The Islamist Republic of Iran’s system of government is “a political experiment” as “profound” as the United States’ and other Western nations’, and should therefore not be discredited in nuclear talks, according to former State Department official Hillary Mann Leverett.
Appearing on MSNBC on Monday, Leverett took issue with the American media’s characterization of the Iranian theocratic regime, explaining that Tehran’s modus operandi is “much more nuanced, sophisticated,” than it’s made out to be in the West. She went on to argue that the Supreme Leader of Iran is similar to a U.S. Supreme Court justice.
“It’s a very interesting system,” she said. “It’s, again, been caricatured in the United States for so long as this kind of crazed Islamist dictatorship when, in fact, it’s a political experiment, I think, as profound as perhaps the American system or the French system, trying to fuse Islamism with participatory politics.”
“Ayatollah Khamenei is in a sense like our Supreme Court justice: He has the final say, but he also does that not just in a legal way, but in a political way,” Leverett continued. “Underneath him, there are very much empowered parts of the system, not just a president but parliament, armed forces, just like the way our Pentagon often has a say, both in terms of budget and policy, theirs does too.”
But co-host Ari Melber didn’t quite buy Leverett’s explanation. “I think some might take exception to the comparison of the Ayatollah to a sort of a Chief Justice John Roberts,” he said.
#related#”I know what you mean, because they have a system,” Melber continued. “On the other hand, I think it’s fair to point out our Supreme Court is still appointed within our political system, answerable to it, and removable even. I don’t know if anyone over there can peacefully remove the Ayatollah.”
Leverett stood by her claim, and pushed back that because the ayatollah is selected, and is monitored, by a democratically elected Assembly of Experts.
— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.