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The Power of Oil: The Arab Oil Weapon and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and the United States

Roy Licklider
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/2600627 205-226 First published online: 1 June 1988


An extensive literature argues that economic sanctions by themselves do not usually force governments to alter important policies, but the literature does not make it clear why this is true. According to its initiators, the purpose of the 1973–74 Arab oil weapon was to force changes in the policies of states toward the Arab-Israeli conflict. This article examines the responses of the Netherlands, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States to this attempted coercion. The analysis shows that these countries did not significantly alter their policies, apparently because the sanctions were unable to coerce top-level decision-makers and did not create much political pressure on them, a problem shared by most attempts at limited external coercion.

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