Thursday, May 14, 2009

Energy Security vs. Strategic Insecurity

A followup to the other day's post about the Nabucco pipeline project. At the heart of the project lies the increasingly important policy question of “energy security” – how countries can secure diverse sources, particularly of oil and natural gas, and diverse supply routes. One of my concerns is how to keep the search for energy security from becoming an adversarial and short-sighted one that will only lead towards greater insecurity.

As the Associated Press reports, a new Kremlin "National Security Strategy" paper puts battles over energy resources as one of the major challenges facing Russia. From the report:
A Kremlin policy paper says international relations will be shaped by battles over energy resources, which may trigger military conflicts on Russia's borders....

"....The international policy in the long run will be focused on getting hold of energy sources, including in the Middle East, the Barents Sea shelf and other Arctic regions, the Caspian and Central Asia," said the strategy paper that was posted on the presidential Security Council's Web site.

"Amid competitive struggle for resources, attempts to use military force to solve emerging problems can't be excluded," it added. "The existing balance of forces near the borders of the Russian Federation and its allies can be violated."
The Kremlin's thinking certainly seems in line with what's being considered in the United States and Europe. I recently came across a 2008 article entitled “The Militarization of Energy Security,” which appeared in an online journal published by the  Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and was written James A. Russell and Daniel Moran, lecturers at the school. “It is in the energy sector that strategic planners now find it easiest to imagine major states reconsidering their reluctance to use force against each other," the authors wrote.

"‘Energy security’ is now deemed so central to ‘national security’ that threats to the former are liable to be reflexively interpreted as threats to the latter. In a world in which territorial disputes, ideological competition, ethnic irredentism, and even nuclear proliferation all seem capable of being normalized in ways that constrain the actual use of military force, a crisis in global energy supply stands out as the last all-weather casus belli when the moment comes to hypothesize worst-case scenarios.”

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