crude Power: Politics and the Oil Market.”
  • 6. Kerester 6 leaders of Middle Eastern countries are forced to shape their domestic and foreign policies within the boundaries of what world powers consider acceptable in the context of maintaining the stability of the global oil market. In the context of Noreng’s Gulf War example, the United States’ intervention limited the actions Iraq could take (or get away with), sending a strong message to other potential aggressors in the region, while simultaneously making the other gulf oil-exporting reliant states dependent upon the US for protection, thereby giving the US significant influence over those countries, as guaranteeing a state’s security from invasion by other states can act as powerful leverage over the protected state’s policies and actions. Now that we have considered Bove, Sekeris, and Noreng’s work we can see more clearly how oil-exporting reliant states can invite unwanted, and sometimes violent, attention from external foreign powers. The competing interests of an oil-exporting reliant state’s government and foreign governments results in a variety of pressures which significantly impact the oil- exporting reliant state’s power, often in a negative way if the oil-exporting reliant state proves unable to manage the deluge of foreign attention its oil brings. Bove and Sekeris’ work demonstrates a clear connection between foreign intervention and civil war in states with high levels of oil production. Using Noreng’s example and analysis of the Middle East and the First Gulf War, we have seen a specific example of how oil significantly impacts power dynamics, inviting attention from world powers that all have an interest in keeping the oil flowing, even if it means intervening directly in order to implement its own policy. Having discussed substantial evidence from scholarly sources, we may now advance the discussion to a presentation of my own examples and case studies constructed from both journalistic and scholarly sources. Analysis
  • 7. Kerester 7 However, before delving into these case studies we must recall the central question behind this paper: Can oil potentially make a state less powerful than if it had not had oil in the first place? In answering this question I employ a realist framework, and as such my hypothesis is that oil-exporting reliant states often find themselves entangled in the power dynamics and attention from world powers their oil brings, leading them to be worse off than if they did not have oil to begin with if they fail to properly manage these power dynamics. How “worse off” a country is cannot easily be measured, and so it is necessary to make it abundantly clear that within the context of my argument that when I use the phrase “worse off” it is strictly in relation to how much power a state wields. Power, in the context of my argument, is defined as the ability to take independent, autonomous actions regardless of the wishes or attitudes of other states. A realist framework serves as the foundation for my hypothesis, and as such it guides my expectations in that when researching case studies I expect states to exhibit primarily self-serving behavior in pursuit of their national interests, leading me to believe that oil’s strategic and monetary value entices world powers such as the US to exert their influence over weaker oil- exporting reliant states in pursuit of their own national interests. If my hypothesis is true and the evidence supports it, than I would expect to observe a pattern among oil-exporting reliant states whereby world powers influence or impose their will upon these states in a way that limits the sovereignty and/or free will of these states, to a certain degree, to act on the international stage. When researching this topic it did not take long to find examples of foreign states exerting influence over oil-exporting reliant states because of their oil. To start, let us consider France and its former colonies, Chad, Mali and Niger. These countries have experienced
  • 8. Kerester 8 numerous civil wars in the past several decades13 and the pattern of France’s intervention in these conflicts reveals an interesting trend: France only seems to intervene in cases in which oil is involved. For instance, Chad was known to have oil but civil war prevented further exploitation of this, so it is no coincidence that in the 1970s and 1980s France frequently intervened in Chad to prop up the government.14 In addition, France did not intervene in Mali’s civil conflict in the 1990s when the country did not have any known profitable oil fields, but after prospects for profitable oil extraction took off in the mid-2000s, France chose to intervene in 2012 when secessionists attempted to take control of Mali.15 Standing in stark contrast, France did not have any desire to intervene in Niger’s civil war, a country known not to have oil.16 Another model of this phenomenon is the current effect falling oil prices have had on countries around the world and how the US has taken advantage of this. In large part due to the recent revolution in shale gas and oil, the US has nearly achieved energy independence,17 and by producing its own oil has simultaneously reduced demand and increased supply, further reducing global oil prices. Additionally, the US is on the verge of lifting its decades long oil-export ban,18 putting even more downward pressure on global oil prices, and has emerged as one of the world’s “big three” petroleum producers, joining Russia and Saudi Arabia.19 However, unlike Russia and Saudi Arabia the US is not reliant on oil-exports for the well-being of its economy, 13 Bove, V., K. S. Gleditsch, and P. G. Sekeris. "Oil above Water": Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention." Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2015. 14 Bove, Gleditsch, and Sekeris, “Oil Above Water: Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention” 15 Bove, Gleditsch, and Sekeris, “Oil Above Water: Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention” 16 Bove, Gleditsch, and Sekeris, “Oil Above Water: Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention” 17 Mannteufel, Ingo. "Opinion: The Case Against a US-Russia Alliance in Syria." DW.COM. October 21, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. 18 Yergin, Daniel. "The Global Battle for Oil Market Share." WallStreetJournal.com. December 15, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. 19 Yergin, “The Global Battle for Oil Market Share”
  • 9. Kerester 9 and so the former customer has become the current competitor. Instead of exerting influence to secure oil supplies abroad, it now focuses on fostering its growing domestic oil industry and uses its considerable international power to apply pressure to its geo-political and economic competitors. For instance, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea the US and EU enacted economic sanctions on Russia, knowing that Russia’s oil-exporting reliant economy is vulnerable to global commodity price shifts. Combined with falling oil prices, the sanctions have taken a considerable toll: “The ‘economic storm’ has caused ‘bewilderment’ and nervousness at the top, since the elites did not anticipate the West’s determination to impose effective sanctions and underestimated the effect of those sanctions.”20 The United States knows that the Russian economy relies on exporting oil and that it fairs poorly when oil prices fall, presenting a perfect opportunity to strike with these economic sanctions to further damage the vulnerable Russian economy in pursuit of its geopolitical goals. However, while American influence has taken a toll on Russia, they have the potential to rebound if they revive other sectors of their economy, unlike Saudi Arabia and the Gulf OPEC states which are “one-trick ponies by comparison.”21 American influence over oil-exporting reliant states does not stop at the global market. The US also provides extensive military aid and soldiers to Persian Gulf oil producers, and has traditionally supported conservative autocratic regimes in these states, despite pushing for democratic reform in most other arenas.22 America’s large-scale military and political support for these Persian Gulf oil-exporting reliant states is, “at least in part motivated to ensure that countries on the Arabian peninsula maintain crude oil prices within a target range.”23 Now that 20 Jensen, Donald. "Russia's Elites Battle Over a Shrinking Economic Pie." Institute of Modern Russia. October 21, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. 21 Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. "Russia Plans $40 a Barrel Oil for Next Seven Years as Saudi Showdown Intensifies." The Telegraph. December 11, 2015. Accessed December 11, 2015. 22 Bove, Gleditsch, and Sekeris, “Oil Above Water: Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention” 23 Bove, Gleditsch, and Sekeris, “Oil Above Water: Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention”
  • 10. Kerester 10 we have delved into several case studies we have gained a much better insight into the nature of how these power dynamics play out between major world powers and oil-exporting reliant states. Conclusion As we can see from recent history and current events, oil-exporting reliant states demonstrate a likelihood to draw the attention of major world powers who often invest considerable resources and time into exerting influence over these states. We began our journey with a review of what past scholars have had to say about the relationship between power and oil. Bove and Sekeris’ work provided us with direct proof of the increased likelihood of world powers to intervene in oil-exporting reliant states vs non-oil-exporting reliant states, while Noreng’s work gave us a confirmed example of this phenomenon, giving a clearer picture of this concept. We then advanced to discussing case studies of this phenomenon such as in the case of the US ramping up its oil production with the outcome being lower global oil prices harmful to the economies of oil-exporting reliant states. Additionally, we have seen how the US also provides aid and support to some of these states in return for greater influence over them, thereby limiting their free will to act on the international stage. After considering this volume of evidence, it is apparent that there is at least a degree of truth to the claim that oil-exporting reliant states attract the attention of major world powers, who then exhibit a tendency to exert their influence over these states, ultimately weakening and limiting the free will of these oil- exporting reliant states to act independently. If we were to continue delving into researching this topic, we would need to examine a large volume of statistical evidence as well as case studies in order to directly compare countries with similar characteristics but differing in whether they are an oil-exporting reliant state or not. This would help us shed more light on the relationship
  • 11. Kerester 11 between oil and power dynamics, and ideally serve to solidify the validity of my main argument in this paper.
  • 12. Kerester 12 Bibliography Scholarly Sources 1. Bove, V., K. S. Gleditsch, and P. G. Sekeris. ""Oil above Water": Economic Interdependence and Third-party Intervention." Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2015. 2. Bove, Vincenzo, and Petris Sekeris. "Fueling Conflict: The Role of Oil in Foreign Interventions." IPI Global Observatory. March 5, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. http://theglobalobservatory.org/2015/03/civil-wars-oil-above-water-military-intervention 3. Noreng, Oystein. "Crude Power: Politics and the Oil Market." Choice Reviews Online 41.01 (2003): n. pag. Web. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=w9qF5xuVA74C&oi=fnd&pg=PR6&dq =oil+and+power+politics&ots=UsNrRJBeBJ&sig=A7lh8NLwZWaY6QJJFzjLDop1eNE #v=onepage&q=oil%20and%20power%20politics&f=false 4. Ross, Michael L. "Does Oil Hinder Democracy?" World Politics, 2001, 325-61. Journalistic Sources 1. Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. "Russia Plans $40 a Barrel Oil for Next Seven Years as Saudi Showdown Intensifies." The Telegraph. December 11, 2015. Accessed December 11, 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/12046185/russia-opec-saudi-arabia- bluff-40-oil-price.html 2. Jensen, Donald. "Russia's Elites Battle Over a Shrinking Economic Pie." Institute of Modern Russia. October 21, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. http://imrussia.org/en/analysis/politics/2454-russia’s-elites-battle-over-a-shrinking- economic-pie 3. Mannteufel, Ingo. "Opinion: The Case Against a US-Russia Alliance in Syria." DW.COM. October 21, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-the-case-against-a-us-russia-alliance-in-syria/a-18798418 4. Yergin, Daniel. "The Global Battle for Oil Market Share." WallStreetJournal.com. December 15, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/the- global-battle-for-oil-market-share-1450220940

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