When you read this, keep in mind that for various reasons--not the least of which were safety concerns--the piece only scratches the surface of what is happening here...
...the fact that many, if not most, of Basra's constabulary harbors primary loyalties to the city's religious parties is--as you might imagine--a serious problem. To the despair of many secular-minded residents, the British are doing a cracker-jack job of teaching Iraqi police cadets close-order drills, proper arrest techniques and pistol marksmanship, without, however, including basic training in democratic principles and a sense of public duty. As a result, our Anglo allies may be handing the religious parties spiffy new myrmidons to augment their already well-armed militias.
On Tuesday, he was murdered:
Police said Steven Vincent had been shot multiple times after he and his Iraqi translator were abducted at gunpoint hours earlier…
Iraqi police in Basra said Vincent was abducted along with his female translator at gunpoint Tuesday evening. The translator, Nour Weidi, was seriously wounded.
Vincent and the translator were seized Tuesday afternoon by five gunmen in a police car as they left a currency exchange shop, police Lt. Col. Karim al-Zaidi said.
Vincent’s body was discovered on the side of the highway south of Basra later. He had been shot in the head and multiple times on his body, al-Zaidi said.
Steven Vincent's last piece in the New York Times contained this:
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.
I don’t think it’s about multicultural squeamishness, though I wouldn’t be surprised it this murder becomes an part of the ongoing narrative of British decadence currently being constructed by the American falange and their allies in Britain. My guess is that we’re operating in Basra the way we did in India when our control was uncertain, taking the chance to establish ourselves as major players in regional politics while deferring day to day administrative power to local groups led by someone with a beard and a bit of command presence, people capable of maintaining at least an outward show of order. And then along comes a freelancer, full of ideals, hot for democracy and making embarrassing revelations about all sorts of convenient arrangements. As a result, he dies.