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Energy Politics

By Brenda Shaffer

Publication Year: 2010

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.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. 1-18

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...

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Chapter 1. Energy and Regime Type

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pp. 19-27

Major energy exporters possess distinctive patterns of economic and political development. Revenues from oil and gas exports affect the economies of exporting states in a different way than revenue derived from exports of manufactured and other produced goods and services. Almost counterintuitively, oil exporters tend to fare more poorly...

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Chapter 2. Foreign Policy

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pp. 28-46

Energy is both a factor that influences a state’s foreign policy outcomes and a potential tool of foreign policy. Enhancing energy supply security is part of the national security agenda of energy-importing states, while the goal of assuring stable markets is on the policy agenda of exporting states. Stable access to oil, including during war time, is a component of...

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Chapter 3. Pipeline Trends and International Politics

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pp. 47-65

Different means of energy transport create varying relations between suppliers and consumers and have differing political ramifications. In the twenty-first century, new trends have emerged in energy transport that have immense political implications: pipelines are reemerging as a major means of energy supply. In its early production period during the...

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Chapter 4. Conflict

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pp. 66-90

The drive to control oil and natural resources is frequently said to be a cause of wars between states and within states. Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned that the global battle for control of energy has become a major source of conflict: ‘‘competition for access to energy can become the life and death for many societies.’’1 As we saw...

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Chapter 5. Security

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pp. 91-104

Energy is a strategically vital commodity, and access to energy is a necessary element of a state’s security. For many countries, energy security is an integrated element of foreign and national security policies. Energy’s importance becomes particularly clear when world energy markets are tight since concerns about energy security tend to rise. NATO, for...

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Chapter 6. Climate Change

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pp. 105-113

Energy and environmental policies are interconnected: how a state uses energy is one of the most significant factors affecting its environment. At the same time, environmental policies affect energy consumption patterns and prices. The interconnection between energy and environment is most acute in the sphere of climate change: addressing the issue...

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Chapter 7. Russia

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pp. 114-127

Russia is the world’s largest energy exporter and the second-largest energy producer. Already the largest exporter of natural gas, Russia also holds the world’s largest natural gas reserves, second-largest coal reserves, and eighth-largest proven oil reserves, with the potential for considerable further growth in the oil and gas sectors since wide swaths...

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Chapter 8. Europe

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pp. 128-134

The formal integration process that led to the formation of the European Union began with energy cooperation. The first treaty-based organization among the European states was the European Coal and Steel Market (Treaty of Paris, 1951); the second was the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM, 1957)...

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Chapter 9. The United States

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pp. 135-142

Because it is the world’s largest energy consumer and economy, the United States has more impact on global energy trends than any other country. Indeed, not only is the United States the world’s largest energy consumer, it is also the largest energy producer and net importer. The United States possesses the world’s largest coal reserves, sixth-largest...

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Chapter 10. China

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pp. 143-148

China’s energy consumption patterns and policies have attracted wide-spread international interest. This is not surprising: China’s consumption accounts for close to half the growth in world oil consumption in the last decade. This growth has transformed China into a major energy importer and helped fuel the run-up in international oil prices in the...

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Chapter 11. Iran

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pp. 149-154

Iran’s energy profile is unique: the country possesses the second-largest proven reserves of natural gas and is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil. At the same time, Iran has no major natural gas export projects,and imports more natural gas than it exports. In addition, over 40 percent of oil production is consumed in the domestic market, and Iran...

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Chapter 12. Saudi Arabia

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pp. 155-159

For nearly half a century, Saudi Arabia has been the world’s most important oil producer, and through its dominance of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries it has played the leading role in determining global levels of oil exports and, consequently, world oil prices. This leadership role is likely to continue for future decades since the...

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Chapter 13. Conclusion

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pp. 160-166

This examination of the interaction between energy and international politics has clearly demonstrated that the two are integrally interlinked. Commercial and political considerations influence each other and can rarely be neatly separated. An integrated world oil market has increased the degree of interdependence in the world economic and political...


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pp. 167-180


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pp. 181-188

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pp. 189

This book studies the mutual impact of energy and international relations. Throughout most of its history, international relations theory has placed strong emphasis on geography and material sources of power, such as natural resources. However, in the last quarter of the twentieth century, the interest in the discipline in material power has declined and...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812204520
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812221664

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2010