Someone once explained the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel fought off Syria, Jordan, and Egypt and ended up controlling the Golan Heights, in terms of water.
By capturing the Golan Heights, the article asserted, the Israelis controlled the recharge area where precipitation filtered down to the wells watering their farms.
Western kid that I was, I thought, "Oh, I get it, it's all about water. No wonder the tanks are rolling."
Some students and I once kicked around alternative bioregional histories for southern Colorado. I suggested that if Kansas and Colorado were separate countries fighting over the Arkansas River's flow, we probably would have had a hard time stopping their troops. The citizens of Pueblo would have been digging trenches, like those of Warsaw in 1920. The border would probably be at Fowler now.
Fortunately, we have a judicial system which settled things, meaning that Coloradans do not have to say "Ar-KAN-sas" like those barbarians to the east. But I digress.
We all have heard about the California drought and the over-pumping of groundwater there. We should know that the same thing is happening on the High Plains (another argument for industrial hemp over thirsty corn). Cities such as Santa Fe and Albuquerque, not to mention some Denver suburbs, depend on ground water—how long will that last?
What I did not know is that the Saudi Arabs have been playing the same game, and in about thirty or forty years they have drained an aquifer in the name of growing wheat. Saudi Arabia a wheat-exporting country? Who knew? Not me. But they are hitting the wall called No More Groundwater.
Just one more thing to stir up the Middle East. Over there, the tanks do roll.