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Water: Asia's New Battleground Hardcover – September, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press (September 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1589017714
  • ISBN-13: 978-1589017719
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,529,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


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. --Christina Larson, Washington Monthly, March/April 2012.

We're all familiar with conflicts over territory in places like Tibet and Kashmir, but Brahma Chellaney persuasively argues that the most precious resource in these disputes is not land, but water. In a world where nearly one billion people lack access to clean water, Chellaney shows how today's economic growth could lead to tomorrow's 'water wars.' With his policy prescriptions, he also gives us a way to stop these conflicts before they begin. This is a vital book for anybody interested in diplomacy and conflict in the twenty-first century. --Stanley A. Weiss, founding chairman, Business Executives for National Security

The dominant conflict in geopolitics in this century is the scramble for energy, raw materials, and water. Brahma Chellaney is the first to publish an in-depth analysis of potential challenges and conflicts resulting from the scarcity of water in Asia. His book is particularly important to understand the impact and indeed risks in an era of a growing tendency, which one meanwhile can call resource imperialism. --Friedbert Pflüger, director, European Centre for Energy and Resource Security, King's College London

Water: Asia's New Battleground is a pioneering, comprehensive, and insightful analysis which provides also the strategies for a solution. This is a timely and enlightening book since, as Professor Chellaney demonstrates, 'what Asia confronts today, the other continents are likely to face tomorrow'. --Yoon Young-kwan, professor of international relations at Seoul National University and former foreign minister of South Korea

This is a well-written, thoroughly researched, and carefully analyzed book on a crucial subject matter. It is impressive for the richness and depth of the chapters, the interdisciplinary nature of the project and the marrying of materials from geopolitics, environmental studies, and geology. It contains a wealth of information on the complex dynamics involving water in the current and emerging Asian political and economic landscape. The book shows Chellaney's thorough knowledge of the region, its intricacies, and its long history of connectivity in terms of water sharing. --T.V. Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations, McGill University

His new book is an exhaustive study of a narrow, but vital, aspect of the Asian security landscape: the growing struggle for water resources --Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

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 — a hard sell for sovereign states. --Foreign Affairs

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. --Loh Su Hsing, Asian Review of Books

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. --Global Asia.

From the Author

Water has emerged as a key issue that could determine if Asia is headed toward cooperation or competition. The risk of water becoming a trigger for war or diplomatic strong-arming is especially high in Asia, which is home to three-fifths of the human population, yet has the lowest per capita freshwater availability among all continents. The world's fastest-growing demand for water for industrial and food production and household needs is in Asia, now the economic locomotive of the global economy and the scene of the most-rapid urbanization. More than half of the new additions to the world population by 2050 will be Asian, thereby accentuating the continent's water crisis. Indeed, the interconnected water, energy, and food sectors are set to come under growing strain.
The book covers the whole of Asia, stretching from Japan to the Middle East, and from Central Asia to the Indonesian archipelago. Intrastate and interstate water-sharing disputes have already become rife across Asia, where many watercourses cross national and ethnic frontiers. Measures taken by one nation or province to augment its water supply or storage capacity often adversely affect downstream basins, stoking political, ethnic, or sectarian tensions. Plans to reengineer river flows and overexploit transnational aquifers have only promoted the "securitization" of water. Once only an environmental issue, water has emerged as a major strategic issue.
The book, the product of almost five years of intense research, ranks as my most-challenging project ever. The challenge was compounded by the fact that different international institutions and agencies define Asia in different ways--some too narrowly to exclude entire subregions, such as the Afghanistan-Iran belt, the Caucasus, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Near East. In reality, Asia extends right up to the Bosphorus and includes more than two-thirds of the Russian Federation. Getting accurate data for the complete Asian continent thus became an important priority. In this interdisciplinary study, I received the unstinting support of many experts and institutions.

More About the Author

Brahma Chellaney is an international-affairs geostrategist and the author of nine books, including "Water: Asia's New Battleground" (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), which won the 2012 Bernard Schwartz Book Award for its "outstanding contribution to advancing the understanding of contemporary Asia." He received the $20,000 award from the Asia Society at a special event in New York in early 2013. His earlier book, "Asian Juggernaut: The Rise of China, India, and Japan" (New York: Harper Paperback, 2010), was an international bestseller.

Presently, he is a Bosch Public Policy Fellow with The Transatlantic Academy in Washington, DC; a Professor of Strategic Studies at the independent Center for Policy Research in New Delhi; a Fellow of the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo; a trustee of the National Book Trust; and an affiliate with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at King's College London. He has served as a member of the Policy Advisory Group headed by the foreign minister of India. Before that, he was an adviser to India's National Security Council, serving as convener of the External Security Group of the National Security Advisory Board.

As a specialist on international strategic issues, he held appointments at Harvard University, the Brookings Institution, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and the Australian National University. He is also a columnist and commentator. His opinion articles have been published in the International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, Times of India, Economic Times, Mint, Japan Times, La Vanguardia, Straits Times, South China Morning Post, and other important newspapers. And he has often appeared on CNN and BBC, among others.

He sits on a number of national and international organizational boards, including the academic council of The Henry Jackson Society, London. He has lectured at military war colleges, major think-tanks and universities, and international business forums like the CLSA Investors' Forum, Global ARC, and FutureChina Global Forum, and participated in high-powered initiatives like the Bergedorf Roundtable, the Singapore Global Forum, and the World Economic Forum at Davos.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard S. Botkin on July 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I consider this to be the most important book I read for geo-political information in 2011. Along with so many other issues folks are concerned about--terrorism, the Middle East, challenges with the European economies, the financial issues in the US, etc--water is one we often forget or fail to consider fully. While this is a very scholarly book and hardly 'light' reading, understanding these issues is vital to one's appreciating the problems with water, particularly as they relate to the way countries in Asia interact with one another and the rest of the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Vakratunda on December 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is an important and timely book that brings out facts about Asia that are little known -- that Asia is the world's driest continent; that Asia's water stress holds major economic, social and political implications; that of the 57 transboundary river basins in Asia, only a few have a water-sharing treaty among co-riparian states; that the Tibetan Plateau is the world's largest freshwater repository; and that China is accumulating hydro-leverage against its neighbors by building mega-dams that can control river flows from Tibet and Xinjiang to other countries.

The book is truly a pioneering and multidisciplinary study. It stands out for its easy-to-read style and thorough, unbiased research. In fact, it is the first book to look at water security across Asia, a continent that could shape our future world.

It highlights the importance of building water institutions to avert inter-country or intra-country conflicts at a time when water disputes have become rife in Asia. It lays importance on protecting the interests of vulnerable communities, as well as countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan and Iraq that are located farthest downstream on international rivers. And it offers concrete ideas and suggestions on how to solve or contain the growing water wrangles within and between nations.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By JayB on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Brahma Chellaney is one of India's foremost strategic analysts. This book is a sign of the growing attention to the links between national security and water.

Knowledge on water policy and politics comes from two main sources. First, the vast (and repetitive) outpouring of academic and activist claims, which seldom have much to do with what actually happens on the ground. Second, the actual practice of water policy and politics, most of which is not written down but the core skill of practitioners. (As a wise water diplomat once said "Researchers don't practice and practitioners don't read".) Chellaney draws heavily on the first set of sources for his sections on other countries; and draws heavily on the second when dealing with India and its perspectives.

This contributes to a heavily-distorted lens through which Chellaney views the water challenges of the Himalayas. When dealing with internal challenges in other countries Chellaney paints a picture which exists in Google but bears little relation to reality on the ground. When dealing with international water issues, Chellaney's message is the standard one from a paternalistic and sometimes xenophobic Delhi. At the core stands benevolent, democratic India. "Munificent" India struggles nobly to do good with and for its neighbours. But it has to deal with "reckless China", "jihadi Pakistan" and "immature Bangladesh".

The book is thus of considerable interest -- not because it presents a balanced view, but because it presents a well-crafted view of the way in which New Delhi sees the water world around it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kritik on May 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very useful book in understanding a "player's perspective" on the issue of water security in the most sensitive/reactive part of the world. (in retrospect, there shouldn't be any conflicts if those currently in charge keep doing what they're doing as written in the book)

A diplomat's/statesman's assistant should have this book in their library to understand the prisoner's dilemmas in today's problems of water scarcity/stress.

The writer is biased, which is understandable considering where he grew up and how the dominant player is playing hardball with everybody else.

This book provides enough evidence to improve the quality of life for 200 million people will change dramatically in 40 years-- a grand picnic of eating someone else's lunch.
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