Some thoughts at the Diplomat on what we mean when we use the term “Water Wars,”
The term “water wars,” in order to be analytically useful, refers to conflicts over rights of economic exploitation of water, whether through the support of fishing fleets or the pursuit of undersea resources or access to freshwater for drinking, industrial, and agricultural purposes.
Formulated thus, the concept of “water wars” sits uneasily upon the body of maritime strategic thinking. Historically, naval strategic theory has concentrated on the relevance of water as a means of transit. Theorists such as Alfred Thayer Mahan and Julian Corbett concentrated on the ways that nations could exploit control of the sea (and by extension control of navigable rivers) in order to expand trade, destroy the trade of rivals, and rapidly maneuver ground forces.