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Green Zoners are still hoping against hope it doesn't come to that. Pairing familiar words in odd new ways, Ambassador Khalilzad recently told a Washington audience that Americans need to be "tactically patient" and "strategically optimistic" about Iraq's future. On his first official visit to Britain and the U.S. two weeks ago, al-Maliki also told the Blair and Bush administrations what they wanted to hear: that a civil war could be averted.
But at least the Prime Minister has stopped trying to spin his own people. A few days before he left for Britain and the U.S., a desperate al-Maliki gave a televised speech to his parliament, pleading with his fellow politicians to set aside their differences. Looking like a man at his wit's end, he warned that national reconciliation was one "last chance" to avert a civil war: "If it fails, I don't know what the destiny of Iraq will be." For a second, I thought I recognized the expression on his face. It's the one I had seen on the faces of my fellow passengers on the flight into Baghdad--that mixture of fear and resignation, just before the descent into hell.
To submit questions to Aparisim Ghosh about life in Baghdad, visit time.com