The opposite of a bird's eye view--describes a situation viewed up close or the people in a position to view a situation up close, in detail. Typically used by someone at a level of remove from the situation being discussed. George Bush uses this phrase frequently to describe the situation in Iraq or the troops in Iraq--i.e., to refer to the reality, with which he is only faintly acquainted.
the situation on the ground
the troops on the ground
Far off in Washington or at best confined to the Baghdad Green Zone, the American leadership had only a vague knowledge of the actual situation on the ground, so the extent of sectarian violence caught them by surprise and completely ruined their luftslott dreams of democratizing the Middle East by deposing Saddam.
Pie in the sky. Pipe dreams. It's Swedish (I think) for "air castles." Silly far-fetched dreams.
Richard Perle: I can save my reputation as architect of the disastrous Iraq war by blaming everything on Bush.
Historian 200 years later (laughing sagely at this example of Neocon luftslott): Yeah, uh huh, and Iraq was ready for democracy, too.