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Oil, Illiberalism, and War


Liberal internationalism holds that the US is a benign hegemon that guarantees security and underwrites the functioning of international institutions.  The economic connections that the US has fostered, according to this perspective, help keep the peace among states; the high costs of war help restrain them.  At the same time, many recognize the possibility of conflict over scarce resources such as oil – a pillar of the global economy.  What impact have these two competing lines of logic had on US foreign policy, and how have those policy choices impacted the international system?  The author offers a pessimistic reformulation of liberal theory based on observations of the international oil market and the US’s behavior on behalf of energy security.

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About the author:  Andrew Price-Smith is Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Colorado College.  He is the author of several other books including Contagion and Chaos: Disease, Ecology and National Security in the Era of Globalization (MIT Press, 2009); The Health of Nations (MIT Press, 2002); and Plagues and Politics (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2001).  Prof. Price-Smith has testified on climate change, disease, and international security before the U.S. House Science and Technology Committee, and acted as advisor for the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, and the US Department of Defense.