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The Precedents for Withdrawal

From Vietnam to Iraq

Author: Bennett Ramberg
March/April 2009
Foreign Affairs


As Washington ponders how long to stay in Iraq, it would do well to examine the strategic impact of the United States' withdrawal from Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, Lebanon in the 1980s, and Somalia in the 1990s. In each case, disengagement eventually proved to be the right policy. With Iraq, too, getting out sooner rather than later is the United States' best chance to protect its interests.

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