Water War Iraq
March 17, 2003 1:03 AM   Subscribe

Is the looming war with Iraq the first Water War? Should the signs really be saying No Blood for Water? From -Water Wars: a lecture by (Adel Darwish) "Oil has always been thought of as the traditional cause of conflict in the Middle East past and present. Since the first Gulf oil well gushed in Bahrain in 1932, countries have squabbled over borders in the hope that ownership of a patch of desert or a sand bank might give them access to new riches. No longer. Now, most borders have been set, oil fields mapped and reserves accurately estimated - unlike the water resources, which are still often unknown. WATER is taking over from oil as the likeliest cause of conflict in the Middle East."
posted by thedailygrowl (25 comments total)
In Britain, we have enough water.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:23 AM on March 17, 2003

isn't this more of a lebanon v. israel thing? (or is it syria v. israel ... i forget. it was discussed here once, interesting topic.)
posted by donkeyschlong at 1:56 AM on March 17, 2003

It's not the cause of this upcoming excuse for a war, since it's not two Middle-Eastern nations fighting, rather it's just the US going in and kicking a small dog for the television news cameras.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:36 AM on March 17, 2003

'Is the looming war with Iraq the first Water War? '
- not the first, or the last, I fear. As your link testifies, water has been fought over before.
I am not sure that water is the only reason for the belliscosity toward Iraq, but it is a contributing factor IMHO.
posted by asok at 2:40 AM on March 17, 2003

An excuse not to shower tonight! Excellent!

[ Not that I don't want always want to be clean sometimes or anything, but hey, I want to lend every peacekeeping hand I can. Plus I'm busy. Yeah, that's it. ]
posted by shepd at 3:47 AM on March 17, 2003

Whatever your views on the war and whatever your views on water, Bush, it seems, has hardly been in the vanguard about environmental concerns. Some number of years ago (10?), EO Wilson (Harvard) noted in Consilience (wonderful book) that wars in the very near futre would be about getting drinkable water. He noted that this would be between nations and within nations--as in the Amrican West. In America, little or nothing has been done to combat this growing need.
posted by Postroad at 3:58 AM on March 17, 2003

IMO the issue of water is solvable with technology and money. It would be cheaper to setup desalination plants and pipelines and artificial rivers that run uphill than it would be to go to war. It's allready done in California the worlds largest water works which feeds the central valley farmers and coastal citys from Sierra Nevada snow melt.

In the USA the water problem is visable out West, but few realize the East has serious problems too. The water infrastructure (pipelines, etc..) has 3 generations of technology built over 3 phases -- 17th C, 19thC and 20thC. We are at a point it is starting to fall apart, like an old roadway system it needs to be rebuilt. The cost is in the trillions and the government is not sure what to do about it.
posted by stbalbach at 4:16 AM on March 17, 2003

A friend once told me, "The next World War will be fought over water."
posted by alumshubby at 4:24 AM on March 17, 2003

Water conservation will become a more pressing issue. We all waste * enough water everyday to support a family of 4, on average. So do the companies that supply our water.
'Nearly every one in Britain could have a bath in the volume of water lost every day'
Bagsy using the soap first!
*Apologies to anyone (.pdf) who actually looks after their water consumption levels.
posted by asok at 4:45 AM on March 17, 2003

the carbon-based bipeds are the cause of the conflict. it is their nature to blame the elements for their troubles. do not fall for this ploy.
posted by quonsar at 4:53 AM on March 17, 2003

Nearly every one in Britain could have a bath in the volume of water lost every day

Or on the volume of water saved every day by the mainland Europeans who abstain from bathing, I suspect.
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:01 AM on March 17, 2003

by your command, lord quonsar.
posted by Kikkoman at 5:11 AM on March 17, 2003

Don't worry MrBali, if you need to go to Europe you could take a portable bidet, to be safe in the knowledge that you, at least have paid attention to personal haigiene issues.

'Who needs Bidet?

Every member of your family'

posted by asok at 7:00 AM on March 17, 2003

A friend once told me, "The next World War will be fought over water."

Why? Answer - because it is a scarce, needed resource.

How can the scarcity be solved? One way is conservation of the scare resource, the other way is to reduce demand.

How can you reduce demand? Less humans on the planet. How do you get less humans? Reduce breeding. disease. And if these fail, war.

I see efforts into using less water (some sales of products), cure disease (mostly via product sales), killing via war (Ohhh! lots of product sales!). Using less water ups supplies, curing disease creates more demand, and war is effective at reducing the demand in the short term, but not considered polite.

That leaves population control and that's never given much press which one could call favorable.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:14 AM on March 17, 2003

dailygrowl - Pish.
1) Water - yes.
2) Oil - yes.
3) "The Grand Chessboard" of Zbigniew Brzezinski - yes ["The most shocking part of this book is the authors blunt statement that what the U.S. truly needs to awaken public opinion and lead to the kind of initiative to seize control of oil rich territory he deems necessary is a calamitous attack on the order of a Pearl Harbor. This came about with 9-11, which occurred after this book was published. "]
4) The "Perle Plan" (according to Seymour Hersh - For the US to Invade Iraq and Iran (or otherwise topple Mullahs from power in Iran) and so deprive Hezbollah and Hamas of two important sponsors, thus undercutting Palestinian resistance and so ennabling Israel to force a peace settlement on favourable terms. And (of course) American style democracy sweeps through the Mideast and everyone lives happily ever after.
5) - Pump up the market valuations of Cheney's Haliburton, Perle's (and Kissinger's) Trireme Corporation (see link above) and, indeed, a whole constellation of defense related industries favoured by Bush Administration insiders.
6) Bush family personal picque at Saddam Hussein - Yes.
7) Distract Americans from a slow, steady (and perhaps carefully) managed collapse of excessive stock market valuation - Yes.
8) An attempt to provoke the Biblical Armaggedon (of which we were all warned recently by the the Hebrew-spouting carp) - Maybe.
posted by troutfishing at 7:17 AM on March 17, 2003

rough ashlar - That too, perhaps. We will see.
posted by troutfishing at 7:19 AM on March 17, 2003

Ironically, the entire Middle East and North Africa have been intensely, and relatively peacefully, working very hard to alleviate their water problems for years. Libya's massive "Man Made River" project (good illustration) is one example of harvesting an aquifer.

In the case of Iraq, the obvious answer is desalinization. Since the biggest cost associated with it is energy, the problem almost solves itself. Within ten years, Iraq alone could be exporting vast amounts of water to the entire region, plus irrigating the entire country.
posted by kablam at 7:21 AM on March 17, 2003

Whatever happened to the idea of towing huge freshwater iceberg-chunks from the North Pole or Antarctica to the Mideast?
posted by troutfishing at 8:19 AM on March 17, 2003

Don't worry MrBali, if you need to go to Europe you could take a portable bidet

Actually, I just got back from Europe. I showered every day which is more than I can say for my Belgian and French cow-orkers. Phew. As for bidet, I don't need. Paper work fine for wipe ass with, thanks.
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2003

There is a sea of water in the air, dehumidifiers could be modified to purify water for drinking. Also, desalination plants can produce fresh water (although this method is more expensive.) As soon as we can control the weather, our water worries will be gone until the planet dries up in an orgy of greenhouse effect and global warming.
posted by banished at 8:56 AM on March 17, 2003

isn't this more of a lebanon v. israel thing?

Hey, ho, it's Yet Another Turkey/Iraq thing (as if they don't already have enough issues, what with the Kurds and oil and all):

Turkey: Iraq and Syria are nuts (well, paraphrasing there).

Kids in Framingham, Mass., try to solve it all
posted by agaffin at 2:34 PM on March 17, 2003

what the hell would the US want with Iraqi water? We have plenty of water.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on March 17, 2003

How can you reduce demand? Less humans on the planet. How do you get less humans? Reduce breeding. disease. And if these fail, war.

Actually, just reduce breeding. Disease is rarely catastrophic enough to reduce the population for long (even the Black Plague didn't slow Europe much), and the losses of war are usually negated by booms just after.
posted by hippugeek at 3:53 PM on March 17, 2003

I can't for the life of me see how US interests in the Gulf intersect with anyone's water interests, except tangentially; and certainly there have already been "water wars", primarily one of the Saddam regime against the Marsh Arabs, though in this case it's more a matter of using water as a weapon rather than fighting over it. Nor is this a particularly new phenomenon: the idea of water-monopoly empires is practically a chestnut, mentioned by several sf writers over the years such as Larry Niven.

For those still worrying about overpopulation, with regard to water, it's mainly a localized phenomenon: world population will probably peak sometime later this century.

As for the iceberg idea, it's still out there, it's just that so far existing technologies have been filling the bill. The current fashionable idea is for water bags: really, really big water bags.
posted by dhartung at 12:19 AM on March 18, 2003

MrBaliHai Cow-Orkers! Woo hoo. I laughed.
posted by maniactown at 9:07 AM on March 19, 2003

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