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Global Energy Security and Its Geopolitical Impediments—The Case of the Caspian Region

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For more content, please see Journal of Developing Societies.

This article discusses the global geopolitics of energy security in the post-Cold War environment. Energy companies headquartered in western countries have long history of accessing energy resources beyond borders through invasion of the host by their home state, followed by domination and the creation of property rights to explore and sell oil. Conquest and domination, respectively voluntary exchange are the survival strategies of human groups in the global system. The article differentiates between demand-induced scarcity, supply-induced scarcity, structural scarcity, and the creation and transfer of property rights. Together, the behaviors referred to by these concepts create a field of social forces that cross state borders and involve state and non-state actors. Monopolizing control over energy resources by the Anglo-Saxon maritime powers was one of the causes of both world wars. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has been creating a land-based extension of its post-World War II defense perimeter. It runs from Romania, via Central Eurasia, to Israel, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Overland transport increasingly connects economies and energy supplies on the Central European and Pacific sides of the Eurasian continent. The US, therefore, has decided to bring under its military umbrella the energy-carrying region between industrializing China and India, recovering Russia and unifying Europe. China's policy to secure its energy supply by direct contracting with the home state and legal owner of the stock, brings it into confrontation with the US. The latter consumes one-quarter of the energy assumed to be present in the Greater Middle East. In recent decades, the Chinese economy has been growing at a rate substantially above the worldwide growth rate, which implies that China's share in the world economy is increasing over time. Accordingly, China is becoming more dependent on imports, especially energy. The US domestic oil production peaked in 1970-71. Thus, the US has no spare capacity to provide its allies in Europe and East Asia in case of an interruption of supply. The conquest of Iraq by the US and its allies, and the transfer of the management of the oil sector from the state to a US tax-paying private company opens a new era of violent interstate competition for access to and control of fossil energy sources.

Affiliations: 1: International Institute for Asian Studies and Adjunct Professor of International Relations, Webster University; 2: Associate Professor of International Relations, University of Amsterdam


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