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The Oil Wars MythPetroleum and the Causes of International Conflict$
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Emily Meierding

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501748288

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501748288.001.0001

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Searching for Classic Oil Wars

Searching for Classic Oil Wars

(p.61) 4 Searching for Classic Oil Wars
The Oil Wars Myth

Emily Meierding

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines over six hundred militarized interstate disputes (MIDs) in order to determine whether oil ambitions motivate militarized conflict. It provides evidence of classic oil wars, in which severe militarized interstate conflicts are driven largely by participants' desire to obtain petroleum resources. It also points out how MIDs in oil-endowed territories were either very minor or motivated by other issues. The chapter introduces four new categories of conflict: oil spats, red herrings, oil campaigns, and oil gambits. It explains that oil spats are minor confrontations driven by petroleum ambitions, such as China and Vietnam's 2014 confrontation over a drilling rig in the South China Sea. It also describes red herrings, which are not fought for oil, but instead, aggressors are motivated predominantly by aspirations to political independence or regional hegemony.

Keywords:   militarized interstate disputes, oil spats, red herrings, oil campaigns, oil gambits, oil ambitions, militarized conflict, oil wars, petroleum resources, oil-endowed territories

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