This chapter argues that the relationship between energy insecurity and state weakness is real but complicated, and the link should not be exaggerated. Weak states are more vulnerable to disruptions in energy production and transit. Furthermore, high oil and gas prices tend to fuel corruption and conflict in relatively poor producers, while volatility in energy markets may further destabilize weak-state suppliers—reinforcing a vicious cycle of instability and energy insecurity. In general, however, weak states do not pose the greatest threat to US and global energy security; relatively stronger developing countries do. The chapter begins by analyzing of the growing prominence of energy issues in the US national security debate. It then explores the role of fragile states in world energy markets, and evaluates arguments about the dangers posed by these states to energy security. Next, it focuses on how the recent energy crisis—and US reliance on supplies from developing countries—may actually exacerbate state weakness and undermine US foreign policy goals. Finally, it underlines the importance of energy-rich “states to watch” for US energy security.
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