Mr. Vincent and Ms. Tuaiz [his interpreter] were kidnapped around 7 p.m. Tuesday, as they left a moneychanger's shop in downtown Basra, by at least two men dressed in police uniforms and driving a police sedan, said a witness who spoke on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.
Fearing to appear like colonial occupiers, they avoid any hint of ideological indoctrination: in my time with them, not once did I see an instructor explain such basics of democracy as the politically neutral role of the police in a civil society. Nor did I see anyone question the alarming number of religious posters on the walls of Basran police stations. When I asked British troops if the security sector reform strategy included measures to encourage cadets to identify with the national government rather than their neighborhood mosque, I received polite shrugs: not our job, mate.
The results are apparent. At the city's university, for example, self-appointed monitors patrol the campuses, ensuring that women's attire and makeup are properly Islamic. "I'd like to throw them off the grounds, but who will do it?" a university administrator asked me. "Most of our police belong to the same religious parties as the monitors."
But what nobody seems to consider is the impact this change in rationale should have on our goals for Iraq. It would incredibly disrespectful to the 25,000 or so dead if we were to replace Saddam Hussein's stable but authoritarian Iraq with an equally authoritarian regime. An Iraqi theocracy where critical elements of liberal democracy are missing would represent a failure.