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Small boards and narrow streets

Richard Galpin delivers what he himself describes as a highly eccentric, unscientific and personalised analysis of Iraq. For humble introductions read fresh thinking from the BBC correspondent. Forget once dangerous areas that are now safe after the US troop surge. Consider instead who the Americans are arming, the look of despair upon a friend’s face, the size of the board in Galpin’s office… and the width of a street.

 The US is arming Sunni militias to restore order, much to the alarm of majority Shiites. This could be a “recipe for all out civil war.”

 Galpin’s friend’s face shows despair, for he is trying to persuade his family to leave the country, which has become too dangerous a place to raise a family.

 The board in Galpin’s office lists the daily bombings, killings and kidnappings in Iraq. "Last week we decided the board was too small. We needed something bigger."

 The width of Galpin’s street in Baghdad has gradually narrowed as each building has huge concrete blast-barriers placed in front of it.

The White House is unlikely to consider such indicators when assessing the situation. Perhaps it should.

Ignoring the wife

Do as we say and not as we do