The British and American governments have avoided the use of "civil war" to describe the situation in Iraq, but this only denies the obvious, namely that significant numbers of people are being killed by their own countrymen because of their sectarian identity.
BBC NEWS | UK | Iraq civil war warning for Blair: "William Patey, who left the Iraqi capital last week, also predicted the break-up of Iraq along ethnic lines.
He did also say that 'the position is not hopeless' - but said it would be 'messy' for five to 10 years.
Mr Blair said the violence was designed to put extremists in charge rather than leaders committed to democracy.
'What should our response be? However difficult it is, stay the course, stand up for those people who want democracy, stand up for those people who are fighting sectarianism, stand up for a different vision of the Middle East based on democracy, liberty, the rule of law,' he told reporters.
The Foreign Office said it did not comment on leaked documents but added that Iraqi security forces were getting more capable every day."