Norman Geras' post today quoting arguments for staying in Iraq made me think about a historic parralel - the US withdrawal from SE Asia once domestic political pressure to end the war there kicked in.
I was particularly thinking about what the Iraqi Deputy PM, Barham Saleh (a Kurd and democratically elected - which are both things to celebrate) said in London on Monday (and which unfortunately got a lot less coverage than General Dannat's recent remarks):
"We do believe there is no option for the international community to cut and run, the future of Iraq is vital to the future of the Middle East and the world order.
This is a society that was traumatised by 35 years of tyranny, and trying to build a functioning democracy in the heart of the Islamic Middle East.
The pressure that I feel is from my constituents in Iraq who demand of their government delivery of resources and security.
This is not an easy situation, but we are mindful of our responsibility. At the end of the day, it is for the elected government of Iraq to make tough choices, but for some time we need the support of the international community."
and what Cambodian leader Sirik Matak wrote in April 1975 to US Ambassador John Dean in response to an offer to escape by helicopter from the advancing Khmer Rouge:
"Dear Excellency and friend,
I thank you very sincerely for your letter and for your offer to transport me towards freedom. I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion.
As for you and in particular for your great country, I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty. You have refused us your protection and we can do nothing about it. You leave us and it is my wish that you and your country will find happiness under the sky.
But mark it well that, if I shall die here on the spot and in my country that I love, it is too bad because we are all born and must die one day. I have only committed the mistake of believing in you, the Americans.
Please accept, Excellency, my dear friend, my faithful and friendly sentiments. Sirik Matak."
Two weeks later he had been shot - one of an estimated 2 million victims of Pol Pot's genocide.
Any timetable for withdrawal from Iraq needs to ensure that Barham Saleh and other Iraqi democrats are not abandoned to their fates like America's allies in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were, but are given the time and support to build up their own security forces.