Agreeing with GWB
This will probably inspire a firestorm of protest in the comments, but I actually agree with Bush's comments likening a premature withdrawal from Iraq to the US pull-out from SE Asia - which he thinks was a bad thing.
Like almost everyone on the left I grew up with the idea that the Vietnam War had been a huge folly and an exercise in neo-imperialism.
That was before I ever met anyone Vietnamese and asked them what they thought about it.
Hackney, where I live, is home to the largest community of Vietnamese refugees and their descendants in Western Europe, with community centres such as An Viet (http://www.anvietuk.org) more well known to many Londoners as the home to a wonderful canteen-style restaurant, and the VLC Centre (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).
I had the honour of serving as a Labour Councillor with Thanh Vu MBE, the Director of the An Viet Foundation, himself a former victim of the Communist "re-education" camps and a "boat person".
He has this to say on the An Viet website about the experience of the 3 million Vietnamese refugees worldwide:
"More than 30 years ago now, the Government of Vietnam made a grave error.
Instead of reconciling the two sides after more than 30 years of war, the Communists set about ‘re-educating’ million of South Vietnamese soldiers, police and experts.
They confiscated property and forced thousands upon thousands of people into so-called ‘New Economic Zones’.
They even turned on the ethnic Chinese, who had been in Vietnam for countless generations!
They forced them to either flee to China or take their chances in flimsy fishing boats on the high seas. Half those who chose the latter option died en route."
From an immediate postwar Stalinist dictatorship that killed and imprisoned countless people opposed to the regime, Vietnam has morphed into a bizarre Chinese-style amalgam of the worst aspects of both communism and capitalism. When I went there in 2004 I had a fantastic holiday but was deeply disturbed by a country that remained a police state, where Communist Party membership buys you privilege, corruption was rampant, free speech and democracy non-existent, but there was an unfettered free market and virtually no free health care or education provision.
Many Vietnamese in the diaspora and in the south do not believe they were "liberated" from the Americans in 1975. They believe that the Americans abandoned their loyal allies just at the point when the war was militarily winnable - because of domestic political pressure - causing the loss of the civil war against the Communists and untold subsequent misery.
The circumstances in Iraq if the US pulls out - note I'm saying the US as I'm genuinely open-minded about whether the withdrawal of the few thousand Brits in Basra will make any difference militarily - would be infinitely worse than the aftermath of Vietnam in terms of bloodshed, not least because it's a three or four sided, rather than two-sided, conflict.
Is the West ready for the moral responsibility of leaving a power vacuum in Iraq - are we really going to salve our consciences about the original 2003 invasion by pulling out and watching the subsequent bloodbath from afar?
Are we ready to accept millions of Iraqi refugees - equivalents of the Vietnamese Boat People?
Are we ready for - quite aside from the fate of the Iraqis - the security consequences for ourselves and our energy supplies of an Iraq that is either an anarchic warzone of ethnic cleansing or where some strongman comes out on top, or the Iranians run the show?
Pulling out might be the popular way to end an unpopular war like it was in Vietnam. But just as in Vietnam that doesn't make it morally the right thing to do.