Perhaps we shouldn't have gotten into this war. But I'm so glad we didn't leave after we got involved.
First, a bit of history...there was once a war in Vietnam which the U.S. waged badly and often incompetently, seemingly not willing to do what it would take to win, losing public support over time and just making the gorilla opposition stronger (sound familiar?).
So we finally gave up and left. And what happened then?
Hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese officials, particularly ARVN officers, were imprisoned in reeducation camps after the Communist takeover. Tens of thousands died and many fled the country after being released. Up to two million civilians left the country, and as many as half of these boat people perished at sea.
On July 2, 1976, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was declared...
Vietnam began to repress its ethnic Chinese minority. Thousands fled and the exodus of the boat people began.
A lot of people died... Massive numbers of people. Unimaginable numbers.
We can't know the difference if we'd stayed, but we can guess that a lot fewer people would have died and that Vietnam wouldn't have been the economic basket case it became for decades and more or less still is.
Unfortunately, those so concerned about the death toll while we were in the war largely ignored the death toll after we left. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader why that might be, but here is the opinion of one person who was around at the time.
Thankfully, we stayed in Iraq past the tough times, in spite of those like Obama who insisted that we pull out and leave the country to its fate and that nothing we could do would make any difference. We stayed, we poured more troops in, and we turned the corner.
Per the New York Times:
Back in Iraq, Jarred by the Calm
At first, I didn't recognize the place.
On Karada Mariam, a street that runs over the Tigris River toward the Green Zone, the Serwan and the Zamboor, two kebab places blown up by suicide bombers in 2006, were crammed with customers. Farther up the street was Pizza Napoli, the Italian place shut down in 2006; it, too, was open for business. And I'd forgotten altogether about Abu Nashwan's Wine Shop, boarded up when the black-suited militiamen of the Mahdi Army had threatened to kill its owners. There it was, flung open to the world.
Two years ago, when I last stayed in Baghdad, Karada Mariam was like the whole of the city: shuttered, shattered, broken and dead...
These days, the same park is filled with people: families with children, women in jeans, women walking alone. Even the nighttime, when Iraqis used to cower inside their homes, no longer scares them. I can hear their laughter wafting from the park. At sundown the other day, I had to weave my way through perhaps 2,000 people. It was an astonishing, beautiful scene -- impossible, incomprehensible, only months ago...
Violence has dropped by as much as 90 percent. A handful of the five million Iraqis who fled their homes -- one-sixth of all Iraqis -- are beginning to return. The mornings, once punctuated by the sounds of exploding bombs, are still.
It's not over, and we need to tread carefully to ensure we don't lose this amazing but fragile peace either by pulling out completely too soon or by having too much presence. I encourage you to read the whole article.
You will also see in that article that, as of the Surge, we did in fact have a plan, based on the idea that common Iraqis wanted a better life and would reject the extremists, and that plan has worked.
For those who continue to believe we should have pulled out before the Surge, it is for you to reconcile what it would have meant to deprive the Iraqis of this chance, and to have potentially subjected them to the even greater horrors of a power vacuum being filled by Very Bad People, as we saw in Vietnam.