When we talk about “water wars” in the United States, things like what is now happening in Atlanta, we’re not really talking about shooting wars. But there’s are widespread fears that globally, water wars will be one of the defining structures of 21st century conflict.
Not so, suggests a new paper in the Journal of Peace Research. Jaroslav Tir of the University of Georgia and John Ackerman of the U.S. Air Command and Staff College argue that water actually provides an opportunity for cooperation rather than a source of conflict:
[T]he findings suggest that the roles of allegedly important and problematic factors such as the upstream/downstream relationship and recent militarized conflict have been exaggerated in earlier research. Cumulatively, the findings sound a cautiously optimistic note for the prospects of the spread of formal river cooperation in the less developed parts of the world.