“Safety and certainty in oil lie in variety and variety alone”[1]

Winston Churchill


A famous doctrine of classical geopolitics goes: “Who controls Eurasia, (Heartland) eventually, he will be able to run the world”. Subsequently, however, changing circumstances have been shaping and reorganizing foreign policies and political interests of states. Hence, a new dogma has summed up the tectonic changes in global politics: “Who possesses energy resources sooner or later he can put the world under his control.[2]

In today’s globalized world, maintenance of energy security constantly remains on the agenda of states: the pivotal impact of energy on both national security and foreign policy is universally recognized. Therefore, they can be considered an indispensable “triangle” within the states’ policy frameworks. In order to realize the importance of energy security, it could be  helpful to trace the issue back in time.

In the eve of the World War I, First Lord of Admiralty, Sir Winston Churchill made a historical move transferring the major source of fuel for the British Navy from Welsh coal to oil having in mind making the Royal armada much faster than its German counterpart. This historical switch to oil meant that not only did the Royal navy cease to depend on Welsh coal, but the diversification of supply as a fundamental principle of energy security was for the first time clearly expressed.[3] As a consequence of this historically important decision, today national security, in particular, homeland security is very strongly tied to the energy factor. Ever since Churchill, energy security has been the number one issue on the agenda of states strive to the whose fervent interests of states over energy undeniably became even more salient amid the World War II. As a result, the major powers and allies lacking meaningful resources strived to gain access to wealthy energy basins in particular areas: Middle East, Caspian Sea and Romania.[4] Indeed, the key concerns consisted of gaining broad access to energy-rich areas in order to ensure their energy demands and hence to solidify national security standings.  After the two devastating global wars, control over energy came to be used as an effective response to military power.

Immense concerns over energy security began with the 1973-1974 Arab-Israel War and the foundation of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Throughout that period, OPEC using the energy factor as a strategic weapon imposed an oil boycott against major energy-importing countries and suspended the export of oil to the West, mainly European countries and the U.S. Afterwards, the West, in particular the U.S comprehended the crucial power of energy and prioritized the maintenance and rational usage of energy supplies.[5] The boycott was a strategic lesson for the West and caused an “energy syndrome” spurring them to try to adequately secure the energy supplies for the purposes of both their internal and external policy. Hence, to provide energy security means to preserve national security and to ensure the security of both of them defines the rational implementation of foreign policy. In today’s world, large-scale access to energy resources at affordable cost in order to uphold energy security is one of the vital national interests of states (as a key example the U.S, Russia, China and etc).

Energy and national security have always been closely linked. As a key example, after the 1990s the homeland security of the U.S has been based on providing energy security and diversification of energy supplies. During his term in the Oval Cabinet, Bill Clinton considered energy security a main issue of the U.S foreign policy.[6] Today, the energy issue does not have to be restricted to oil any more since the diversification of energy supplies and large-scale access to alternative energy resources can lessen or prevent the future distortion of energy supplies. Recently, increasing diversification of materials has been especially emphasized worldwide: a rapid rise of liquefied natural gas (LNG) is first of all due to considerations over boosting security of supply.  Within the framework of energy security states can also gain access to the renewable or alternative energy sources as well. For instance, for upcoming years, up to 2020, LNG could constitute 25 to 30 % of total gas spending of the US, compared to 3 % in 2004.[7]

Energy security is utterly important for each state in terms of ensuring its national security. In this way, states strive to take strategic steps and involve far more investments in their countries in order to cater for their national security needs. Fundamentally, in order to provide energy security and self-sufficiency, each state should take crucially strategic measures such as setting up new alliances, fortifying collective energy security, stating its interests with energy-exported countries, in particular, the rise of state power in energy.

It is an ostensible fact that nation states should take into account the future threats to their national security that comes from the concentration of energy resources. Currently, we are observing different kinds of challenges to national security that prevent countries from taking major steps regarding energy resources. These challenges are not limited to terrorism, social and economic turmoil, political crisis, armed disputes, and piracy. For instance, natural disasters, such as the hurricanes named Katrina and Rita also engender huge damage and disruptions in the flows of energy resources as well.

What does the energy security mean for the major states?! - To date, energy means “security of demand” for the energy-exporting countries and they try to maintain the sufficient demand within their policy. Energy security implies varied interests and intentions among different countries, but on the whole, it has to be attuned to national security and foreign policy.

For the U.S., energy security means the ensuring of diversification of energy supplies and adequate access to a new global market in order to maintain homeland security. For Russia, the main aim is to implement state control over energy resources, attain the prime role over the main energy pipelines and demonstrate its strategic role in the global market environment. China tries to controls access to what is basically the largest possible market for its energy products in terms of reaching the sufficient stage of economic development. From the standpoint of Japan, the prevention of scarcity of domestic resources through investment, trade and diversification of supply is the pivotal policy. The main aim of the Europe is how to reduce the reliance on gas resources and how to convert the gas resources into new coal technology as in previous times.[8] Nowadays, the conception of energy security has to be extended to involve the defense of energy supply chain and energy infrastructure on the agenda of states. Because of the fact that the growing balance of energy interdependence and the energy trade put important duties in front of both energy-exporting and importing countries in order to secure both the energy supply chain and global energy marketplace.

According to Jan H. Kalicki and David L. Goldwyn’s standpoint, the energy security is based on a set of key principles. The first principle subjects to the diversification of energy supplies that can be achieved by broad access to alternative energy sources and then the establishment of new-fangled energy platforms and infrastructures in order to develop them sufficiently. Therefore, diversification of energy resources is paramount both for energy security as well as for competitiveness. The second crucial point premises on the creation of far more stable and well-functioning energy market in order to sell energy products at affordable prices. Hence, maintaining the stability of the global market can enhance the accessibility and affordability of energy products both for consumers and exporters. The third pillarr rests on the so-called “security margin”, that is  a planned constant level of spare capacity of the fuel necessary  to prevent  disruption in energy supply  and secure the energy infrastructure in case of emergency . The fourth principle mainly concerns the essential role of high-quality information that can strengthen well-functioning and flexible energy markets. For example, the International Energy Agency (IEA) leads the way in terms of delivering of speedy and neat information flows between consumers and exporters within the international energy market. The fifth principle refers to the implementation of research and development (R&D) and innovative breakthroughs for the sake of ensuring energy flexibility. The others focus on the creation of supportive and transparent relations between energy-exporting and importing countries, technology-driven energy industry giving way to a new generation of energy resources as a means of ensuring energy security and etc.[9] Hence, some scholars view energy security, national security and foreign policy as the three sides l of the crucial “triangle” in international political economy.    

Briefly, within the contemporary world order, energy security is considered a focal engine of national security and foreign policy. The immense demand for energy necessitates access to stable and flexible market with affordable prices which could create a more competitive environment between energy importers and exporters. In a world of growing interdependence, energy security depends largely on the level of bilateral and multilateral relations within the society of states. Indeed, energy is a lifeblood of the modern state not only for their survival and well-being but also as a guarantor of their national, regional and global security.




[1] Energy & Security: Toward a new foreign policy strategy, edited by Jan H. Kalicki and David L. Goldwyn, Published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington, D.C, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2005, pp-51-53; URL: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/book/energy-and-security-toward-new-foreign-policy-strategy

[2] Dünya siyasəti, (The world policy), by Agalar Abbasbayli, Rashad Sadigov, Baku State University, Baku-2010, pp- 257-258; URL: https://e-book.az/online/1115-dunya-siyaseti-xx-esrin-ikinci-yarisi-xxi-esrin-evvelleri-a-n-abbasbeyli

[3] Ensuring Energy Security: Old questions, new answers, Foreign Affairs, Volume 85, No. 2, Daniel Yergin, pp- 69-70 URL: http://www.un.org/ga/61/second/daniel_yergin_energysecurity.pdf

[4] The three perspectives on energy security: intellectual history, disciplinary roots and the potential for integration, by Aleh Cherp and Jessica Jewell, Science Direct, ELSEVIER, pp-1-2 URL: http://lup.lub.lu.se/luur/download?func=downloadFile&recordOId=2270259&fileOId=4239057 

[5] Energy, Security, and Foreign Policy by Özgür Özdamar University of Economics and Technology, Ankara, 10 December, 2009, pp-1-3, URL: http://ozgur.bilkent.edu.tr/download/14Energy,%20Security,%20and%20Foreign%20Policy.pdf

[6] Tikkun Magazine, March/April 2001, Clinton’s Environmental Legacy, article by Paul Wapner, URL:  http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/clintons-environmental-legacy 

[7] Energy & Security: Toward a new foreign policy strategy, edited by Jan H. Kalicki and David L. Goldwyn, Published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington, D.C, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2005, pp-58-60 URL: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/book/energy-and-security-toward-new-foreign-policy-strategy

[8] Ensuring Energy Security: Old questions, new answers, Foreign Affairs, Volume 85, No. 2, Daniel Yergin, pp-70-71 URL: http://www.un.org/ga/61/second/daniel_yergin_energysecurity.pdf

[9] Energy & Security: Toward a new foreign policy strategy, edited by Jan H. Kalicki and David L. Goldwyn, Published by Woodrow Wilson Center Press, Washington, D.C, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 2005, pp-53-60; URL: https://www.wilsoncenter.org/book/energy-and-security-toward-new-foreign-policy-strategy