Oil Wars: Facts and Fictions | 2021 | Events

Oil Wars: Facts and Fictions
Emily Meierding
Emily Meierding
Naval Postgraduate School
May 5, 2021


Do countries fight wars for oil? Given the resource’s exceptional military and economic importance, most people assume that states will do anything to obtain it. In The Oil Wars Myth (Cornell University Press, 2020), Emily Meierding challenges this conventional wisdom by demonstrating that countries do not launch major conflicts to acquire petroleum resources. Instead, the costs of foreign invasion, territorial occupation, international retaliation, and damage to oil company relations deter even the most powerful countries from initiating “classic oil wars.” Examining a century of interstate violence, she demonstrates that, at most, countries have engaged in mild sparring to advance their petroleum ambitions. The Oil Wars Myth elaborates on these findings by reassessing the presumed oil motives for many of the twentieth century’s most prominent international conflicts: World War II, the two American Gulf wars, the Iran–Iraq War, the Falklands/Malvinas War, and the Chaco War.


Emily Meierding is an Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. Previously, she was an Assistant Professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland, and a predoctoral fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. Her book, The Oil Wars Myth: Petroleum and the Causes of International Conflict, was published by Cornell University Press in 2020. She is currently working on a project examining how low oil prices affect petrostate stability. Her work has been published in Security Studies, the International Studies Review, Energy Research & Social Science, Lawfare, and Foreign Policy. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago.