Comments to the Author This paper asks ‘why realism is the prevailing perspective on energy security’. It provides a very brief summary of realism and neorealism, yet has failed to explain the distinction between the two as states, power, capacities and geopolitics are the core of both. If this is a paper on IP theories, it offers little people in the field can learn. There has been an extensive literature on energy security from both IR and other aspects since the early 1970s when the first oil crisis led to a sudden surge of literature on the issue by a group of very good scholars (e.g. see various issues of International Organization). In recent years, studies on energy security have extended to sectors beyond petroleum. The paper never specifies what kind of energy and its security the author tries to explain. If it is petroleum, what security issues are involved in its supply and demand, and especially what has changed since the 1970s? What does this paper add to the very well developed literature on energy security from all schools? Without identifying the substance matter and without providing any empirical examples, one could assume the paper is about two concepts – realism and neo-realism which are not clearly explained either. Most sentences on the subject matter – energy – are either wrong or based on wrong assumptions (esp. p.11). A simple example is the last paragraph on page 1 that is about the situation after the 1970s rather than before. What is the evidence when a sentence is written: power determining the distribution of scarce resources: for the past 70 years or so, no one country has invaded another just to get access to oil – Japan and South Korea lack natural endowment of energy resources (all sorts), yet access to them has not been a security issue, as the author presents. Finally, if geopolitics is one part of the discussion, what does it mean? Is it ‘a discipline’, ‘an outcome’, or a condition (p.3)? It is better to think through what question the paper is to explain and why it is even a question before taking on the writing. Reviewer: 2 Comments to the Author This paper seeks to substantiate a strong link between energy security and realist theories, and the author summarises a range of literature that touches on both areas. Unfortunately, the paper lacks direction and argumentation, is in many respects superficial in its analysis, and contains numerous flaws in terms of academic presentation. From the outset, it was not clear how, or indeed whether, the argument being presented was different to any perspective elsewhere in the literature. Yes, there is no doubt a connection between realist theories and energy security, but this is hardly novel; it is very difficult to find anyone who would dispute this proposition. The author would have been better served in providing a more nuanced analysis by further parsing the intra-realist debates over what shapes the approach of states to energy security. Taking a lead from Krasner’s realist interpretation of US political economy (Defending the National Interest, 1978), the author might consider delving deeper into what s/he claims is a different approach to energy security among classical realists of the Morgenthau variety and neo-realists of the Waltz variety. More generally, the paper revealed a simplistic grasp of the realist paradigm (I use this word deliberately, as distinct from “theory”). Beyond self-help and statism, there is very little exposition in the paper of realism’s key attributes. On p.6, in the penultimate paragraph, the author tries to distinguish realism from neo-realism. But s/he overlooks the basic design of neo-realism (i.e. the anarchic structure of the international system where states covet absolute security) as distinct from classical realism, which privileges human behaviour as the independent variable. Moreover, there is no discussion of alternative non-realist approaches, which struck me as odd in a paper that purports to explain the dominance of realism in energy security studies. Finally, the paper was below standard in terms of academic presentation. Authors’ perspectives were mentioned with no references (e.g. Morgenthau on p.5, Wolfers on p.7); there were no pages in any of the in-text referencing; and many of the sentences were difficult (and in some instances impossible) to follow in terms of logical progression and coherence. In his introduction the author mentions that security also means environmental factors and affordability; however the paper only concentrates on what it calls ″realism and neorealism highlighting the concepts like geopolitics and power″. In my view we should not approach energy security outside a holistic approach. This the paper misses. The paper is well written but still it contains few defects. In page 6 line 6 it ignores ″cultural″ aspects in defining human elements of geopolitics. The paper also has few editorial, language and typing mistakes (page 9, line 36, also China′s threat to energy security in page 7, line 3 is now outdated, etc.) Reviewer #4: Review: Realism as a prevailing perspective on energy security Author offers a discussion on why realism to this day remains a valid theory to analyse energy security. Specifically, author discusses some core concepts like power, geopolitics, the international anarchical system, how they apply to the energy system and then concludes that neorealism remains the best theory for energy security. I had hoped that this paper could convince me to take another look at realism in relation to energy security, that something new was happening in that theory in relation to energy, but in this form it does not. 1. I′m sorry to say but the paper is circular: author chooses to study realism (both realism and neorealism), explains the theory and then argues that it remains valid and hence ′the theory that best reflects energy security′ – without testing/comparing to other theoretical energy security theories that′s a claim author cannot make. 2. Basically the paper struggles through (neo)realism and its relation to energy – primarily defined as fossil fuels. The discussion itself was not as clear as it could be. But even more importantly, there was nothing new here compared to any of the 1990s/early 2000s work on energy security. Hence I wonder what author feels the contribution is. The moment renewable energy sources come up author does not support his argument and thus passes the work of Criekemans and others on geopolitics and renewable resources. 3. Troubling as well is that throughout the paper the author not once (that I noticed) critically engages with the theories s/he discusses. 4. I felt that there are some weak sources in the text – including a handbook and some Turkish sources, which in principle is fine if author offers a proper discussion. If author wants to continue along this track, I would expect: – The author to position him/her self above the theory. – Only a brief introduction on energy security and realism (one section, perhaps half a section) – Then a discussion on new developments in (neo)realism. And new here means developments from the last 2, perhaps 5 years. Not last 30. Perhaps something from the author self. – Then either an application or a critical discussion how that changes how we look at energy security. – To end with a reflection on what the strengths and weaknesses are in comparisons to some other perspectives ′out-there′.
The post Why realism is the prevailing perspective on energy security
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