The issue is whether they can tolerate this discrimination. Some already have given their answer: No. There's been an uptick this month in Sunni-related violence by Jaysh al Islami, the 1920s Revolutionary brigade and outsiders.
On the ground, where the questions will be answered, it's clear that the government of Iraq is serious about the new "no Americans in cities" orders. Several U.S. patrols have been turned around, says a soldier who used to go out on them.
Unless a patrol is with one of the new Transition Teams, which include Iraqi forces, or unless Iraq's Baghdad Operations Center greenlights them, Americans are confined to their perimeter bases. "Logpack" or supply convoys can move on their own from midnight to 4 or 5 a.m.
Some Americans, especially those who served earlier tours when they were the Jolly Tan Giants and could run passenger cars off the roads, don't like the new rules.
"If some higher-ups are trying to get around them (the rules), it's because they are used to having their own way," says this soldier. "Arrogance, in my very, very quiet opinion."
Another American soldier in Baghdad says that "most combat units, where I am, are spending time training. No one is sitting idly by. No one wants to be caught with their pants down and are training to keep from getting too complacent."
Hashim Ammar, a 31-year-old government employee, speaks for many Iraqis about the June 30 handover of security to Iraqi forces: "I feel the situation is a little bit better, but my hope is not to see them (Americans) in Ir aq at all."
Most Iraqis want us gone. For all the soccer balls handed out to Iraqi street kids by American grunts--the "soft power" the best analysts say is required for a successful counterinsurgency--nearly every Iraqi has been touched by American "hard power." Nearly every Iraqi knows someone who has been killed or wounded by an American.
They see Americans as occupiers. They want the occupiers out.
Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, the strongest leader since Saddam, must balance all these competing domestic interests, plus the U.S., plus Iran. So far, he's done better than most anybody would have predicted. One sheikh who's dealt with him described him as a man holding a pen with all eight fingers and two thumbs. "Can this pen ever write anything useful?" he asked.
But let's say, as author Tom Ricks does in his latest book, "The Gamble," that we're only about halfway through the Iraq adventure. That means men and forces we don't even know about today can influence or determine Iraq's destiny.
After eight years of Bush administration bluster about missions accomplished, and eight months of Obama's vaporous hope and change, it's best to remain skeptical about official pronouncements. But it's clear that Iraq is now at a crossroads, a tipping point.
Iraqis are in charge. Americans are leaving. Can tribal sheikhs control sectarian violence through the traditional blood-money compensation system? Can they reconcile past and present grievances before they spin out of control, as happened two years ago? Can Maliki's administration keep the Kurds from seceding in the north? Can it keep Iran's influence benign?
Historically, says one American army officer, "The hardest part in winning any battle is conducting a successful pursuit to exploit an unexpected victory. The first step is recognizing when is the time to begin the pursuit. Is it time to begin the pursuit?"
Some bright people are optimistic. Iraq's ambassador to the U.S., Samir Sumaida'ie, said in June that he was.