I found the op-ed "Switched Off in Basra" a particularly good read, so I was a bit dismayed to find that its author, Stephen Vincent, was murdered yesterday:

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.

While it would be simple to dismiss this as just another example of the strength of the West-hating Iraqi insurgency, the subject of Vincent's op-ed make this impossible. Vincent wrote about the influence that Shi'ite religious groups had on the police and other governmental organizations in Basra, part of the British sector in southern Iraq. Interestingly, the BBC News article covering his death glosses over one of the primary points of his op-ed - that while the British were doing an adequate job in training the Basra police to combat insurgency, they were failing to teach them any respect for human rights or liberal democracy.
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."

In the absence of weapons of mass destruction, freedom for the Iraqi people became the raison d'être for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Instead of saving ourselves from the spectre of nuclear terrorism, we were saving the Iraqi people from the nightmare of chemical weapon attacks, torture rooms, and mass graves.

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.