Water: Asia's New Battleground

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Overview

The battles of yesterday were fought over land. Those of today are over energy. But the battles of tomorrow may be over water. Nowhere is that danger greater than in water-distressed Asia.

Water stress is set to become Asia's defining crisis of the twenty-first century, creating obstacles to continued rapid economic growth, stoking interstate tensions over shared resources, exacerbating long-time territorial disputes, and imposing further hardships on the poor. Asia is home to ...

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Overview

The battles of yesterday were fought over land. Those of today are over energy. But the battles of tomorrow may be over water. Nowhere is that danger greater than in water-distressed Asia.

Water stress is set to become Asia's defining crisis of the twenty-first century, creating obstacles to continued rapid economic growth, stoking interstate tensions over shared resources, exacerbating long-time territorial disputes, and imposing further hardships on the poor. Asia is home to many of the world's great rivers and lakes, but its huge population and exploding economic and agricultural demand for water make it the most water-scarce continent on a per capita basis. Many of Asia's water sources cross national boundaries, and as less and less water is available, international tensions will rise. The potential for conflict is further underscored by China's unrivaled global status as the source of transboundary river flows to the largest number of countries, ranging from India and Vietnam to Russia and Kazakhstan; yet a fast-rising China has declined to enter into water-sharing or cooperative treaties with these states, even as it taps the resources of international rivers.

Water: Asia's New Battleground is a pioneering study of Asia's murky water politics and the relationships between freshwater, peace, and security. In this unique and highly readable book, Brahma Chellaney expertly paints a larger picture of water across Asia, highlights the security implications of resource-linked territorial disputes, and proposes real strategies to avoid conflict and more equitably share Asia's water resources.

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Editorial Reviews

Global Asia
Brahma Chellaney's masterful, pioneering study argues that oceanic territorial disputes are just a tiny tip of the iceberg. Freshwater is fast emerging as Asia's new battlefield, and strategists, economists, diplomats and generals had best prepare for it now. Chellaney superbly combines a panoramic picture of Asia as a "global water crisis hub" with detailed case studies of potential water wars.
Financial Times
Chellaney's new book is an exhaustive study of a narrow, but vital, aspect of the Asian security landscape: the growing struggle for water resources.
Foreign Affairs
Ranging widely across the region, this forcefully written study warns of a growing risk of interstate conflicts over water. The only way to avoid such outcomes, Chellaney argues, is to adopt a cooperative, rules-based approach to water management.
Choice
The author provides a comprehensive analysis of the roots of the Asian water crisis, combing hydrology, global politics, and cultural history. Fortunately, Chellaney offers potential policy solutions.
Contemporary Southeast Asia
This is a valuable contribution to a subject that still receives too little attention when power politics are discussed.
Commonweal Magazine
Water tells an immensely important story, and Chellaney has myriad facts at his fingertips. It could be the resource that academics, journalists, statesmen, and policymakers need to bring this issue to a wider audience.
Asian Review of Books
This well-researched volume is a fascinating blend of geography, hydrology and politics, and Chellaney's statistics make convincing arguments ... This prescriptive volume is a sobering read for those of us residing in Asia, and the weight of its message certainly deserves urgent and widespread attention.
Washington Monthly
Chellaney has crafted a formidable interdisciplinary book. He has done readers a great service in tracking down reams of scholarly information, beautifully knit together, covering a dazzling range of countries and disciples, from Bangladesh to Mongolia, climate change science to regional security doctrine. Despite the vast scope of the book, the writing is clear and lively.
Pacific Affairs
This is a well-written book which uses relatively clear and sophisticated language while still remaining accessible to readers without prior knowledge of the subject. Chellaney draws out important policy implications of increasing failure to deal with the impending Asian transboundary water crisis.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589017719
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Brahma Chellaney, one of India's leading strategic thinkers and analysts, is a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He has served as a member of the Policy Advisory Group headed by the foreign minister of India, and as an adviser to India's National Security Council. He has held appointments at Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, Johns Hopkins University, and the Australian National University. He is the author of five previous books, including Asian Juggernaut: The Rise of China, India, and Japan.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

1. Asia: Global Water Crisis Hub

2. Murky Hydropolitics

3. The Tibetan Plateau: The World's Most Unique Water Repository

4. Exploiting Riparian Advantage: A Key Test Case

5. Managing Intrastate Water Conflicts

6. Mitigating Intercountry Water Disputes or Discord

7. Asia's Challenge: Forestalling Bloodletting over Water

Appendix A: Interstate Freshwater Agreements in Asia since the Start of the Decolonization Process

Appendix B: Web Links to Key Asian Water Treaties

Notes

About the Author

Index

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 27, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Brahma Chellaney's new book offers an indepth analysis of the water geopolitics in Greater Asia, extending from Japan all the way to Turkey and including the entire Middle East. This is the first book that comprehensively examines the water geopolitics on the world's driest continent, Asia. The water crisis holds important implications for Asia's ability to continue to be the locomotive of the world economy. Thus, the book is an important contribution to the literature and is likely to be of particular interest to investors, especially because it details the economic and political implications of the spreading water shortages.

    The strength of the book is that its various chapters are thematically focused, rather than discussing countries or subregions. Although such a framework is more challenging, it allows the author to keep the focus on the larger issues in Asia and to comparatively assess opportunities of cooperation and risks of conflict. What emerges is that water disputes are concentrated in four separate circles-China and its neighbors; India and its neighbors; Israel and its neighbors; and Turkey and its neighbors-plus in Central Asia and the Arabian Peninsula. Intrastate disputes are more widespread, with the book providing a good picture of such disputes within South Korea and China in particular.

    The book is sympathetic to the plight of countries, like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Iraq, which are located farthest downstream on rivers flowing through multiple countries.
    The book masterfully blends water issues and geopolitics to highlight water resource scarcity as a burning issue. The analysis is objective and perceptive. The book's only drawback is its length: it is virtually the size of two average-size books and, therefore, has been printed in small typescript.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 13, 2013

    Excellent and lucid book This multidisciplinary book provides an

    Excellent and lucid book
    This multidisciplinary book provides an in-depth strategic assessment of Asia's water crisis and how it can be addressed. It points to the political and economic risks if the crisis is left unmitigated.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2011

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