All great powers require steady access to oil to maintain their security, yet they pursue wildly different strategies to obtain it. In some cases, great powers have fought wars for oil, while in other instances, they have allied with oil-exporting countries or simply built strategic petroleum stockpiles to secure supplies. Two causal factors determine the choice of strategy: a state’s petroleum deficit and the vulnerability of its oil imports to forcible disruption.
Rosemary A. Kelanic is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, where her research focuses on international security, coercive diplomacy, energy politics, and US grand strategy. Her book, Black Gold and Blackmail: Oil, Coercive Vulnerability, and Great Power Politics (Cornell University Press, 2020) examines a century’s worth of great power competition over oil and proposes a theory to explain when and why states use aggressive strategies to secure access. Dr. Kelanic earned her PhD in Political Science from The University of Chicago and taught at Williams College for three years before moving to Notre Dame.