The concept of gradually bringing troops home to put pressure on Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki into galvanizing his own security forces was common in Democratic campaigning before the Nov. 7 elections but retired Gen. Anthony Zinni, the former head of the U.S. Central Command, told the Times the notion has risks.
"The logic of this is you put pressure on Maliki and force him to stand up to this," Zinni said. "Well, you can't put pressure on a wounded guy. I am not so sure they are capable of stopping sectarian violence."
Other critics said Shiite leaders could see fewer U.S. troops as an opportunity to unleash their militias against the Sunnis and engage in ethnic cleansing that could lead to a full-blown civil war, the Times said.