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Jeff Colgan *10 (Photo Courtesy: Jeff Colgan *10)

New book: Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War, by Jeff D. Colgan *10 (Cambridge University Press)

The author: An assistant professor at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C., Colgan studies international security and global energy politics. His article on petro-aggression in the journal International Organization won the Robert O. Keohane Award for the best article published by an untenured scholar. Previously he worked at the World Bank and McKinsey and Company.
The book: This study examines the relationship between oil-exporting nations whose revenue from net oil exports are at least 10 percent of their GDP — which he calls “petrostates” — and aggressive foreign policy. Cogan argues that oil income creates some incentives that increase the chance that a nation will be involved in interstate conflict and other incentives that decrease the likelihood of aggression. The key, he says, is the petrostate’s leader and domestic politics. “When a leader comes to power through a tumultuous domestic revolution … he is much more likely to have aggressive, risk-tolerant, ambitious preferences,” wrote Colgan on the blog New Security Beat. “Oil and revolutionary leaders are a deadly combination.” Petrostates, he writes in the book, “are among the most violent states in the world.”
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Opening lines: “Oil is the single most valuable commodity traded on international markets. The total value of its trade is many multiples larger than the trade of any other natural resource, including natural gas, diamonds, timber, or coffee. Not surprisingly, its political effects are pervasive. Oil helps define the relationship between the Persian Gulf countries and the rest of the world. It underlies the ‘resource curse’ in oil-producing states, the symptoms of which include poor economic growth, authoritarianism, and civil war. … As oil supplies become more difficult to access in the future, the relationship between oil and international security is increasingly important.”