Apr 16, 2009

Book Review: "Energy & International War: From Babylon to Baghdad & Beyond"

The author presents a somewhat academic description of the role played by access to (both fossil fuel and other mineral) resources in international conflicts. Not withstanding the numerous typos, the book is interesting from a historic as well as future-energy policy standpoint. For example, the author describes how access to the iron and coal-rich Alsace-Lorraine region shaped the frontline positions during WW I, how the conversion of British naval fleet from coal to oil gave them an advantage over the Germans before WW I, how the inferiority of the German Fischer-Tropsch aviation fuel contributed to their defeat in the Battle of Britain during WW II, and how Japanese pre-war thinking was heavily influenced by access to energy and mineral resources in south east Asia. On a more contemporary note, the author examines the current war in Iraq and presents some interesting conclusions. Additionally, natural gas, uranium and renewables markets are also explored in a similar vein. French foreign policy towards uranium-producing countries in Africa, and its role in civil/international regional conflicts is discussed. The author notes that after being assured of a dependable world supply for uranium, French policy has undergone a sea-change. The author discusses natural gas markets and the relations of the biggest supplier (Russia) with its former client states and Western European consumers.
The author notes that the European Union evolved from the European Coal and Steel Community, which was established to prevent future wars between France and Germany. One theme expressed in this book is that energy rarely is the main driver for international conflict, however, access to energy resources does play a role in shaping them, or as in WW I and II, influences their eventual outcomes.

1 comment:

Job Engineer said...

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