Crude conspiracy theories could be right, study shows

January 27, 2015
A pumpjack in Texas. Image: Wikipedia.

Researchers have for the first time provided strong evidence for what conspiracy theorists have long thought - oil is often the reason for interfering in another country's war.

Throughout recent history, countries which need oil have found reasons to interfere in countries with a good supply of it and, the researchers argue, this could help explain the US interest in ISIS in northern Iraq.

Researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, Warwick and Essex modelled the decision-making process of third-party countries in interfering in civil wars and examined their economic motives.

They found that the decision to interfere was dominated by the interveners' need for oil over and above historical, geographical or ethnic ties.

Civil wars have made up more than 90 per cent of all armed conflicts since World War II and the research builds on a near-exhaustive sample of 69 countries which had a between 1945 and 1999. About two thirds of civil wars during the period saw third party intervention either by another country or outside organisation.

Dr Petros Sekeris, from the University Portsmouth, Dr Vincenzo Bove, from the University of Warwick, and Dr Kristian Skrede Gleditsch from the University of Essex, wanted to find out which factors made it more likely that a third party state would militarily intervene in an ongoing intrastate war.

Dr Sekeris said: "We found clear evidence that countries with potential for oil production are more likely to be targeted by foreign intervention if civil wars erupt.

"Military intervention is expensive and risky. No country joins another country's civil war without balancing the cost against their own strategic interests and what possible benefits there are.

"We wanted to go beyond conspiracy theories and conduct a careful, nuanced analysis to see whether oil acts as an economic incentive in the decision on whether to intervene in an internal war in another country.

"The results show that outsiders are much more motivated to join a fight if they have a vested financial interest."

Among the findings, published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, are:

  • The more oil a country has, the more likely a third party will intervene in their civil war;
  • The more oil a country imports, the greater the likelihood it will intervene in an oil-producing country's civil war;

Dr Bove said: "Before the ISIS forces approached the oil-rich Kurdish north of Iraq, ISIS was barely mentioned in the news. But once ISIS got near oil fields, the siege of Kobani in Syria became a headline and the US sent drones to strike ISIS targets.

"We don't claim that our findings can be applied to every decision made on whether to intervene in another country's war, but the results clearly demonstrate supply of and demand for oil motivates a significant number of decisions taken to intervene in civil wars in the post-World War II period.

"The 'thirst for oil' is often put forward as a near self-evident explanation behind the intervention in Libya and the absence of intervention in Syria. Many claims are often simplistic but, after a rigorous and systematic analysis, we found that the role of economic incentives emerges as a key factor in intervention."

The research found that a third party country was more likely to intervene if:

  • They were a major power;
  • The rebels were strong and well-armed;
  • There were close ethnic ties between the two countries; and/or
  • The civil war took place during the Cold War, a period of global competition between superpowers.

Among the examples highlighted by the researchers were USA's involvement in Angola's civil war from 1975 to the end of the Cold War and in Guatemala, Indonesia and the Philippines, and the USA's support of conservative autocratic states in oil-rich. Also cited were the UK's involvement in Nigeria's 1967-70 civil war, in contrast to the non-intervention in civil wars in other former colonies which had no oil reserves (Sierra Leone and Rhodesia, later Zimbabwe); and the former Soviet Union's involvement in Indonesia (1958), Nigeria (1967-68) and Iraq (1973).

The researchers said that at the other end of the spectrum, -rich states including the Gulf States, Mexico and Indonesia have no history of military intervention in other countries' civil wars, even if they have advanced and well equipped military forces.

With the West becoming less energy-dependent and China becoming more energy-dependent, the incentives for third party countries to intervene in other ' wars was likely to change in the future, they said.

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41 comments

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Tri-ring
4.8 / 5 (9) Jan 27, 2015
The study should extend their research back beyond WW2 since that was the reason why Japan engaged WW2 as well.
Vietvet
4.3 / 5 (11) Jan 27, 2015
@Tri-ring

Your correct about the importance of oil in Japans expanists plans but so was rubber, steel and other natural resources. Couple that with the ruling cabals racial superiority attitudes led to their
invasion in China and attack on Pearl Harbor.
Losik
Jan 27, 2015
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Losik
Jan 27, 2015
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alfie_null
5 / 5 (8) Jan 28, 2015
. . . the illegitimate regime of oligarchs

Whichever side you choose, isn't that what you'll end up with?
Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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Thirteenth Doctor
4.7 / 5 (7) Jan 28, 2015
I didn't think this was a conspiracy. I thought this was known. To me, wars, conquest and military conflicts have always been a battle of resources. Some regions of the world have resources others don't or they have more and someone always wants it. War is usually the result no matter how those responsible spin the reason.
Gimp
4 / 5 (4) Jan 28, 2015
Is this science?

Like Thirteenth Doctor, I thought this was known fact.
kochevnik
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 28, 2015
@LostIt Currently there http://www.nytime...ml?_r=0, that the oil fields near Crimea are the main reason for Russian annexation of Crimea and for the stealth invasion of Russian forces into Ukraine in an effort to create the corridor to Crimea.
My gf's aunt lived in Crimea when it was Russian, and Crimeans voted 99% for reunification since they have nothing in common with the Ukrainian economy trashed by USA advisers. As for stealth troops, we have treaty signed by Ukraine permitting 70,000 Russian troops in Ukraine at any time for any reason. So we have no need to be stealth, or a bullshitting liar like you. Everything USA touches in this century turns to shiyte, and you're shooting blanks so all you have are lies and debt in your tiny little country which is a USA wannabe. Your jealousy of Russia is obvious! Now USA retail stores are closing because the Christmas season in reality stillborn
kochevnik
1.6 / 5 (7) Jan 28, 2015
@Thirteenth Doctor To me, wars, conquest and military conflicts have always been a battle of resources
Every war begins with an ignored conspiracy, which mushrooms until shooting begins
@LostIt Consider who has the benefit of conflict in Ukraine
Of course I already did it - the oil reserves at Crimea are comparable to those in North sea - at least one sixth of world oil reserves!
USA has been buying 300million barrels of oil simply to support their petrodollar. The US reserve is 95% full enough to run USA for six months, which is why oil is now falling to $20. Nobody wants worthless Ukrainian oil reserves costing more to pump than sell, except greedy losers living in tiny little countries with Russian envy. You and Brzezinski should compare notes, with your arachnid aristocratic personalities
Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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teslaberry
1.3 / 5 (8) Jan 28, 2015
this 'study' is a joke right?

the conspiracy is how 'studies' like this even get funding. FIRE THESE 'PROFESSORS' TAKE AWAY THEIR TAX BASED SALARIES.

their intrusion upon common sense and historical study is unwanted and embarrasing to the academy as a whole.

i am reminded of jonathan swifts characature of the ivory tower professors studying some meaningless nonsensical details of cucumbers.
luke_w_bradley
4.8 / 5 (9) Jan 28, 2015
I gotta speak out when I see people calling for the firing of these profs. The reality is the modern geopolitical scene involves a lot of economic calculation, and energy, which is central to nations economies, plays a huge role. For instance, with the Russia thing, look at the amount of pressure the West has brought to bear through sanctions on Russia - just economic actions. It stands to reason they would also be very tuned in to what's going on with the oil all over the world, not necessarily to steal it, but to see who its funding, that sort of thing, or stop bad guys from getting that funding. This is not bad academia.
topkill
5 / 5 (5) Jan 28, 2015
NO KIDDING!!! They needed a study to figure this out? This is not a "conspiracy theory", it's a simple and obvious fact.

That's like saying "hey, we conducted research and found that water is wet!".
Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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Losik
Jan 28, 2015
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herpderp
5 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2015
I'm so glad scientists are leading the way and helping us understand the mysteries of the universe. Greed causes wars? Whodathunk?
COCO
5 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2015
great stuff - forget the elephants - love Losik - a pro troll - sophomoric sophistry for sure but desperate logic needs its own facts. Get him to reveal more about the downed aircraft since he has such good intel.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2015
This article is in clear violation of the post 9/11 ruling party elite policy, per "Let us never tolerate ..." which may result in an onslaught of big-oil-think-tank supported trolls bringing to bear a combined full three-fifths of the cognitive ability of an average human brain.

Please keep up the good work. The study of politics and societies most definitely *is* a science.
Bongstar420
5 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2015
I'm so glad scientists are leading the way and helping us understand the mysteries of the universe. Greed causes wars? Whodathunk?


This article supposes there was another reasonable construct for describing phenomena...which there isn't
KBK
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2015
Consider who has the benefit of conflict in Ukraine
Of course I already did it - the oil reserves at Crimea are comparable to those in North sea - at least one sixth of world oil reserves! They're the more valuable for totalitarian government, the political existence of which depends on selling of oil. Without rubles from oil Putin and his lobby is nobody.


Pot-kettle-black for the fascist dickweeds hiding in the black corners of the back drop of the west.

That's why they and their compatriots own 90% of the North American MSM (university of Oregon study), so they can feed opinion and reality to the masses ---who would burn them at the stake if they ever figured it out.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Jan 30, 2015
Get him to reveal more about the downed aircraft since he has such good intel.
I'll try: Hey Zeph, what's the lowdown on MH17? Taken out by an anti-aircraft missile system manufactured in the Ukraine, or shot down by the two Ukrainian fighters, or a rebellious oops?

And people wonder about the Fermi paradox when we're just now learning: Don't fly over a war zone.
foolspoo
5 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2015
please don't insult people, staff writer. conspiracy requires doubt
Losik
Jan 30, 2015
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mysterioso
5 / 5 (2) Jan 30, 2015
Here in the good ol' USA, we call it "Defending American Interests". Not defending America or Americans, but "interests". And we always send our young men to die for those interests. Of course these interests are most interesting to American corporations. So in fact, young men in uniform die and are disfigured for corporations. Go figure. The US military has for a century been the enforcement wing and security department of corporations.
Cliff Claven
1 / 5 (1) Jan 30, 2015
The study evaluated the probability of third-party intervention in a civil war. That is not bullying or warmongering, it is a policeman breaking up a bar fight or a teacher pulling the bully off the victim in a playground brawl. It is actually called peace-making, notwithstanding that force if often required. The US intervention in the first Gulf War was peacemaking after Iraq had jumped Kuwait and was threatening Saudi Arabia for oil and territory. Oil and international trade were the reasons why 32 other nations joined the USA in that intervention. What the cited study actually proves is that oil has been the major force for peacemaking since it came to dominate global trade and the economies of developed nations in the second half of the 20th century. This is also the international relations theory of globalization, that postulates that increased economic interdependence reduces international violence.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Jan 30, 2015
Cliff – you don't make peace by dropping bombs on people. You make peace by preventing the dropping of bombs on people. Or in the case of soft-porn-ISIL by preventing decapitation. The world needs to establish justice and end killing, including state-sponsored executions that politicians brag about having the most of (e.g., Bush from Texas).

32 other nations joining in wasn't a coalition of the willing, in view of the deceit promulgated at the UN; it's a measure of the criminality—if they had acted with integrity when called to testify, you might have a leg to stand on. Of course they didn't, even when giving testimony on activities as simple as surveillance. And now, when you use a drone from halfway around the world to kill someone (identity reported as unknown) because they're approximately the same height of whomever 'fits the description', without the benefit of due process— it's easy to see your peacemaking as an unspeakable crime against humanity.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Jan 30, 2015
Thanks, Zeph – spoofing the rebels with some burner accounts and phones, if it was an op, is giving the masterminds an awful lot of credit, if history from recent to distant past is any indication. Very nearly too much credit.
Losik
Jan 30, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2015
I didn't think this was a conspiracy. I thought this was known. To me, wars, conquest and military conflicts have always been a battle of resources. Some regions of the world have resources others don't or they have more and someone always wants it. War is usually the result no matter how those responsible spin the reason.
Indeed, first time I think I've ever been described as a conspiracy theorist.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2015
Speaking of Texas, their governor just declared February 2 to be Sniper Day. Because November 22 was already taken.
antialias_physorg
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2015
. Of course these interests are most interesting to American corporations. So in fact, young men in uniform die and are disfigured for corporations. Go figure.

The intelligent (ab)using the stupid. That's always been the way of it.
Of course you have to give the stupid something shiny so they get hooked (medals, parades, perverse blurbs of 'honor' and suchlike)...and then there are the girls who like a man in uniform - so you get the next generation of doofuses to be sent out and get killed for small change (and big cash of others).

If it weren't so transparent - and so many kids didn't fall for it and others suffer for their idiocy - it would be funny.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Feb 03, 2015
Conspiracy theory becomes conspiracy fact: Obama admits he sponsors Ukranian war and Putin is victim of circumstance youtube.com/watch?v=bmUNCsT8TjU

@Lostit This is just one of the moral (if not mental) problems of many Russians. You're a voluntary USA resident, as you're preferring the freedom life at the West. Now we can even read, that the aunt of your girlfriend apparently emigrated from Crimea too.
My computer servers are USA residents, built in China. I would not reside in heart of evil. Aunt still lives in Crimea, Russia. You are obsessed with emigration topic because you live in tiny little irrelevant country, like tiny dog nipping at heels of strangers
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Feb 03, 2015
Ukraine government required by IMF loan to incite war with Russian-speaking citizens. Banksters directly incited war by stipulating this clause in $5billion loan. Meanwhile USA steals 34tonnes Ukraine gold from central bank in airlift to repay Amsterdam for lives used in false flag MH17 shot down by panicking Ukrainian military pilot Voloshin armed with R-60 air-to-air missiles
Losik
Feb 03, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (2) Feb 03, 2015
@Losik The eliete running the world economy are scarred, building underground bunkers. https://www.youtu...uwxwols8 But Losik is taking his happy pills in his tiny little country, in full knowledge that Putin is a bad guy despite 88% approval ratings, Ukraine was forcibly annexed despite already being Russian and having a 99% favorable turnout of succession, MH17 was shot down in machine gun fire by East Ukrainians despite not having a single fighter airplane, and that Obama really didn't intend to incite war with East Ukraine despite announcing so publicly with a document trail 10 years long. And now he will say that the world elite building underground bunkers and cities are just doing so as a hobby, very likely
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2015
"The US will to control every independent country in the world has provoked a direct confrontation with Russia that might end up in a use of atomic weapons" - Lew Rockwell, chairman of the Ludwig von Mises Institute

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