James Dobbins, a Rand Corp. national security expert, told the newspaper on Election Day, that change would come regardless of the outcome.
"Our elections have artificially polarized the debate and left us with a false choice between 'stay the course' and 'cut and run.' But there are a number of options between keeping 160,000 troops on the ground and just pulling out," Dobbins said.
Various sources told the newspaper the options include a diplomatic push to get Iraq's neighbors more actively involved in preventing a sectarian civil war, more diplomacy to encourage Iraq to share oil revenue more equitably among its regions and even some U.S. troop reductions.
Michael O'Hanlon, a military affairs specialist at the Brookings Institution in Washington said even a gradual reduction of troops "would focus the minds of Iraqi political leaders that they don't have forever and it reduces the perception of an occupying power that drives the insurgency."