For the Pentagon it seems this is it. Either the current "surge" works or it's time to head for the door and get out of Iraq.
As hard as that may be to believe, the LA Times quotes Pentagon sources as saying it may be time to start gradually withdrawing US troops and concentrate mainly on training Iraqi troops rather than fighting the insurgency.
"'This part of the world has an allergy against foreign presence,' said a senior Pentagon official, adding that chances of success with a large U.S. force may be diminishing. 'You have a window of opportunity that is relatively short. Your ability to influence this with a large U.S. force eventually gets to the point that it is self-defeating.'
"The new round of planning is taking place in an atmosphere of extraordinary tension within the Pentagon, which is grappling with a war about to enter its fifth year and going poorly on the ground while straining U.S. forces worldwide.
"At the same time, the war has created divisions within the Pentagon. Some support the new commander in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who advocates using more American forces to protect Baghdad neighborhoods, whereas others back the position of Gen. John P. Abizaid, the retiring commander for the Mideast, who favored handing responsibility more quickly to Iraqis."
There are some, notably in the White House, who believe that even talking about withdrawal will make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.