I don't normally respond to irate readers or personal attacks based on my commentaries - I get enough hate mail and death threats via the viewers of CNN. I thought I would take the time, however, to respond to this young Assyrian woman. I am sure she is sincere and means well, but her comments are so misguided that I wanted to inject some reality into her "don't bother me with the truth" notions of her former country.
These comments were left in response to my article on the death of Tariq 'Aziz, a convicted war criminal who was sentenced to death by an Iraqi court. See Tariq 'Aziz - dead at 79 (June 7, 2015). By way of background, the reader (whose name I am withholding) is a Chaldean (Assyrian) Christian woman born in Baghdad, but now living in the United States. At times she uses the term "we" to mean Americans, so I assume she plans on staying in the United States.
Here are the comments (and my one retort):
(Reader) [Tariq Aziz] helped protect Iraqi Christians and let's be honest Iraq was a functioning country under the Baathists. It has turned into a complete s***hole. Tariq Aziz loved his country and was a loyalist. The Baathists would not have allowed Jihadists to destroy Iraqi historical artifacts and destroy the country. People could travel to work and school and live their lives under the Baathists. We replaced a secular government in Iraq with a theocracy which now belongs to Iran.
(Reader) Iraq is a completely destroyed country. And the sectarian is everywhere in Iraq, one group isn't better or worse than the other. Kurds have been stealing Christian villages in Northern Iraq terrorizing minorities in Iraq for 100 years. Maliki was also a dictator but was bad at his job the Shias have been doing the same thing to the Sunnis that the Baathists did to Shias. So what's the difference? Difference is the Baathists kept the country secular, secure from foreign terrorists, and functioning.
(Reader) The best advice for US intelligence other intelligence agencies when it comes to stabilizing Iraq warding off Iran is help another SECULAR group take Iraq back.
(Reader) I'm Chaldean and I'm proud of Tariq Aziz. Rest in peace!
Rick Francona: Have some more kool aid....
(Reader) Spoken by a person who helped destroy Iraq. Thank you for destroying Iraq and for destroying my ancient Mesopotamian Christian community's 7,000+ year presence on our ancestral homeland.
First of all, I did not destroy Iraq. The destruction of Iraq was preordained by ruthless psychopaths like Saddam Husayn and yes, your beloved Tariq 'Aziz. In fact, had you bothered to do any research about me at all, you would have discovered that I was one of the Americans in 1987 and 1988 that likely saved Iraq from certain defeat at the hands of the Iranians. Had the United States not provided American intelligence information to the Iraqi military, the Iranians would have marched into Baghdad by mid-1988.
There is no such thing as an "ancient Mesopotamian Christian community's 7,000+ year presence on our ancestral homeland." Assyrians, yes - Chaldeans, no.
Let's look at the man you are so proud of. Tariq 'Aziz was Saddam's key foreign policy and national security adviser. Tariq 'Aziz did not love his country - he loved the power and prestige that being a member of Saddam's inner circle provided him. If he loved Iraq, he would not have helped Saddam Husayn take it down the path of destruction.
On his watch, 'Aziz advised Saddam Husayn to invade Iran in September of 1980, an event that caused an eight-year bloodbath for both countries. It was the Shi'a Iraqis and the Kurds who paid the price for Saddam's - and Tariq 'Aziz's - blunder.
If that wasn't enough, the decision to invade Kuwait in August 1990 was agreed to, and later defended, by Tariq 'Aziz. That led to the needless death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Kuwaitis, displacement of others, brutal repression of the Shi'a and Kurdish populations and the continued isolation of Iraq from the rest of the world.
Let's not forget the use of chemical weapons on thousands of Kurds at Halabjah, use of nerve gas on Iranian troops at al-Faw, Shalamjah, Majnun, etc., the environmental disaster of the oil release into the Gulf, lighting 600 Kuwaiti oil wells on fire, continuous refusal to cooperate with the United Nations - the list goes on and on. At the center of it all was one key adviser - Tariq 'Aziz.
Your romantic notions of the Ba'this are misplaced. I assume you are too young to remember, or simply chose to ignore, the brutality that was the Saddam Husayn dictatorship - all supported by Tariq 'Aziz. I suggest you do some more research before you blindly canonize the Christian-in-name-only Tariq 'Aziz.