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Azerbaijan, Caspian, Caucasus, Central Asia, Energy Diplomacy, Europe, International Relations, Liquefied Natural Gas, Middle East, Pipeline, Russia, SouthernGasCorridor, Turkey

Energy Security Dimension in Foreign Policy


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Today impact of the energy resources and energy security on international relations and foreign policy performance obviously demonstrate itself both politically and economically. Role of the energy resources in 21th century is not same as it is in 19th or 20th century. Notwithstanding, energy resources were utilized only for domestic (lightning) or technical (for cars and military equipments) purposes, the reality of 21th century requires more logical approach to energy resources. After the Cold War and the collapse of Soviet Union, energy security turned out to foreign policy priority of energy-rich, including energy-poor countries. However, the period following 2000s year faced with new “energy boom” in the foreign policies of energy-rich countries and these countries favored from new foreign energy transformation while other countries suffered it. Article gives a broaden information about the role of energy security in the foreign policy of countries.

Energy Dimension of Foreign Policy 

“Energy” means movement, life, and vital need. The main factor which determines the settlement choices of the mankind is an impetus to reach energy resources. Nowadays, the main energy resources are oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. The regions or country containing these resources are always undergone to the military intervention of super powers. As a result of industrial development, energy demand also increased. Today, natural gas turned to prior energy resources, while before the coal (18th century), the oil (beginning of 19th century) and the nuclear energy (mid of 19th century) was at the same position.

Energy independence, control over energy resources and provision of security of the energy transportation routes have a great importance in terms of political independence and national security.” [7] Energy will be the main determinator of the 21th century. Driver of this determinator will be oil and gas. Countries divided into three groups in terms of energy resources: 1. Energy rich countries (Saudi Arabia, Russia, Azerbaijan and etc.) whose economies dependent on energy revenues; 2. Countries with high level of energy consumption (EU countries, US, China, Japan, India and etc.) notwithstanding their own energy resources; 3. Countries with their strategic position (Georgia, Turkey, and etc.) between energy rich countries and energy-dependent countries.” [8]

There are two types of energy resources: primary and secondary energy resources. Primary energy resources also divided into two types: renewable (unconventional) and conventional. Renewable (environmentally friendly) resources (wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, hydropower and tidal) can cover themselves no matter how much they have been spent. Conventional resources (coal, oil, uranium, and natural gas) are the fossil energy resources that cannot cover themselves. Exploration and production of coal is very expensive. The oil is more preferable and quickly depleted energy resource because of its productivity. Uranium is also non-renewable energy resource which used in nuclear energy production. In fact, nuclear energy is the cleanest energy source and it doesn’t damage environment during its production. However, in case of explosion and penetration in Nuclear Power Plants it causes great damages for environment and humanity (e.g. Third Mile Island-1979 and Chernobyl accident-1986) which hard to compensate. There is also strict reaction toward Nuclear Power Plants in community. However, natural gas is an environmentally friendly energy resource which does not pollute the air and nature. Secondary resources are electricity and hydro energy which produced from primary resources.” [9]

Importance of energy raised energy security question and energy security turned to the integral part of the national security of the states. However, it is very difficult to analyze energy security or energy diplomacy without any theoretical background.

According to Hans Morgenthau (the founder of modern realism), military power (or hard power) is an important factor for any nation to be strong in international politics. Hans Morgenthau listed followings elements which compose the elements of hard power: “geography, natural resources, industry capacity, military capacity, population, national identity and moral power, qualified diplomacy and state”. Morgenthau considers energy factor as a main element of hard power and the most effective factor to determine the political power of states.

According to James Dougherty and Robert Pfaltzgraff, military power is not always capable to make government an effective power in the international system and energy security will leave military security in the shadow and will determine the position of government in the international system. According to Michael Klare, energy resources will not only replace the military power, but also will be reason for armed conflicts and States could even use military power in order to own energy resources. For example, the French-Germany War (1870) for Ruhr coal basin, occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany, relations of U.S. with Iran until 1979s, occupation of Iraq by U.S. in 1990 and 2003.

Due to Classic Realism, position of the government in regard to energy resources in the international system depends on conflicts, interests of strong states and mutual interaction among energy exporter, importer and transit countries. In classic realism, governments compete in order to increase their power. Power cannot be always evaluated with material sources, but hard power sometimes requires material elements. Energy rich countries can increase or decrease their energy export in order to expand their influence (e.g. Russia’s energy authority over Ukraine and Belarus).

According to the Kenneth Waltz (the founder of Neo-realism), reason for the rivalry between governments is to gain power, because power provides the security. Power of state is not derived from only energy resources and these resources cannot influence to the manners of states. But, due to Defensive Realism, states don’t seek for power, but for security. According to Fareed Zakaria, increasing of power of the states means the increasing of their securities. However, A. Orban says that, ultimate goal of state is to gain power, not security.

According to John Mearsheimer (the founder of Offensive Realism), there is a lack of security in the international system and therefore, security requires to gain power. Energy resources cannot be more important factor than military power and determinator of the state’s position in the international system and security based on military power. Energy policy reflects only economic power of state, not military power.

Due to Neo-classic Realism, energy resources cannot be part of foreign policy, unless it is not used by the states to realize their goals. [4] Michael Klare says that, after the collapse of ideological conflict between socialism and capitalism, and emergence of new economic powers after the Cold War, international relations completely focused on controlling of natural resources. These resources turned out to rivalry and conflict tools among U.S, Russia, China, EU, Japan, India and other actors. [10]

Energy Security Factor in Foreign Policy 

Energy is the main element for sustainable development in the world. Energy consumption rate of countries gives information about their development. Thus, energy is the crucial element for the development of any country. [2] Because, energy security is the important driver of global economic and political life. The sharp increases in the energy prices will economically leave the energy-depended countries in the lurch. [11]

Energy security is the frequently discussed issue in the contemporary international relations. There are two different approaches toward energy security concept. First one focused on energy, while other focused on security notion. First notion (energy-focused) means availability and accessibility of energy resources, while second notion (security-focused) means provision of physical security of energy exploration, development, production, transportation, distribution, marketing, and consumption network against all types of attacks. To sum up, Energy Security is a supply of energy resources through continuously, reliable, clean, diversified sources and countries on relevant quantities and prices, consumption of energy resources with high-efficiency, transportation of energy resources through secure routes without any threats, and energy efficiency in the world.

After the Industrial Revolution, energy consumption is sharply increased and obtaining of energy resources turned out to main political goals of states. Because, the vast energy resources contributes to the economy of countries, otherwise, lack of energy resources in the country will make them dependent upon energy-rich countries. The role of energy during World War I and II was undeniably crucial. Even, the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC), which constitutes the core of the European Union, were established in order to provide co-existence on energy issues in Europe.

It’s possible to rescue other energy-depended countries from energy hegemony of energy rich countries diversifying energy routes. Diversification of energy routes will make easier to address country to alternative energy resources. For example, electricity production could be provided even with wind energy, instead of natural gas. Internal conflicts, terrorism and monopoly pose a great threat to the energy security.” [12]

Energy security concept is a frequently used term in media and research papers. Its definition limited with only its economic side and majority does not pay attention to the political dimension. However, energy factor was addressed to Europe as political weapon (Mikko Palonkorpi). Another feature of the energy security is the interdependence among states (e.g. Dependence of US and European countries on Persian Gulf and Caspian basin’s energy resources). However, there is not only unilateral dependence, but also interdependence among countries. Because, energy-poor countries buy oil and natural gas to provide the energy supply while energy rich countries tries to enhance the scope of their markets.

According to some analysts, energy resources (natural gas) were used for political purposes. Because, there is not an international market of natural gas as oil has. In this regard, Religious Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomneyi and Russian President, Vladimir Putin intended to establish natural Gas Cartel like OPEC. Another option in energy security is the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG). But, transportation of LNG is more difficult and expensive in comparison with oil.

Energy security also has a great influence to regional balances and historical friendship and hostility relationships. For instance, the biggest goal of Russia being a super power jeopardizes the future of other energy powers and pushes forward for polarization. Because, the majority of hydrocarbon resources concentrated in Russia, Middle East, Caspian Basin and Northern Africa. Therefore, the global energy super power might be four-polar in the future. [6]

Energy security has also a political-military dimension. For instance, Iran uses its energy revenues to donate terrorist and rebel groups (Hamas, Hezbollah) in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, including Iran’s nuclear weapon intentions, Venezuelan-led financing of the rebel groups in Latin America.

Those kinds of initiatives pose a threat to US and its allies. Because, majority of oil reserves condensates in Persian Gulf (Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) and Russia. Therefore, oil exporter countries established OPEC in order to gain control over oil markets and prices. In 1970, International Energy Agency was established in response to the oil embargos by OPEC. [5]

Political results of energy dependence increasing more and more. Under the flag of “War with Terrorism” US kept its military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan for a long time. Suez Crisis (1956), Arab oil embargos (1973), Iran-Iraq war (1980), and two Gulf Wars (1990 and 2003) demonstrated the importance of oil in international relations. Some oil-rich countries (Iran and Venezuela) use oil to secure their authority in the region, as it is a pure evidence of petro-nationalism. During and after Cold War, military and diplomatic presence of U.S. in Middle East, Latin America, South Caucasus and Central Asia directly related to his energy – oil and gas interests. [1] Energy security turned out political issue not in 1970s, but today. Dependence on and import of oil and natural gas continues to increase. Possibly, one might approach to energy security from three points of view: firstly, physically – energy resources depleting; secondly, economically – its prices is increasing; thirdly, politically – energy used as a political tool by some states. [3]

“Energy Resources” is not a “Political Tool”!

The question of “whether energy resources is a political tool or not?” still remains under question. Pretending the being of energy resources as a political tool for government is quite classical approach. Before, I was also thinking in same way. However, after long-run analysis I changed my hypothesis. Leaving my old hypothesis “energy resources is a political tool” behind, I would like to talk about my new hypothesis titled “Rational Management of Energy Resources is a Political Tool”. How? Let’s see:

First of all, owning vast field of energy resources is not always indicator of being powerful and being energy power. In this regards, we can compare Saudi Arabia and Russia. Both countries own huge oil reserves or Russia and Turkmenistan, while both own huge natural gas reserves. While analyzing their energy policy, we notice that their economic and political dividends are not the same. Some energy-rich countries sell their energy resources just to get profit, while others also tries to meet their political interests, to develop their domestic (and foreign) energy infrastructure, to attract investment in their countries, to gain the political leverages over some neighbor countries and etc. In a nutshell, no matter how much energy resources your country owns? Without good decision-making and coordinating energy policy you are not able to achieve all those.

Secondly, one should not forget about the role of geography in energy policy. The role of geography have been even proved by dozen of scholars and theories (e.g. Hans Morgenthau). Without favorable geographical position, it might be very hard to construct the pipelines which I consider them “the veins of energy diplomacy”. Today, Russia still has a problem with its mountainous geography which prevent the construction of Russian-Chinese pipelines, while has suitable geographical opportunities to transport its energy resources to Europe or elsewhere. Or if there would be the high range of mountains the place of Black and Baltic Sea, could Russia even talk about the construction of Nord or South Streams? Unlikely! Consequently, Russia would be much more dependent on its neighbors in terms of transit problems.

Third point, which really deserves an attention from my opinion, is the financial challenges or just money. Actually, financial dimension serves the top place of those factors. Because, without financial assistance you cannot attract other resources (labor force, feasibility studies, technical/constructional preparations, juridical/institutional issues and etc.) in order to carry out country’s energy policy. Some pipeline projects really suffer of lack of enough financial support, which their implementation still is surfing on negotiations tables.

Fourth point, which considered the painful side of all countries are political conflicts between neighbor countries, which hamper the energy policy as well. Frozen conflicts, territorial disputes, prices settings, foreign policy orientation of some countries, integration initiatives and etc. might be include in this framework.

Conclusion

To sum up, through rational management of energy resources, any country can overcome those challenges. Imagine it as chessboard. You put all the figures on their places and then you are thinking about how to move those figures to make good tactics. “Checkmate” in energy-policy-board depends on your strategic thinking and policy/decision-making ability. Consequently, energy resources are just a complementary element (or chess figures) of energy policy which might not be considered separately as a foreign policy tool.

Bibliography

  1.  Alexander Betts, Matthew Eagleton-Pierce and Anne Roemer-Mahler, “The International Politics of Oil”, St Antony’s International Review, Vol.2, Number.1, May, 2006.
  2. Atasay Ozdemir, “Evaluation of Natural gas in the Context of its Impportance for World, European Union and Turkey”, Journal of Security Strategies, Institute for Strategic Studies, Printing House of Military Academies, Istanbul, December, 2009, Vol.5, Number 10.
  3. Dag Harald Claes, “Global Energy Security: Resource Availability, Economic Conditions and Political Constraints”, 7th Pan-European International Relations Conference Journal, September, 2010.
  4. Giedrius Česnakas, “Energy Resources in Foreign Policy: a Theoretical Approach”, Baltic Journal of Law and Politics, Vol.3, Number 1, 2010.
  5. John Deutch, “Oil and Gas Energy Security Issues”, National Energy Policy Institute, Washington, June, 2010.
  6. Mikko Palonkorpi, “Energy Security and the Regional Security Complex Theory”, Aleksanteri Institute / University of Helsinki.
  7. Mustafa Kibaroglu, “Influence of Energy Resources and Transportation Roads to International Security”, Military Academies Command, Armed Forces Academy (Symposium Speech),  Istanbul, speech given on 16 January 2004.
  8. “New Multi-Sided Expansion of Turkey in Energy”, Institute for Strategic Studies, Istanbul, August, 2009.
  9. Omer Akdogan, “Impact of Energy Policy of Russia onto Energy Security of European Union”, Department of International Relations at the University of Trakia, (Master Thesis), Edirne, 2008.
  10. Roland Dannreuther, “International Relations Theories: Energy, Minerals and Conflict”, POLINARES, EU Policy on Natural Resources, September, 2010.
  11. Tamer Chetin, “The Political Economy of Energy in Central Asia and the Caucasus”, Energy, Market and Regulatory Journal, Society of Energy Professionals, Vol.1, Number 1, 2010.
  12. Yazgan Erbil, “Russian-Ukrainian Gas Crisis and Energy Security”, Kadir Khas University, International Relations and Globalization, (Master Thesis), Istanbul, 2010.

You can find original article at: http://www.strategicoutlook.org/philosophy/news-energy-security-dimension-in-foreign-policy.html#.UOnTV7uOz3Y.facebook

 

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