June 04, 2003
READER JOHN KLUGE EMAILS FROM IRAQ:
I am in Irbil in Kurdistan northern Iraq. Someone explained the history of this place to me today. The mountains here are bare and devoid of trees. They used be forested. Covered with trees. There used to be so many trees in Irbil that you couldn't see around corners. Now it looks like Kansas or really more like parts of Montana.
The reason is that Saddam cut down all of the trees in Kurdistan in 1988. He bulldozed 4000 of the 5000 villages in Kurdistan and the Kurds ran to the mountains for safety, so he cut down all of the trees on these mountains and killed all of the game, so that the Kurds would have no wood for fires and no food to eat. He was incredibly effective. The Kurds are now replanting the trees. You can see hundreds of tiny trees if you look closely at the mountains. I didn't notice them until they were pointed out to me. In Kirkuk they found a mass grave of Kurdish children. One of the U.N. guys offered to take us out and show it to us. I haven't taken him up on it. I have no reason to go there and I feel like it would be disrespectful to go and gawk. I guess some of the children were buried with their toys and dolls.
It makes me sick everytime I surf the net and see all these people in Europe and back home saying that the war was not justified because we haven't found 50 tons of sarin gas yet. I wish those people would come to this country and look at ruined villages between here and Kirkuk and the bare mountains. Anyone who protested against this war and defended Saddam ought to be ashamed of themselves. Its just unimaginable the things that went on here.
And largely unmentioned, by those who are still kvetching.