Title Black Gold and Blackmail: Oil and Great Power Politics
Author Rosemary A. Kelanic
ISBN 9781501748295
List price USD 39.95
Price outside India Available on Request
Original price
Binding Hardbound
No of pages 234
Book size 153 x 229 mm
Publishing year 2020
Original publisher Cornell University Press (Combined Academic Publishers)
Published in India by .
Exclusive distributors Viva Books Private Limited
Sales territory India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, .
Status New Arrival
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“Rose Kelanic has written the definitive book on the politics of oil coercion among great powers. Lucidly composed and provocatively argued, her theory of “anticipatory strategies” reveals the various ways states seek to neutralize the oil threat—sometimes even undertaking wars to do so. In the process, Black Gold and Blackmail illuminates oil’s essential role in international relations. Kelanic’s book ensures we will all be paying a lot more attention to oil politics in the future.”

Risa Brooks, Marquette University, author of Shaping Strategy

“For more than a century oil has been central to international security, yet scholars have struggled to understand its impact in systematic ways.  Rosemary Kelanic’s theory of strategic anticipation helps fill that gap while challenging conventional explanations of recent great power behavior in the shadow of war.”

John Duffield, Georgia State University, author of Over a Barrel and Fuels Paradise


Black Gold and Blackmail seeks to explain why great powers adopt such different strategies to protect their oil access from politically motivated disruptions. In extreme cases, such as Imperial Japan in 1941, great powers fought wars to grab oil territory in anticipation of a potential embargo by the Allies; in other instances, such as Germany in the early Nazi period, states chose relatively subdued measures like oil alliances or domestic policies to conserve oil. What accounts for this variation? Fundamentally, it is puzzling that great powers fear oil coercion at all because the global market makes oil sanctions very difficult to enforce.

Rosemary A. Kelanic argues that two variables determine what strategy a great power will adopt: the petroleum deficit, which measures how much oil the state produces domestically compared to what it needs for its strategic objectives; and disruptibility, which estimates the susceptibility of a state’s oil imports to military interdiction—that is, blockade. Because global markets undercut the effectiveness of oil sanctions, blockade is in practice the only true threat to great power oil access. That, combined with the devastating consequences of oil deprivation to a state’s military power, explains why states fear oil coercion deeply despite the adaptive functions of the market.

Together, these two variables predict a state’s coercive vulnerability, which determines how willing the state will be to accept the costs and risks attendant on various potential strategies. Only those great powers with large deficits and highly disruptible imports will adopt the most extreme strategy: direct control of oil through territorial conquest.



Introduction: The Ubiquity of Oil

Chapter 1. A Theory of Strategic Anticipation

Chapter 2. Oil and Military Effectiveness

Chapter 3. Qualitative Methods for Testing the Theory

Chapter 4. British Vulnerability and the Conquest of Mesopotamia

Chapter 5. The Oil Strategies of Nazi Germany

Chapter 6. American Efforts to Avoid Vulnerability

Chapter 7. Empirical Tests with Fuzzy-Set QCA

Conclusion: Oil and the Future of Great Power Politics



About the Author:

Rosemary A. Kelanic is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame, and co-editor of Crude Strategy.

Target Audience:

People interested in the political and military aspects of the petroleum industry.


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