Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War Kindle Edition
|Length: 328 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled|
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Charles L. Glaser, The Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
"There are hundreds of books on global security and oil. Yet it would be hard to find one as compelling and original as Petro-Aggression, which develops new insights into the foreign policies of countries that are both oil-rich and have revolutionary aims. Colgan's analysis breaks important new ground in the study of organized violence and natural resources."
Michael L. Ross, Department of Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles
"In Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War, Jeff Colgan provides an indispensable starting point for researchers interested in the relationship between oil and international conflict ... he offers a theoretical foundation for future research on a topic likely to grow in importance over the next several years - both within the field of international relations and out in the "real world"."
Rosemary A. Kelanic, H-Diplo
"... this book moves the research frontier forward and will set an agenda for future work - particularly since the author has posted the replication data on his American University website."
Nils Petter Gleditsch, Journal of Peace Research
"Resource wars, including coverage of struggles over access to oil, have been the focus of many studies in recent years. This book, however, features a different angle: countries that produce significant amounts of oil that do not act aggressively to enhance their oil supplies, but instead instigate interstate wars ... Recommended. Professional collections."
A. Klinghoffer, Choice --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- File size : 5461 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 328 pages
- Publisher : Cambridge University Press (January 31, 2013)
- Publication date : January 31, 2013
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00B4V6HL0
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Simultaneous device usage : Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,728,507 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book kicks off with a big thesis: petrostates (states where oil exports exceed 10% of GDP) are more likely to initiate inter-state conflict than non-petrostates; moreover, petrostates with revolutionary governments are even more aggressive. The prima facie case for this statement comes from a powerful chart, showing that petrostates are involved in conflicts more often than non-petrostates, and, more importantly, they are significantly more likely to start conflicts. When you mix oil dependency with a revolutionary government, you get an explosive mix. Jeff Colgan also lays out a plausible causal link for this: oil income reduces domestic accountability and hence lowers the costs of foreign policy adventurism, while revolutionary governments are generally led by risk-taking individuals. So far, so good.
The trouble comes, in my mind, with the testing of the thesis. The quantitative model makes (inevitably) a number of judgment calls, which I just happen to think weaken the thesis. In particular, by treating “petrostate” as a binary variable, the model ignores how changes in a country’s oil revenues might impact its behavior. Interestingly, Mr. Colgan notes that, “it is … unlikely that there is a tight correlation between changes in oil revenues and the state’s propensity for international conflict” (p. 50). But even in the case studies in this book, one could plausibly see such correlation (for example in Libya and Iran).
The biggest problem, however, comes from a sense that the thesis is built on a very narrow empirical foundation. The core argument is that revolutionary petrostates are highly aggressive, but on closer look, it appears that Iran, Iraq and Libya account for three-quarters of all the data points. To his credit, Mr. Colgan recognizes this: “the overall above-average rate of international disputes is driven almost entirely by the small subset of revolutionary petrostates, which are extremely aggressive” (p. 73). Yet one is still left wondering whether this thesis is essentially a very elaborate way of saying that Iraq, Iran and Libya have been, at times, overly aggressive.
In fact, Mr. Colgan decided to not classify as revolutionary governments that founded a state (for good reasons, to be sure). But this decision becomes problematic for Saudi Arabia, which could plausibly be considered a revolutionary government but is not for the purposes of this book. By using Saudi Arabia to show “the difference a revolution makes,” one feels somewhat tricked by a definitional, rather than substantive, point. The same problem can be said for the case study on Venezuela where the author amasses all sorts of data points to support his claim that the country pursued an aggressive foreign policy (the oil for doctors trade with Cuba, for example). Again, one feels a slight stretch to make the point. Nor is there much explanation of how revolutionary governments mellow down (again, Iran and Libya come to mind).
Despite these shortcomings, this is an excellent book that elucidates the linkages between oil and aggressive conflict in very important and innovate ways—even if it does not quite settle the subject (at least in my mind).