Transborder conflict on the Mekong

I’m generally sympathetic to the notion that transboundary water conflicts are overrated, and that they often provide a framework for cooperation. Except when they don’t (from this week’s Economist):

The decision by Laos to push ahead with the giant Xayaburi dam makes it the first of what could prove to be a cascade of 11 proposed dams on the lower Mekong. Because the decision fails to take account of the consequences for downstream countries, it has raised tensions with neighbours. Having long pretended otherwise, the Lao government recently asserted that construction was forging ahead, and indeed was on schedule. That prompted a warning from the president of Vietnam, Truong Tan Sang, that “tensions over water resources are not only threatening economic growth in many countries, but also presenting a source of conflict”.

The core of the conflict is the freshwater fishery, one of the world’s largest, on which the Economist reports 65 million poor folk depend for protein.