Chapter 2 Natural resources in international politics
The Political Economy of Conflict and Cooperation
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Chapter 2 develops a framework to theorise the role of natural resources in international politics. It reviews existing IR approaches, identifying their bias towards systemic theorising as a problem which obscures the distinctive political economy dynamics surrounding resource interdependence. It then develops the theoretical argument that the securitisation of resource policy is the factor explaining the likelihood of international conflict. Securitisation is a conceptualised as a variable process, contingent on economic dynamics (namely, world market cycles) and political factors specific to certain states (such as external dependence, rentier institutions and complicating geopolitical relationships). When these securitising pressures are high, governments respond with economic nationalist policies. This encourages rivalrous behaviour and creates an environment prone to inter-state conflict. Conversely, when securitising tendencies are low, governments are less likely to adopt nationalistic policies. This instead enables forms of cooperative behaviour, by augmenting markets and enabling cooperation for shared energy goals. Securitisation is therefore the variable which determines whether international resource politics is conflictual or cooperative.

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