An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq - or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat.
For more on what a "hasty retreat" might look like, see Dunkirk and the Frozen Chosen.
"They know they are operating under a clock. They know they are going to hear a lot more talk in Washington about 'Plan B' by the autumn - meaning withdrawal. They know the next six-month period is their opportunity. And they say it's getting harder every day," he said.
US officials say they also have rising hopes of a breakthrough in Sunni-dominated Anbar province where tribal chiefs are increasingly hostile to al-Qaida and foreign fighters - and are looking to build bridges with moderate Shias.
But this week's US decision to join talks on Iraq with Iran and Syria, after previously refusing to do so, is nevertheless seen as an indication of the administration's growing alarm at the possibility of a historic strategic failure.
"Growing alarm", huh? Well, I'm glad something finally got the maladministration's attention. You only have to hit a mule in the head with a 2x4 a coupla times to do that, but then a mule is a lot smarter than Bush.
As I've said before, not only did Bush do the wrong thing by starting his war and occupation, he did the thing wrong out of the gate by letting Rumsfeld and Bremer be in charge. The Iraq misadventure was doomed from the start by a combination of idiocy and karma.
Thank you, Brit Press. I wonder if we'll see mention of this this in our own media.