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: Should we export democracy?
Armitage: Well if I were talking to the next president, I would say first of all that mothers and fathers who founded our revolution were people who believed . . . who founded our nation to partner our revolution were people who believe passionately in the message of that revolution. And the message of that revolution was human rights, human freedoms. That is democracy. And every single post-war president has shared in a vision of a world made more benign and safer by the United States, which is engaged across the board in the protection of human freedoms and human rights. But I think I would use other terms. I would use the term “reform”. I think to the extent reforms are put into place, then that leads to a growing middle class which is a necessity for a democracy to stick. You have to have the institutions to support the framework of democracy. That’s a free press. Those are parties. Those are understanding of the theory and practice of democracy. And you have to have a rule of law. You can’t impose those from the top down. They have to be developed. So I would be talking about reform which leads to democracy, not democracy which leads to reform.