Here are valuable updates to recent articles
(A) More about the tottering structure of the American political regime — About our healthcare system:
- “Healthcare Reform That Conservatives Could Love“, Nathan Lewis, The Huffington Post, 16 August 2009
- “Mowing the Sward of Damocles“, Fred Reed, 14 June 2009
- “A Broken System“, Casey Research, 20 August 2009
(B) As Japan sails into the shadows, let’s wish them well and wave good-by.
- “Out with the old“, the Economist, 20 August 2009 — “The Liberal Democratic Party is on the brink of electoral defeat. About time too”
- “Japan’s economy in valley of tears with record debt“, Deutsche Bank, 19 August 2009
- “Japan Is Fading“, Newsweek, 15 August 2009 — “One thing the nation’s next leaders don’t talk about is growth.”
- “Can Japan Avoid Another Lost Decade?“, Nouriel Roubini, Forbes, 23 July 2009
Note: oddly, Roubini’s article appears on his site under the same title but another byline: “Can Japan Avoid Another Lost Decade?“, Mikka Pineda, RGE Monitor, 22 July 2009
(C) There is no “peak water” crisis
- “The Water-War Myth“, Jack Shafer, Slate, 2 April 2009 — “Spike those stories about water disputes leading to armed combat.” Excerpt:
Water scarcity in the region results in “conflict and tension,” Barnaby adds, but the Israeli and the Palestinian officials have successfully used a committee (controlled by the Israelis) to peacefully resolve problems. In other places where competition for water should theoretically escalate into violence, Barnaby finds similar resolution. Egypt has become more fluid in its relations with its water neighbors because it wants to improve the climate for trade. Similarly, India and Pakistan, which war with each other with the same frequency that other nations exchange sister cities, have so far used a World Bank-arbitrated treaty to make water peace.
Barnaby wanted to revise the thesis for her water book, but her publisher pointed out that “predicting an absence of war over water would not sell” many copies. So she bagged the idea.
Despite Barnaby’s findings, other writers sense water wars in the making.
* The March 31 issue of The Nation includes a feature titled “Blue Gold: Have the Next Resource Wars Begun?” that cites a report (PDF) by the British nonprofit International Alert that names 46 countries “where water and climate stress could ignite violent conflict by 2025″ and quotes U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as saying, “The consequences for humanity are grave. Water scarcity threatens economic and social gains and is a potent fuel for wars and conflict.”
* Last month, a new U.N. water study about water scarcity warning of “a global water crisis … leading to political insecurity at various levels” prompted ominous coverage around the world (the Independent, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Bangkok Post, Bloomberg News, AFP, and elsewhere).
None of my skepticism should imply that I think everybody everywhere has all the clean, cheap water they need. Water, like all resources, is scarce, and I accept that scarcity can cause conflict. But before anyone starts frightening themselves about impending water wars, they might want to consider Barnaby’s observation that in the last five decades there have been no “formal declarations of war over water.”
Although Israel has fought wars with Egypt and Jordan, Barnaby notes, it has never fought one over water, and “more ‘virtual’ water flows into the Middle East each year embedded in grain than flows down the Nile to Egyptian farmers.”
Important note: Each of these updates is posted on the original thread. Please post your comments there, continuing those discussions.