Quote: "On the current course we will have two options. We can lose in Iraq and destroy our army, or we can just lose." Anonymous Marine lieutenant colonel quoted by James Fallows in the Atlantic Monthly.
Figure of Speech: dilemma, the damned-if-you-do-or-don't figure.
We take many figures for granted, including the dilemma (Greek for "double proposition"). Offering an opponent two unsavory choices, it's one of the toughest figures to rebut.
In this case, though, the officer is less pessimistic than he sounds. To get out of the dilemma, he says, change the course. Ramp up the training of Iraq's army. Of course, that means the administration will have to devote more time to hard work and less time to slogans.
Snappy Answer: "Which option will bring us victory?"