Posted by: bklunk | April 18, 2007

I Just Like the Map

Well, maybe that was a bit flippant. The blogger says something useful about realist-liberal differences.

United Through Resource Depletion « Who Cares About International Relations?

Beyond for the on-going strife towards bringing gas prices back down, environmental issues have become great debate among people. One of the greatest concerns is that one day the exploitation of the world will lead the the depletion of all natural resources. We are not yet at that time but it does look close. As mentioned on a news article on the Economist (click here) the EU has become concern on the riskiness of using oil imported from Russia, a land filled will natural resources. Currently, the EuropeanUnion imports half of all its gas from Russia. New state members such as Hungary depend almost entirely on these gas imports. Thus, this gives Russia much influence in the realm of geopolitics. Since it also has control of a pipeline network that gives it almost full control on imported gas from Asia, Russia is able to control a huge global oil market. Russia becomes a great influence in the world solely through its political tool of energy. As mentioned in the article, “Kremlin needs three things: control over Russian energy reserves and production, control over the pipelines snaking across its territory and that of its neighbours, and long-term contracts with European customers that are hard to break. All three are in place.”This creates for Russia the ability for great power as it is capable of creating a strong military and fund for it through gas exports. Being so, The EU must figure out a way to avoid be pressured by Russia and still be able to have day to day trade. But because Russian pipelines run up and down Europe, little can be done. Russia plans to create more pipelines in Europe and studies show that with this, dependence on the EU from European states will move to dependence on Russia. One of the biggest concerns lay on UN’s creation of a pipeline called Nabucco that would supply Hungary with oil from Turkey. This pipeline conflicts with the Russia own goal of also extending its pipelines as it wants to extend existing pipelines to Hungary as well, eliminating the need of the EU to help supply Hungary with oil.

Though resource depletion usually causes states to fight for resources, it causes the unity of the states involved – big states at least. From a liberal perspective, this is good for everyone as there are “absolute gains” for the states involved. Everyone becomes a winner. Russia is able to gain profit and alliances, while the EU gains the trust of states in need of oil. Overall, this creates a globalization of states as they are all connected through the oil market. This can lead to more communication and more unity in European states, as Russia is helping out their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors, with the EU operating trade agreements. This is of course a optimistic view of EU’s oil trade with Russia.

When looking at this issue from a realist’s point of view, the whole story is changed. From a realist perspective, the only winner will be Russia as they are able to gain the most RELATIVE to other states. So by looking at relative gains rather than absolute gains, the trade between Russia and the EU must have some changes. With Russia supply half the imported oil, Russia now has great influence in Europe, especially now since there is a depletion of oil. Being that Russia is able to supply members states of the EU directly with oil through their pipes, this causes these states to become even more so dependant on Russia and less so on the EU in conducting these trades. Such an example is the conflicting Russian pipelines to Hungary and EU’s Nabucco. The EU then loses more and gains less in these trades relative to that of Russia. And so, though resource depletion will create a sense of unity among European States, this unity might only be that of the metal pipelines.

The major oil pipelines in Europe

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