Many Americans are ready to accept defeat in Iraq. William Shawcross and Peter Rodman, two intellectuals who have not always agreed with each other, coauthor a piece today comparing the killing fields we left behind in Vietnam to what would happen if we leave Iraq: 

“Today, in Iraq, there should be no illusion that defeat would come at an acceptable price. George Orwell wrote that the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. But anyone who thinks an American defeat in Iraq will bring a merciful end to this conflict is deluded. Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences.

“As in Indochina more than 30 years ago, millions of Iraqis today see the United States helping them defeat their murderous opponents as the only hope for their country. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have committed themselves to working with us and with their democratically elected government to enable their country to rejoin the world as a peaceful, moderate state that is a partner to its neighbors instead of a threat. If we accept defeat, these Iraqis will be at terrible risk. Thousands upon thousands of them will flee, as so many Vietnamese did after 1975.”

Shawcross and Rodman also have an interesting observation about one positive accomplishment of our failed policy in Vietnam:

“And despite the defeat in 1975, America’s 10 years in Indochina had positive effects. Lee Kuan Yew, then prime minister of Singapore, has well articulated how the consequences would have been worse if the United States had not made the effort in Indochina. ‘Had there been no U.S. intervention,’ he argues, the will of non-communist countries to resist communist revolution in the 1960s ‘would have melted and Southeast Asia would most likely have gone communist.’ The domino theory would have proved correct.”

I predict that, if we pull out of Iraq, the domino theory will once again be proven right-our surrender would be catastrophic for the Middle East. And for us.