June 05, 2003
Compare And Contrast

A week ago, Best of the Web quoted a London Telegraph story with good news from Iraq:

The Mesopotamian marshlands are returning to life as local people tear down earthworks and open flood gates allowing spring waters to surge on to land drained by Saddam Hussein.

Satellite pictures published yesterday by the United Nations Environment Programme on its website--www.grid.unep.ch--show that considerably more water has reached the wetlands this May than last and places that have been dry for five years are under water.

Yesterday, InstaPundit quoted a letter from reader John Kluge with more good news from the other end of Iraq:

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.

Someone may have said this before, but if so it's worth saying again: Everybody talks about saving the environment, but Bush actually did something about it. (More restoring than saving in this case, but the point remains.) If there is any equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Ecology and Helping the Environment, he should win it. Of course he won't even be nominated.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at June 05, 2003 12:56 AM

Um, maybe I'm missing something, but the quotes say "local people" are doing this stuff. Yes, the invasion made it possible, but it strikes me as a stretch to say Bush is "doing something about the environment." And if you're going to count this, you have to weigh it against the environmental degradation caused by the war itself, no?

Posted by: language hat on June 5, 2003 12:38 PM

Yes, you are missing something – for starters this is part of the environmental impact of the war. See Saddam was intentionally destroying the wetlands in an attempt to eliminate an entire people. The Marsh Arabs lived in that area for over 5,000 years but they rebelled against him in 1991 and he was intent on punishing them - call it genocide by ecocide.

The situation before the war was desperate, many scientists were predicting that the wetlands would be entirely gone in the next five years. Environmental groups and the U.N. were demanding action to save the wetlands in Iraq. They talked about it, they protested over it, they held committee meetings and open forums - in short they did everything activists and NGOs normally do – and they got squat to show for it. Why do you suppose that is? Because Saddam Hussein wasn’t going to let them stop his plan for eradicating an entire people and their way of life.

Dubya, for all his flaws, removed Hussein from power. Without that single act the "local people" wouldn’t be doing squat except dieing a long slow death. So yes, Dubya does deserve credit for doing something positive for the environment in Iraq, but it’ll be a cold day in hell when the Left admits it.

Posted by: Robert Modean on June 6, 2003 02:20 PM

Now, on to the Cedars of Lebanon™.

Posted by: John Anderson on June 9, 2003 12:49 AM