The last time the Americans abandoned their allies
In Vietnam, the new communist government sent many people who supported the old government in the South to "re-education camps", and others to "new economic zones." An estimated 1 million people were imprisoned without formal charges or trials. 165,000 people died in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam's re-education camps, according to published academic studies in the United States and Europe. Thousands were abused or tortured: their hands and legs shackled in painful positions for months, their skin slashed by bamboo canes studded with thorns, their veins injected with poisonous chemicals, their spirits broken with stories about relatives being killed. These factors, coupled with poverty, caused millions of Vietnamese to flee the country.Given the nature of the various terrorist groups in Iraq, it's safe to bet that the carnage after an American retreat there would be even worse. Whatever brutal regime finally emerges after the inevitable devastating civil war would take revenge on their enemies in a most bloody fashion. Refugees would flood the Middle East, most winding up in permanent camps similar to those of the Palestinians. Possibly millions would die.
Whatever your thoughts on the wisdom of the original invasion of Iraq, it should be clear that retreat now by the Americans would be a disaster. And not just for Iraq, but for America and the world. I think everyone knows this -- including the opportunistic politicians now leading the charge for withdrawal -- but they are unable politically support a cause that the hated George Bush has staked everything on. This is madness, childish madness, and unless the politicians, the media, and the public grow up a lot of people are going to die.
But maybe it won't be so bad. After all, like in Vietnam, the press will be driven out of Iraq and no longer will there be death tolls reported daily on the news. There may be a few video clips smuggled out, a couple of rumours of atrocities trickling across the internet, but those can (and will) be ignored by the media. It will be up to the scholars a decade or so into the future to figure out the final toll for an article in their obscure journals.