Richard Armitage was the 13th United States Deputy Secretary of State, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and then after the fall of Saigon moved to Washington D.C. to work as a consultant for the United States Department of Defense, which sent him to Tehran and Bangkok.
Throughout the late 70s and early 80s, Armitage worked as an aide and foreign policy advisor to politicians including Senator Bob Dole and President-elect Ronald Reagan. When Reagan was elected, Armitage was appointed to the Department of Defense. In the 1990s, Armitage worked in the private sector before being confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State with the election of George W. Bush in 2001. He left the post in 2005.
Armitage was educated at the United States Naval Academy. He is an avid bodybuilder, and speaks many languages, including Vietnamese.
Question: How do you explain the rise of Islamic fundamentalism?
Armitage: Certainly there has been a rise in the region. Just pick up your paper any day and look at the bombings in Saudi Arabia, or over in Morocco, over in Algeria recently, etc. But it’s not only a rise of fundamentalism which is directed against the west and western interests. There is also a great battle going on within Islam. And the battle is shaped around the question of, “Can a Muslim be modern, entrepreneurial and still a pious Muslim? Or must we return to the days of the Caliphate?” This is something that has to be resolved among and between the 1.2 billion adherents of Islam. And I would note that this is even more, however, confined to the Middle East. I wouldn’t say necessarily the 200 million Muslims in Indonesia are particularly playing the game of modernity versus the Caliphate. They’ve made their decision. They made their decision through the ballot box to opt for modernity and still be practicing Muslims. So it’s primarily confined to the Middle East.