President Bush made this statement on the elections in Iran:
Iran is ruled by men who suppress liberty at home and spread terror across the world. Power is in the hands of an unelected few who have retained power through an electoral process that ignores the basic requirements of democracy. The June 17th presidential elections are sadly consistent with this oppressive record. Iran’s rulers denied more than a thousand people who put themselves forward as candidates, including popular reformers and women who have done so much for the cause of freedom and democracy in Iran.
I welcome this plain talking about the need for democracy. But I would like to see it applied consistently. Where are the strong denouncements about lack of democracy and human rights in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan? (And, even less likely, Israel?) This inconsistency matters because it is difficult to take these criticisms seriously as a principled stand for democracy and human rights when the US ignores similar or worse lack of democracy in countries that it find strategically useful. They just seem to want to pick a fight with Iran.