Crude Strategy: Rethinking US Military Commitment to Defend Persian Gulf Oil

By: Charles Glaser and Rosemary Kelanic

Crude Strategy, edited by Charles L. Glaser and Rosemary A. Kelanic, explores whether the United States should continue to rely on its military to protect the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf; and, if its security commitment is strategically sound, whether the United States should revise its military posture.  Contributors delve into a range of vital economic and security issues: the economic costs of an oil supply disruption, whether or not an American withdrawal increases the probability of a disruption, the internal stability of Saudi Arabia, the budgetary costs of the U.S. military commitment to the Gulf, and the possibility of blunting the effects of disruptions with non-military investments. 

The Return of Energy Insecurity in the Developed Democracies

By: John S. Duffield

During the past decade, concerns about energy security have reached levels not witnessed in the developed democracies since the 1970s and early 1980s. In good part because of such concerns, each of the largest of these countries – Britain, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States – has conducted a major review of energy policy, initiated significant policy changes, or both. Also like the 1970s, recent years have seen a variety of proposals for international cooperation to promote energy security. This is where the similarities with the past largely end, however. In contrast to the earlier period, when the principal sources of concern in these countries were high oil prices and uncertain oil supplies, recent worries about energy security have been much more diverse. This paper describes these differences and explores their implications. It argues that the disparities in today's energy security concerns and policy preferences in the major developed democracies are due in part to the divergent policies pursued in response to the oil shocks of the 1970s. It also argues that the present differences will make meaningful cooperation by these countries to promote energy security, which was never easy in the past, yet more difficult.

John S. Duffield. "The Return of Energy Insecurity in the Developed Democracies." Contemporary Security Policy. Volume 33, Issue 1, 2012. 1-26. PDF Version 

The Petroleum Paradox: Oil, Coercive Vulnerability, and Great Power Behavior

By: Rosemary A. Kelanic

Why do great powers fear oil coercion, and what explains the strategies they adopt to protect themselves from it? The paper identifies three types of anticipatory strategies great powers pursue: self-sufficiency, indirect control, and direct control. A state's choice of strategy depends on its degree of vulnerability to oil coercion, which in turn is determined by two independent variables: the amount of oil the country possesses compared to what it needs to meet strategic objectives and the susceptibility of its imports to physical disruption. Great powers fear oil coercion not only because they worry about damage to their economies; petroleum denial also threatens a country's military capabilities. Four case studies illustrate the theory, including Great Britain's efforts to reduce coercive vulnerability at the close of the First World War and Adolf Hitler's attempts across three periods to safeguard German oil access before and during World War II.

Rosemary A. Kelanic. "The Petroleum Paradox: Oil, Coercive Vulnerability, and Great Power Behavior." Security Studies. Volume 25, Issue 2, 2016. 181-213. PDF Version 

Oil Security and Conventional War: Lessons From a China-Taiwan Air War Scenario

By: Rosemary Kelanic

In the past, conventional militaries were plagued by wartime oil shortages that severely undermined their battlefield effectiveness. But could oil shortages threaten military effectiveness in a large-scale conventional conflict today or in the future? Observers commonly assume that the amount of oil consumed today for military purposes is small compared to production and civilian demand, and thus that wartime shortages are unlikely. But this assumption has not been subject to rigorous evaluation in the unclassified literature. In this Energy Report, Rosemary Kelanic argues that it is flawed.

The Energy Report analyzes a potential air war between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan (also known as the Republic of China or ROC)—to enhance broader knowledge about fuel requirements in wartime. The insight gained from modeling such a conflict makes it possible to provide a rough estimate of potential fuel requirements and assess whether military demand could strain countries' supplies in the present, as it did in the past. Kelanic ultimately concludes that oil and fuel supplies could become significant constraints on China and Taiwan in the event of war. She also argues that this prospect helps illuminate Chinese oil security strategies, including strategic stockpiling and efforts to diversify supply routes for imported oil.

PDF Version 

How Oil Influences U.S. National Security 

By: Charles L. Glaser

U.S. scholars and policymakers commonly worry that a lack of "energy security" hurts U.S. national security, yet few have analyzed the links between states' energy requirements and the probability of military conflict. An investigation of these links identifies threats to U.S. national security flowing from other countries' consumption of oil, rather than just U.S. consumption. Furthermore, while many of the security threats associated with Persian Gulf oil have decreased, new oil-driven dangers are emerging in Northeast Asia.

Charles L. Glaser. "How Oil Influences U.S. National Security." International Security, Volume 38, Issue 2, Fall 2013. 112-146. PDF Version 



Video: Stephen Biddle's Talk on U.S. Policy Against the Islamic State

On Monday, December 4 Professor Stephen Biddle unpacked the problems with the U.S. military approach against the Islamic State and presented three options that the U.S. military can choose. If you missed the talk or would like to share it, the video is now available! 

SPS Program Awarded FAO Regional Skill Sustainment Initiative Contract

The Security Policy Studies program, led by Joanna Spear, associate professor of international affairs, was awarded a competitive contract for the Foreign Area Officer (FAO) Regional Skill Sustainment Initiative. This program, beginning in July 2015, will provide FAOs with advanced understanding and analysis of the most current regional security affairs, and the impact of regional activities on interagency and joint operations.

Enhancing U.S. Support for Peace Operations in Africa

In this Council on Foreign Relations Special Report, Paul D. Williams argues that greater U.S. involvement is necessary to enhance the quality and success of peacekeeping missions.