A SOLDIER friend stationed in Baghdad for the past two months has been sending me emails with such arresting lines as: "It's late here and I [have] to get the Chief of Staff back to the Palace."
From his office in the fortified military and government area, the Green Zone, he scans the web for news about Iraq and compares it with his reality.
"Baghdad is not burning down around my ears," he wrote last week. "Things were tense a while back, but violence was within limits. Callous thing to say, but that is the reality around here."
The only "quagmire" he sees is "the soft patch of ground out by the rifle range and no civil war in sight".
He exhibits a soldier's sang-froid. "We are expecting to be very busy the next few days. The terrorists are extremely media savvy (it's the only area they get to win) and will be looking for big headlines. End of religious festival, big crowds and convening of new government."
But with the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion tomorrow, he says, "the only people who seem to have lost both their grip on reality and their nerve are the western media".