All the signs are that America's long agony in Iraq will soon be over, if not this year then next. The mindset for a withdrawal is already in place, if not yet the detailed timetable. That, however, cannot be long delayed.
The pledge by Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, to keep US forces in Iraq until 'victory' is not only rash, but also largely meaningless.
He is running against a powerful trend of public opinion in both the US and Iraq.
Democratic contender Senator Barack Obama, who leads McCain in the polls, has shown a better grasp of political reality by promising to end the war and bring the boys home.
US strategic attention is shifting increasingly from Iraq to Afghanistan. To fight on in Afghanistan - and to have a chance to stem the flow of foreign Islamists pouring into Pakistan's tribal areas on Afghanistan's borders - the US must disengage from Iraq.
Rightly or wrongly, the Afghan war is seen as a 'war of necessity', in contrast to the Iraq war, increasingly seen as a 'war of choice.'
A new political landscape is emerging in the Middle East as local powers adjust to the winding down of the Iraq war.
The UAE, for example, has cancelled $7 billion dollars of Iraq's debt and has vowed to send an ambassador to Baghdad.
Iraq is soon to start talks with Kuwait aimed at reducing the very large payments it has been making to its small neighbour in compensation for the 1990 invasion.
During a recent visit to Baghdad, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to help with Iraqi reconstruction, while Baghdad in turn promised to help contain the PKK, the Kurdish revolutionary workers party, which has been raiding Turkey from bases in northern Iraq.
Iran, meanwhile, has made very clear that it wants to see US troops leave Iraq as soon as possible, a point of view echoed by the prominent Iraqi religious authority, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani.
Such regional and domestic pressures have no doubt contributed to inducing Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to call for a memorandum of understanding with the US providing either for the departure of US forces or, at least, for a timetable for their withdrawal.
It looks, therefore, as if the US may not be able to secure the two pacts it hoped for from Iraq - a status-of-forces agreement defining the legal protections and responsibilities of US troops, and a 'strategic framework' shaping America's future political and military relations with Iraq.
Instead, in the US, opinion is hardening in favour of full military withdrawal; diplomatic engagement with Iraq's neighbours (Iran, Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) to secure their political assistance and a generous US contribution to rebuilding Iraq and relieving the hardship of the four to five million Iraqi refugees.
These are among the main recommendations of a high-level study group convened by James P McGovern, a Democratic member of the US House of Representatives, who has long campaigned against the Iraq war.
He is the author of a resolution that would force President George W Bush to end the war.
In a report last May, McGovern's study group called for a timetable for American withdrawal, a short-term renewal of the United Nations mandate authorising the presence of US troops in Iraq rather than a U.S.-Iraqi bilateral agreement, a pan-Arab conference on Iraqi reconciliation and massive financial support for an Iraq Development Fund.
A US withdrawal from Iraq will not be welcomed by everyone.
The US-backed Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq will feel a touch of nervousness, as will Kuwait.
Traumatised by Iraq's 1990 invasion, Kuwait would prefer Iraq to be permanently divided and enfeebled.
In turn, the Sunnis of Iraq would like their future participation in a Shia-dominated government assured before US troops pull out. These worries are legitimate.
But what seems clear is that, in spite of its immense problems, Iraq is on its way to independent recovery.
Perhaps the best index is that its armed forces have now grown to 566,000.