Casualty report: The sweeps in Iraq have been so successful that the Americans have arrested a colonel. At this rate, in another, say, one hundred years we might imprison the whole of the Iraqi officer corps. That has the advantage of giving us a political corps, since Americans are also appointing former Ba'athist military guys to ruling positions in Iraqi cities, and blocking elections.

The NYT (AP) issues this report: "Rocket-propelled grenades slammed into U.S. military vehicles in two attacks in and around Baghdad on Tuesday, and an explosion at a mosque in the town of Fallujah killed 10 Iraqis and injured four others. Meanwhile, unidentified assailants in a pickup truck gunned down the head of Saddam Hussein's tribe while he was riding in a car in the former dictator's hometown of Tikrit, the local governor said Tuesday. "

According to the Middle East news, the attack in Baghdad is worse than Cencom is yet willing to affirm:

"BAGHDAD, YUSUFIYEH & FALLUJAH, Iraq - Four US soldiers were killed and two others wounded Tuesday in a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) attack on their vehicle by unknown assailants in central Baghdad, witnesses said.The attack occurred at 10:00 am (0600 GMT) when assailants fired an RPG on a US Humvee light multi-wheeled vehicle near a gas station in the al-Mustansiriya neighborhood, they said.Four US troops were killed and two others wounded, they said. The casualties were immediately removed from the scene.An Iraqi civilian was also wounded and taken to hospital, said the witnesses, confirming that his 18-seat transport bus parked by the gas station was completely burnt."

Recently, Bremer cancelled elections in Najaf. This had the effect of prolonging the rule of Abu Haydar Abdul Mun'im, who had been placed in the position of governor in Najaf by the Military. Today he was arrested by the military for a few petty crimes: theft, kidnapping, graft. The NYT story explains:

"...Abu Haydar Abdul Mun'im, who had been put in place by a Marine lieutenant colonel in April, comes on the heels of the cancellation of Najaf's first general election about two weeks ago by allied officials. At the time, they asserted that conditions in Najaf were not suitable yet for an election.
Today, Charles Heatley, a spokesman for the occupation authority, said an investigation of Mr. Mun'im over the past few weeks had been based on a "large amount of evidence from a number of people.""We've always said we would make mistakes," Mr. Heatley said."

That's big of 'em.

We knew why, approximately, we were in Vietnam. But it is becoming unclear why we are in Iraq. Are we there to structure an autonomous Iraqi government, or are we there to exploit the place for our own convenience? It looks increasingly like the D.C. plan was to do the latter, thinking that it was in perfect concord with the former. Unbelievable as it seems, nobody seems to have asked if US interest and Iraq interest could, just possibly, conflict. In American Outlook, a conservative mag from the Hudson Institute, there is a cynical article by Irwin Stelzer, a rightwinger pur et dur.

"Bremer�s vision for the [oil] industry, indeed for Iraq�s economy, is worthy of Margaret Thatcher at her free-market best. He sees an economy in which state-owned and supported industries are starved of the subsidies that sustained them under the Saddam regime, in which domestic markets are open to free trade, and in which prices, exchange rates, and other variables are set by market forces. The oil industry would be operated for the benefit of the Iraqi people. And the new Iraq would set an example so irresistible that other Middle East oil producers would be forced to adopt the new model.

Why Bremer and Washington�s policymakers think that the seeds of free enterprise will bear fruit in the desert soil of Iraq is something of a mystery�a triumph of hope over experience. After all, no oil-producing country in the region has shown the slightest interest in such a model, the young protesters in Iran being a possible exception."

Stelzer goes on to analyze American plans to use Iraq as a pressure point on OPEC, and he is quite clear about who benefits in this scenario:

"The one ray of hope is that Iraq�s skilled technicians will ramp up production more rapidly than now seems likely, and that the nation�s need for cash will force it to violate OPEC quotas, pushing prices down. America and other consuming countries would benefit from cheaper oil, an economic stimulant equivalent to a tax cut, but with none of the long-term adverse effects on interest rates and investment that the Bush cuts are likely to produce."

Stelzer mentions a commonly mentioned plan: the split up of Iraq's nationalized oil company into six private companies, which would be sold to American or British companies. The cynicism of this vision is breathtaking. It is hard to believe that the American occupation, after having experienced the deaths and looting and disarray and Iraqi impatience for self government on the ground, would actually be heading in this direction. This really would be making true the protest in the anti-war chant, no blood for oil.