Share this
PREVIOUS ARTICLE ALL CONTENTS Next ARTICLE

Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy, Robert Vitalis

Reviewed by Paul Musgrave

BUY

 

The most memorable slogan to emerge from the 2003 U.S. war against Iraq was the chant “no war for oil.” Robert Vitalis concurs, up to a point. A serious and inventive scholar, Vitalis’s recent works have included fascinating histories of the creation of the oil industry and the U.S.-Saudi relationship and, separately, of how race and racism shaped the emergence of international relations. Never one to shy from controversy, Vitalis turns his mix of careful historical studies, scholarly iconoclasm, and vituperation in Oilcraft to the myth that rivalries for control of oil determine world politics. Protesters may have meant that there ought not to be wars for oil, but Vitalis asserts that there are not wars for oil.

Claims that oil drives major events and trends in international relations proliferate in protests, stump speeches, and left-wing journalism. These claims form the strands of exceptionalist, commodity-driven narratives that Vitalis terms “oilcraft,” which he defines by an analogy not to statecraft but to witchcraft: “a modern-day form of magical realism” (p. 6). This myth, Vitalis argues, persists because it supplies a narrative that meets the political needs of activists and politicians—and the th

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

About PSQ's Editor

ROBERT Y. SHAPIRO

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

CONFERENCES & EVENTS

Jeh Johnson on the State of American Democracy
Click below to read the transcript or watch the recording.

MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT VIEW ALL EVENTS

Editor’s spotlight

The Powell Doctrine

The Rise and Fall of Colin Powell and the Powell Doctrine
Walter LaFeber

MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS