In This Review

Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy
Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy
By Michael T. Klare
Metropolitan Books, 2008, 352 pp

What happens to world politics in an era marked by rising oil prices and resource scarcity? In this provocative study, Klare depicts a coming struggle for energy that will ignite dangerous geopolitical competition, with major states increasingly intervening in markets in an attempt to gain access and control. The post-Cold War system organized around U.S. dominance is giving way to a new global hierarchy of winners and losers; energy insecurity and great-power politics are combining to disrupt the old system of multilateral economic rules and security cooperation. The old international energy order was organized around oil production in the Middle East, secured by U.S. protection. The new order will be more fragmented and unstable. Klare nicely draws together the type of data and journalistic reports that daily spill across the business pages. The question of how sustained high energy prices might alter growth patterns or stimulate new energy technologies is left largely to the side. The more intriguing -- but underdeveloped -- part of the book is the discussion of shifting great-power alignments. It matters, for example, if China and Russia form a bloc or if China and the United States act on their mutual energy dependence to uphold the global flow of supplies.