BAGHDAD, IRAQ, Oct. 8, 2006 — -- Though American troops claimed victory today in a battle against Shiite militiamen in the southern city of Diwaniyah, few people still have illusions that the bigger picture in Iraq is anything but grim.
Twenty-seven Americans have been killed in the past week, and the number of U.S. wounded is at its highest level in two years.
Dozens of dead Iraqis turn up on Baghdad's streets every day. U.S. troops have been drawn into the capital to improve security because Iraqis cannot trust their own police force.
"Citizens have no trust in the government," said an Iraqi, Hussein Abd Mo'min. "The security forces have been penetrated by militias."
"It is fair to say U.S. strategy has failed," said Fareed Zakaria, an ABC News consultant and the editor of Newsweek International.
Already, U.S. officials in Iraq and in Washington are looking for a new approach. No change is likely until after the November elections, when former Secretary of State James Baker will report back to the president on policy options for Iraq.
But some of the staunchest supporters of the war in Iraq are calling for a rethink -- and setting deadlines.
"[The] Next 60 to 90 days are critical," said Sen. John Warner, R-Va., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "If these movements do not bring about reduction in killings … we got to make some bold decisions in our country."
Last week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Baghdad to tell Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki the security situation "cannot be tolerated."
There appears to many to be no easy ways out of the war. But decisions may need to be made.
"We need a set of strategies that limit failure, rather than achieving success," Zakaria said. "Iraq is not going to be a model democracy."