Now that the Democrats effectively control Congress, it's no longer enough for them simply to attack the administration for its past incompetence and recklessness in Iraq.
They have to come up with some serious and convincing strategies of their own. So far, they have completely failed to do so.
With any real hopes for democratic or even effective central government in Iraq now dead, the Bush administration no longer even really knows what it is aiming at in that country. On the other hand, for the United States simply to bolt, leaving Iraq to plunge into civil war and utter chaos would be both morally shameful and a shattering blow to U.S. prestige throughout the world.
The only way in which America can now extricate itself from Iraq with some honor, while limiting the conflict there, is to appeal to Iraq's neighbors for help.
They are the only states which have both the ability to rein in the groups fighting in Iraq and vital interests in preventing Iraq from breaking up completely.
This means doing something that some individual U.S. politicians from both parties have advocated, but that both the Bush administration and the Democratic leadership have so far rejected: opening direct talks, without preconditions, with the Iranians and Syrians.
They, along with the Saudis and the Turks, are the essential building blocks of a regional concert that can exercise at least some control over the situation in Iraq after the U.S. departure.
This will almost certainly mean accepting a de facto confederal Iraq divided into different regions based on the country's three main ethno-religious groupings - something that is happening anyway.
However, all the states bordering on Iraq oppose breaking Iraq up altogether and allowing the parts to become fully independent. They may therefore be both willing and able to provide forces that would at least prevent full-scale civil war and preserve Baghdad as a neutral national capital.
None of Iraq's neighbors want a civil war that would risk them being drawn in on opposite sides and that would spread instability across the whole region. The United States too has a vital interest in preventing this, especially given the implications of such a conflict for the price of oil and the spread of Islamist extremism.
For America to bring Iran and Syria into regional talks would also begin a process of mutual confidence-building that could also lead to progress on other critical issues, including Iran's nuclear program, relations with Hezbollah and Israel, Israeli-Palestinian peace and the future of Afghanistan.
It is essential that any future U.S. strategy treat these issues as linked, and not continue with the hopeless task of trying to solve them in isolation.
In particular, as the king of Jordan has yet again emphasized, there can be no hope of lasting success against instability and Islamist extremism without a genuine and determined new push for a just Israeli- Palestinian peace settlement.
This proposal does not mean seeking a quick "grand bargain" with Iran, something that hardly seems possible as long as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad remains president.
It does mean Republicans and Democrats having the moral courage to face certain obvious facts. These include that thanks mainly to America's own actions, Iran is now in a much stronger regional position; that to try to exclude Iran from major influence in Iraq and Afghanistan is now impossible; and that however unfortunate this may be, Iran's support for Hezbollah's struggle with Israel has the approval of most Muslims.
In these circumstances, for America to go on refusing to talk directly to the Iranians is doing more damage to the United States than to Iran.
It is doing even worse damage to Iraq and Afghanistan - countries for which the United States has taken responsibility, and which will be extremely dependent on Iranian good will.
Talking to Iran and Syria will mean a certain loss of face for the United States. Any eventual overall settlement with these countries will fall short of maximum U.S. and Israeli wishes.
But elected U.S. officials need to have the courage to ask themselves the following tough questions, and then act upon the answers: Given what has happened in Iraq, does America have any chance of achieving its present stated goals with regard to Iran and Syria?
If not, when is it better to start looking for a compromise: today, or in two years' time, when thousands more U.S. servicemen will have been killed and maimed?