Now that the facade of legitimacy has worn off the Islamic Republic, it will be interesting to see if former officials like Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage will explain why they believed Iran was a democracy. Here is Armitage in February 2003, talking to the Los Angeles Times’ Robin Wright:
“The axis of evil was a valid comment, [but] I would note there’s one dramatic difference between Iran and the other two axes of evil, and that would be its democracy. [And] you approach a democracy differently,” Armitage said.
Questions for Armitage: By what metric did you judge the Islamic Republic to be a democracy? Was this the conclusion that your State Department colleagues and intelligence analysts had reached? Did our intelligence community err by depicting the Islamic Republic as a “democracy” in its briefings? Or were you just talking off-the-cuff without much knowledge of how the Iranian system worked?
It would certainly be interesting to hear Armitage explain his thinking today.