Why do some states project military force to seek control of resources, while others do not? Conventional wisdom asserts that resource-scarce states should have the strongest interest in securing control over resources. Counter-intuitively, I argue that, under existing conditions, the opposite is true. It is not resource-scarce states that will be more interested in militarily seeking additional resources, but rather states that are resource-abundant and dependent on income from extracting those resources. I test this proposition by leveraging a natural experiment that analyzes how states reacted to an exogenous shock that exposed resources in the Arctic in 2007. I employ original data that measures the change in states’ Arctic military presence before and after the shock. I find that dependence, not scarcity, explains how states responded to the shock. The findings enhance our understanding of the causes of resource competition and the geopolitical implications of climate change.
Jonathan Markowitz is an Assistant Professor in the Political Science and International Relations Department at the University of Southern California where he is also a Co-Founder and Co-PI of both the Security and Political Economy Lab and East Asia Grand Strategy Program. His research focuses on how economics shape what foreign goals states adopt and whether they pursue those interests by investing in projecting military power. He is the author of Perils of Plenty: Arctic Resource Competition and the Return of the Great Game (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press 2020). He has also published broadly on issues related to the political economy of security including power projection, grand strategy, great power conflict, the political implications of climate change, and resource competition. This work has been published in International Studies Quarterly, The Journal of Peace Research, and Journal of Conflict Resolution, among other journals. Jonathan obtained his PhD in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, in 2014.
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