Oil and World Politics

The real story of today's conflict zones: Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ukraine and more

by John Foster

Petroleum is at the root of most conflicts in the world today. It infiltrates politics and is closely associated with power. This book offers new understanding of what has been happening in world's "hot spot" countries.

Petroleum is the most valuable commodity in the world and an enormous source of wealth for those who sell it, transport it and transform it for its many uses. As the engine of modern economies and industries, governments everywhere want to assure steady supplies. Without it, their economies would grind to a standstill.

Since petroleum is not evenly distributed around the world, powerful countries want to be sure they have access to supplies and markets, whatever the cost to the environment or to human life. Coveting the petroleum of another country is against the rules of international law — yet if accomplished surreptitiously, under the cover of some laudable action, it's a bonanza. This is the basis of "the petroleum game," where countries jockey for control of the world's oil and natural gas. It's an ongoing game of rivalry among global and regional countries, each pursuing its own interests and using whatever tools, allies and organizations offer possible advantage.

John Foster has spent his working life as an oil economist. He understands the underlying role played by oil and gas in international affairs. He identifies the hidden issues behind many of the conflicts in the world today. He explores military interventions (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria), tensions around international waterways (Persian Gulf, South China Sea), and use of sanctions or political interference related to petroleum trade (Iran, Russia, Venezuela). He illuminates the petroleum-related reasons for government actions usually camouflaged and rarely discussed publicly by Western politicians or media.

Petroleum geopolitics are complex. When clashes and conflicts occur, they are multi-dimensional. This book ferrets out pieces of the multi-faceted puzzle in the dark world of petroleum and fits them together.

About the Author

John Foster
JOHN FOSTER is an energy economist who has worked for 40 years in policy and economic issues relating to infrastructure and petroleum. While working at the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, Petro-Canada and BP group, he witnessed first-hand the impact petroleum geopolitics in more than 30 countries around the world. Today he gives talks on petroleum rivalries and conflicts at universities and trade union and public meetings across Canada. He is the author of the research paper A Pipeline Through a Troubled Land, published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, and contributor to the book Afghanistan and Canada: Is there an Alternative to War? He lives in Kingston, Ontario.


John Foster has chosen to take one mighty big bull by its globe-encircling horns ... Foster has written a book that draws road maps of why American and European oil companies would benefit from managed political outcomes.
Jim Scott, Esprit de Corps
It's not the first time someone has examined the role of black gold in world affairs, but Canadian energy economist John Foster does so in clear, engaging language, drawing on his own considerable global experience, to shine light on some key conflicts — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine — using the lens of oil.
Diplomat and International Magazine
"A key text for understanding of oil and global politics."
Canadian Military History

Subjects (BISAC)


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