Washington at last appears to be acknowledging the grim reality that its strategy for rebuilding Iraq is failing. It has taken six months and the loss of many lives, but indications of a shift in policy are beginning to emerge. Take the latest visit by Iraq's US governor Paul Bremer to the White House. This was arranged so hastily that it resulted in the embarrassing cancellation of his appointment in Baghdad with the Polish prime minister. Mr Bremer was summoned for consultations with top US national security advisers, a move which bears all the hallmarks of a crisis meeting. Then there is the leaking of a secret CIA report which paints a gloomy picture. It warns that efforts by the US-led coalition to rebuild Iraq are in danger of collapse unless fresh action is taken. A turning point has been reached, it says. Precisely the same phrase was used by Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the leading American commander in Iraq, when expressing concern about the escalating attacks by insurgents. He promised a more aggressive military approach. This would seem to be already under way, with US jets dropping bombs on terrorist targets. Is this a resumption of major combat operations? It looks suspiciously like it. There would appear to be a link between these three events - all of them reflect a growing belief that a dose of reality needs to be injected into US policy. While George W. Bush and other officials continue to trot out upbeat assessments about the progress being made, there has clearly been a realisation that the current approach is not working. The leaking of the report is being seen as an attempt to get the message across to Mr Bush, who has become accustomed to the more positive assessments favoured by his senior advisers. A similar motive may lie behind the use by General Sanchez of the word 'war' to describe the situation facing the coalition. It comes more than six months after President Bush declared an end to major combat operations in the country. The meeting with Mr Bremer is believed to be aimed at speeding up the transition of political power to the Iraqi people, perhaps by adopting measures which the US has previously shunned. It looks as if a turning point may, indeed, have been reached. The doom-mongers - notably the French - who said the US-led war on terror would end in catastrophe are now seeing their predictions come true. US troops did not, as some believed, get bogged down in a Vietnam-style situation in the mountains of Afghanistan. And there was no bloodbath in the battle for Baghdad. But their forecast that the struggle to bring peace and security to Iraq would be a desperate one has materialised. A policy rethink is long overdue. The US is unhappy with the failure of the Iraqi governing council it appointed to speed up the drafting of a new constitution. A December 15 deadline, imposed by the United Nations, for a timetable for its drafting and for elections is looming. One of the options being considered is installing an interim leader, similar to Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, until elections can be held. Such an appointment could provide much-needed leadership and someone who could drive forward the transfer of power to the Iraqi people. But finding a candidate acceptable to most Iraqis will not be easy. Electing a constitutional convention, or preparing a temporary constitution, are also possibilities. What is most important, though, is that there is a change in mindset on the part of the US. The effort to rebuild Iraq must be made the responsibility of the international community, through the UN. And the country must be swiftly returned to the Iraqi people. Accepting that a turning point has been reached is a good start. Now the US needs to choose the right direction to take.