The Saddam H. capture is being touted as the next step in the re-election of George Bush. We don�t think so.

We do think the capture is great news. It is a definitely a moment � one of those political moments Montesquieu discussed in �Considerations sur la cause de la grandeurs des Romains:� an event that suddenly signals the loosening of the grip of fate.

LI thought, after the fall of Baghdad, that Saddam must surely be dead. In the last couple months, however, that theory was clearly wrong, dependent as it was on an exaggerated sense of what the American military can do with their laser directed bombs. But that Saddam the Meat Hustler still existed in the flesh (and, pixilated, on video) has burdened the resistance much more than the occupiers. In spite of the American media�s insistence that the fear of Hussein in the souks was the final impediment to the flowers and candy that the American occupiers naturally deserved, we thought, on the contrary, that the inability of the resistance to capitalize, politically, on the three major aspects of the Occupation�s rule: 1., the power invested in a non-Iraqi proconsul, Paul Bremer, 2., the appearance of power invested in a rabble of exile frauds, the Council, and 3, the destruction of the bases of the political economy of Iraq since the fifties, demonstrated the ideological vacuum created by the wholesale corruption and homicide that characterized Saddam H.�s reign. It was, on a deep level, a more complete surrender than the fall of Baghdad.

With Saddam rendered irrelevant, the third factor in Iraqi politics can now come into play � and come into play in such a way as to disturb Wolfowitz�s dream of Pax Chile on the Euphrates. That third factor is the Shi�ite demand for elections. Americans have been blocking this demand, because the American backplan is to somehow thrust a Chalabi or Chalabi like figure on Iraq. This thrusting was to be called democracy, not rape. So far, with Chalabi, it has pretty much failed � except of course with that old warhorse, Washington Post�s Sally Quinn, whose birdbrained paen to Chalabi we have already commented on (or is it stomped to death?).

In our opinion, the combinations now at work in Iraq are about to tumble to a new configuration. And this is not going to make the Pentagon happy. Our bet, right now, is that the following will emerge as the combination of forces in Iraq in the next, oh, two or three months:

The resistance will continue. It is a headless resistance. Whether it gets a brain will make a lot of difference, here. Our bet is that it won�t.

The Council is going to have to over-reach or dissolve. They�ve been put in an impossible middle position by the Americans. The question of who and how and for what Saddam H. is tried is going to be a point around which the Council will have to concentrate, for good or ill. We think that the Council, which is as brainless as the resistance, will try to over-reach and submit at the same time, and that it just won�t work any more. Alienating its patron, and alienated from its land, the Council will change radically.

Southern Iraq, assured by Saddam�s capture, will finally show a restiveness that America can ill afford. This, we think, will shape whatever happens next in Iraq. As to what that shape will be --- we have no idea. In truth, the Bushies have been so blinded to what is happening in Iran that they don�t realize that the conservative mullahs are, ideologically, their best friends. We think the clerical Shi�a elite, which has obtained a considerable amount of capital, is eager to find an excuse to privatize, and to inject its capital into the global monetary flows. Whether that influences the Shi�a elite in Iraq is something we don�t know enough about to predict.

Montesquieu, in the Considerations, makes a very shrewd remark: Ce qui g�te presque toutes les affaires, c�est qu�ordinairement ceux qui les entreprennent, outre la r�ussite principale, cherchent encore de certains petits succ�s particuliers, qui flattent leur amour-propre et les rendent contents d�eux.

(What spoils almost all affairs is that ordinarily, those who undertake them seek, outside of the principle goal, certain small particular successes, which flatter their amour-propre and make them satisfied with themselves).

This is the history of the last six months of the occupation of Iraq.