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An oil war is a conflict about petroleum resources, or their transportation, consumption, or regulation. The term may also refer generally to any conflict in a region that contains oil reserves or is geographically positioned in a location where an entity has or may wish to develop production or transportation infrastructure for petroleum products. It is also used to refer to any of a number of specific oil wars.
Research by Emily Meierding has characterized oil wars as largely a myth. She argues that proponents of oil wars underestimate the ability to seize and exploit foreign oil fields, and thus exaggerate the value of oil wars. She has examined four cases commonly described as oil wars (Japan's attack on the Dutch East Indies in World War II, Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay), finding that control of additional oil resources was not the main cause of aggression in the conflicts.
On April 5, 2021, United States vice president Kamala Harris mentioned “For years there were wars fought over oil; in a short time there will be wars fought over water”, in a talk in Oakland to promote the American Jobs Plan.
List of wars described as oil wars
- During World War I (1914–1918), certain operations were planned specifically to secure oil resources.
- Chaco War (1932–1935)
- World War II (1939–1945):
- Events leading to the attack on Pearl Harbor (1941–1945)
- Biafran War, also known as the Nigerian Civil War (1967–1970)
- Wars related to Saddam Hussein
- Conflict in the Niger Delta (2004–present)
- Heglig Crisis, South Sudan–Sudan border conflict (2012)
- Petrodollar warfare
- Petroleum politics
- Resource curse
- Resource war
- 1973 oil crisis
- Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict
- Territorial disputes in the South China Sea
- Meierding, Emily (2020-05-15). The Oil Wars Myth: Petroleum and the Causes of International Conflict. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-1-5017-4895-0.
- Meierding, Emily (2016-04-02). "Dismantling the Oil Wars Myth". Security Studies. 25 (2): 258–288. doi:10.1080/09636412.2016.1171968. ISSN 0963-6412. S2CID 147849960.
- "Vice President Kamala Harris Warns Of Looming 'Wars Fought Over Water'". 2021-04-05. Retrieved 2021-04-11.
- Timothy C. Winegard (2016). The First World Oil War. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press.
- "Oil led to Pearl Harbor". Salon. 5 December 2013.
- Brogan, Patrick (1998). World Conflicts: A Comprehensive Guide to World Strife Since 1945. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN 9780810835511.
- "Iraq Sanctions: Humanitarian Implications and Options for the Future". Global Policy Forum. August 6, 2002.
The United States and the United Kingdom, who use their veto power to prolong the sanctions, bear special responsibility for the UN action. No-fly zones, periodic military attacks, and threats of regime-change block peaceful outcomes, as do vilification of Saddam Hussein, pro-sanctions propaganda, and other politicization of the crisis. Though real concerns about Iraq's security threat undoubtedly are legitimate, commercial interests, especially control over Iraq's oil resources, appear to be a driving force behind much of the policy making.
- Juhasz, Antonia (15 April 2013). "Why the war in Iraq was fought for Big Oil". CNN.