PS: Political Science & Politics

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Oil, Revolution, and International Conflict: A Toxic Mix

Jeff Colgana1

a1 Princeton University

What is the relationship between oil and international conflict? In an era of increased dependence on, and greater volatility within, global markets for oil and energy, this question is central to understanding contemporary world politics. It is an empirical fact that petrostates—defined as states that have at least 10% of GDP derived from oil exports—are more prone to international conflict than non-petrostates. Indeed, in the period 1965–2001, petrostates engaged in militarized interstate disputes at roughly twice the rate of non-petrostates, on average. What explains this propensity?

Jeff Colgan is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University, focusing on oil politics and international security. His dissertation is entitled “Oil, Revolution, and International Conflict: Explaining Aggressive Foreign Policy Among Petrostates.” Jeff's current work focuses on the correlation between international conflict and petrostates. While at the Centennial Center, Jeff continued his case studies of Libya and Venezuela by interviewing foreign officials and interacting with academics at Georgetown University and elsewhere. His stay was funded by the James Bryce Fund for International Political Science.