In Iraq

Word, first of all that 14 Marines were killed by a bomb in a place called Haditha. Six more were killed there the day before yesterday. So far, 22 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq in the first three days of August.

Then there’s this: Steven Vincent, a freelance writer and blogger who had an op-ed piece in this past Sunday’s New York Times describing Basra’s police force and its growing allegiance to religious parties rather than the national government (or citizens), has been killed. He and his interpreter were kidnapped and shot, and the thinking is that he was assassinated because of his recent reporting. I haven’t read a lot of his stuff — his blog, occasionally, but not his Iraq book, “In the Red Zone” — but he struck me as a meticulously honest observer who was trying to look at the war in terms of the people we say we’re trying to help. Someone capable of seeing what is at stake for ordinary citizens in this struggle and the big gap between our declared ideals and goals and our execution. For instance, one of his last posts, “The Naive American.”

[Later: The New York Times did a nice short profile on Vincent. Among other things, turns out he was a Bay Area kid who went to Cal.]