Jeane Jordan, the daughter of an unsuccessful oil prospector, was born in Oklahoma on 19th November, 2006. After obtaining a MA in political science from Columbia University she joined the state department as an intelligence research analyst. She married Evron Kirkpatrick in 1955.
In 1962 Jeane Kirkpatrick became professor of political science at Georgetown University. She contributed to a large number of journals on the theme of communist subversion. Although she was a member of the Democratic Party she continued to hold extreme right-wing views. In response to the campaigns of George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy, Kirkpatrick helped establish the Coalition for a Democratic Majority (CDM). Kirkpatrick later stated that the purpose of this organization was to "reclaim the party from its anti-war, anti-growth and anti-business activists". The group included Neo-Conservatives such as Midge Decter, Irving Kristol, Max Kampelman and Norman Podhoretz. Members of the CDM went on to form the Project of the New American Century.
Kirkpatrick supported the nomination of Henry M. Jackson as the 1976 Democratic candidate. She was appalled when Jimmy Carter won the nomination. Over the next few years she emerged as one of Carter's main critics. Kirkpatrick argued strongly against the president's foreign policy that placed an emphasis on human rights.
In 1979 Kirkpatrick wrote an article for Commentary, entitled Entitled Dictatorships and Double Standards. The article argued that right-wing “authoritarian” governments, such as those in Argentina, Chile and South Africa, suited American interests better than left-wing regimes. She criticized the emphasis placed on human rights by Jimmy Carter and blamed it for undermining right-wing governments in Nicaragua and Iran. She went onto argue that right-wing dictatorships were reliably pro-American. She therefore proposed that the US government should treat authoritarian regimes much more favourably than other governments. Kirkpatrick added: "liberal idealism need not be identical with masochism and need not be incompatible with the defence of freedom and the national interest".
As Bill Van Auken has pointed out (Social Democrat to Champion of Death Squads): "The policy implications of Kirkpatrick’s thesis were unmistakable. Washington should seek to keep in power right-wing dictatorships, so long as they suppressed the threat of revolution and supported “American interests and policies.” Moreover, the limits placed by the Carter administration on relations with regimes that had carried out wholesale political killings and torture, as in Chile and Argentina, for example, should be cast aside."
Richard V. Allen, who was working as chief foreign policy adviser to Ronald Reagan, showed him the article. Reagan wrote to Kirkpatrick, where he told her it was the best article he had ever read on the subject. Soon afterwards, Kirkpatrick became one of Reagan's political advisors.
During the 1980 presidential campaign Reagan was informed that Jimmy Carter was attempting to negotiate a deal with Iran to get the American hostages released. This was disastrous news for the Reagan campaign. If Carter got the hostages out before the election, the public perception of the man might change and he might be elected for a second-term. As Michael K. Deaver later told the New York Times: "One of the things we had concluded early on was that a Reagan victory would be nearly impossible if the hostages were released before the election... There is no doubt in my mind that the euphoria of a hostage release would have rolled over the land like a tidal wave. Carter would have been a hero, and many of the complaints against him forgotten. He would have won."
According to Barbara Honegger, a researcher and policy analyst with the 1980 Reagan/Bush campaign, William J. Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.
On 22nd September, 1980, Iraq invaded Iran. The Iranian government was now in desperate need of spare parts and equipment for its armed forces. Jimmy Carter proposed that the US would be willing to hand over supplies in return for the hostages.
Once again, the Central Intelligence Agency leaked this information to Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. This attempted deal was also passed to the media. On 11th October, the Washington Post reported rumors of a “secret deal that would see the hostages released in exchange for the American made military spare parts Iran needs to continue its fight against Iraq”.
A couple of days before the election Barry Goldwater was reported as saying that he had information that “two air force C-5 transports were being loaded with spare parts for Iran”. This was not true. However, this publicity had made it impossible for Carter to do a deal. Ronald Reagan on the other hand, had promised the Iranian government that he would arrange for them to get all the arms they needed in exchange for the hostages.
In the election Ronald Reagan easily defeated Jimmy Carter by 44 million votes to 35 million. The Republican Party also won control of the Senate for the first time in 26 years. According to Mansur Rafizadeh, the former U.S. station chief of SAVAK, the Iranian secret police, CIA agents had persuaded Khomeini not to release the American hostages until Reagan was sworn in. In fact, they were released twenty minutes after his inaugural address.
Reagan appointed William J. Casey as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. In this position he was able to arrange the delivery of arms to Iran. These were delivered via Israel. By the end of 1982 all Reagan’s promises to Iran had been made. With the deal completed, Iran was free to resort to acts of terrorism against the United States. In 1983, Iranian-backed terrorists blew up 241 marines in the CIA Middle-East headquarters.
Reagan also appointed Kirkpatrick as the United States ambassador to the United Nations. Within months of taking office, Kirkpatrick accused Costa Rica, the most stable democracy in Central America, of communist subversion. President Carazo Odio responded by accusing Kirkpatrick of spreading lies about his country.
After his election as president, Ronald Reagan, appointed Michael Deaver as Deputy White House Chief of Staff under James Baker III. He took up his post in January 1981. Soon afterwards, Deaver's clients, Guatemala, Taiwan and Argentina, began to receive their payback. On 19th March, 1981, Reagan asked Congress to lift the embargo on arms sales to Argentina. General Roberto Viola, one of the junta members responsible for the death squads, was invited to Washington. In return, the Argentine government agreed to expand its support and training for the Contras. According to John Ranelagh (The Agency: The Rise and Decline of the CIA): "Aid and training were provided to the Contras through the Argentinean defence forces in exchange for other forms of aid from the U.S. to Argentina."
Reagan had more difficulty persuading Congress to provide arms to Guatemala. During a 4th May, 1981, session of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it was announced that the Guatemalan death squads had murdered 76 leaders of the moderate Christian Democratic Party including its leader, Alberto Fuentes Mohr. As Peter Dale Scott pointed out in the Iran-Contra Connection: "When Congress balked at certifying that Guatemala was not violating human rights, the administration acted unilaterally, by simply taking the items Guatemala wanted off the restricted list."
Reagan and Deaver also helped Guatemala in other ways. Alejandro Dabat and Luis Lorenzano (Argentina: The Malvinas and the End of Military Rule) pointed out that the Ronald Reagan administration arranged for "the training of more than 200 Guatemalan officers in interrogation techniques (torture) and repressive methods".
In early 1981, Leopoldo Galtieri visited the United States and was warmly received by members of the Ronald Reagan administration. Richard V. Allen, who Reagan had appointed as his National Security Advisor, described Galtiera as a "majestic general." With the help of the CIA, Galtieri replaced President Roberto Viola in December 1981. Galtieri attempted to improve the economy by cutting public spending and selling off government-owned industries. He also imposed a pay freeze. These policies were unpopular and demonstrations took place demanding a return to democracy.
Despite the support of the Reagan administration, Galtieri, faced the possibility of being ousted from power. He therefore decided to gain public support by appealing to nationalist sentiment. In April, 1982, Galtieri's forces invaded the weakly-defended British Falkland Islands and he declared the "Malvinas" a province of Argentina. The anti-junta demonstrations were replaced by patriotic demonstrations in support of Galtieri.
Margaret Thatcher appealed to Ronald Reagan for help in removing Galtieri from the Falklands. This caused problems for Reagan as Galtieri was seen as a key aspect of the foreign policy advocated by Kirkpatrick and Richard V. Allen. Kirkpatrick argued that America should not jeopardize relations with Latin America by backing Britain. She later explained that "I thought a policy of neutrality in that war made sense from the point of view of US interests".
However, in reality, Kirkpatrick was not arguing for neutrality. According to The Times newspaper: "Only hours after the 1982 invasion of the Falklands she notoriously attended as guest of honour a reception at the Argentine Embassy in Washington. She then went on television to assert that if the islands rightly belonged to Argentina its action could not be considered as “armed aggression”.
Reagan's Secretary of State, Alexander Haig, took the side of the British government. He argued that Kirkpatrick was “mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking clearly on this issue because of her close links with the Latins”. Reagan forced Haig to resign on 25th June, 1982. He later complaining that his attempts to help Britain in its conflict with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, was being undermined by Kirkpatrick and some above her in the White House. In his book, Gambling With History: Ronald Reagan in the White House (1983), Laurence I. Barrett argued that this person from the White House was Michael K. Deaver: "At an NSC session... Haig had observed Kirkpatrick passing Deaver a note. Concluding that Kirkpatrick was using Deaver to prime Reagan... Haig told Clark that a 'conspiracy' was afoot to outflank him."
Reagan eventually rejected Kirkpatrick's advice and as The Times pointed out: "Had Kirkpatrick prevailed, Britain would have been deprived of American fuel, Sidewinder missiles and other arms, and the vital US satellite intelligence that enabled it to win the war. And Galtieri and his junta would not have been replaced by a freely elected government."
Kirkpatrick, a strong supporter of the Domino Theory, warned that Cuba was the "launch pad for communist subversion of the region". Despite her views, Reagan refused to take military action againstCuba but he did order the invasion of Grenada in October, 1983. She also advocated the multimillion-dollar support for Islamist guerrillas, including Osama bin Laden, in Afghanistan.
As the New York Times pointed out: "At the United Nations, she defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983. She argued for El Salvador’s right-wing junta and against Nicaragua’s left-wing ruling council, the Sandinistas. In private, she supported American efforts to sustain the contras, the rebel group that tried to overthrow the Sandinistas with help from the C.I.A. She was a key participant in a March 1981 National Security Planning Group meeting that produced a $19 million covert action plan to make the contras a fighting force."
Reagan wanted to appoint Kirkpatrick as his National Security Advisor. However, Reagan's new Secretary of State, George Shultz, threaten to resign if she was appointed. Kirkpatrick lost her post as ambassador to the UN when Reagan reshuffled his cabinet in 1985.
Kirkpatrick gradually became disillusioned with right-wing politics and opposed the invasion of Iraq. She wrote: "We will need to learn to be a power, not a superpower... We should prepare psychologically and economically for reversion to the status of a normal nation."
Jeane Kirkpatrick died on 7th December, 2006.
The failure of the Carter administration's foreign policy is now clear to everyone except its architects, and even they must entertain private doubts, from time to time, about a policy whose crowning achievement has been to lay the groundwork for a transfer of the Panama Canal from the United States to a swaggering Latin dictator of Castroite bent. In the thirty-odd months since the inauguration of Jimmy Carter as President there has occurred a dramatic Soviet military buildup, matched by the stagnation of American armed forces, and a dramatic extension of Soviet influence in the Horn of Africa, Afghanistan, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean, matched by a declining American position in all these areas. The U.S. has never tried so hard and failed so utterly to make and keep friends in the Third World.
As if this were not bad enough, in the current year the United States has suffered two other major blows - in Iran and Nicaragua - of large and strategic significance. In each country, the Carter administration not only failed to prevent the undesired outcome, it actively collaborated in the replacement of moderate autocrats friendly to American interests with less friendly autocrats of extremist persuasion. It is too soon to be certain about what kind of regime will ultimately emerge in either Iran or Nicaragua, but accumulating evidence suggests that things are as likely to get worse as to get better in both countries. The Sandinistas in Nicaragua appear to be as skillful in consolidating power as the Ayatollah Khomeini is inept, and leaders of both revolutions display an intolerance and arrogance that do not bode well for the peaceful sharing of power or the establishment of constitutional governments, especially since those leaders have made clear that they have no intention of seeking either.
It is at least possible that the SALT debate may stimulate new scrutiny of the nation's strategic position and defense policy, but there are no signs that anyone is giving serious attention to this nation's role in Iranian and Nicaraguan developments - despite clear warnings that the U.S. is confronted with similar situations and options in El Salvador, Guatemala, Morocco, Zaire, and elsewhere. Yet no problem of American foreign policy is more urgent than that of formulating a morally and strategically acceptable, and politically realistic, program for dealing with non-democratic governments who are threatened by Soviet-sponsored subversion. In the absence of such a policy, we can expect that the same reflexes that guided Washington in Iran and Nicaragua will be permitted to determine American actions from Korea to Mexico - with the same disastrous effects on the U.S. strategic position. (That the administration has not called its policies in Iran and Nicaragua a failure - and probably does not consider them such - complicates the problem without changing its nature.)
There were, of course, significant differences in the relations between the United States and each of these countries during the past two or three decades. Oil, size, and proximity to the Soviet Union gave Iran greater economic and strategic import than any Central American "republic," and closer relations were cultivated with the Shah, his counselors, and family than with President Somoza, his advisers, and family. Relations with the Shah were probably also enhanced by our approval of his manifest determination to modernize Iran regardless of the effects of modernization on traditional social and cultural patterns (including those which enhanced his own authority and legitimacy). And, of course, the Shah was much better looking and altogether more dashing than Somoza; his private life was much more romantic, more interesting to the media, popular and otherwise. Therefore, more Americans were more aware of the Shah than of the equally tenacious Somoza.
But even though Iran was rich, blessed with a product the U.S. and its allies needed badly, and led by a handsome king, while Nicaragua was poor and rocked along under a long-tenure president of less striking aspect, there were many similarities between the two countries and our relations with them. Both these small nations were led by men who had not been selected by free elections, who recognized no duty to submit them selves to searching tests of popular acceptability. Both did tolerate limited apposition, including opposition newspapers and political parties, but both were also confronted by radical, violent opponents bent on social and political revolution. Both rulers, therefore, sometimes invoked martial law to arrest, imprison, exile, and occasionally, it was alleged, torture their opponents. Both relied for public order on police forces whose personnel were said to be too harsh, too arbitrary, and too powerful. Each had what the American press termed "private armies," which is to say, armies pledging their allegiance to the ruler rather than the "constitution" or the "nation" or some other impersonal entity.
In short, both Somoza and the Shah were, in central ways, traditional rulers of semi-traditional societies. Although the Shah very badly wanted to create a technologically modern and powerful nation and Somoza tried hard to introduce modern agricultural methods, neither sought to reform his society in the light of any abstract idea of social justice or political virtue. Neither attempted to alter significantly the distribution of goods, status, or power (though the democratization of education and skills that accompanied modernization in Iran did result in some redistribution of money and power there).
Both Somoza and the Shah enjoyed long tenure, large personal fortunes (much of which were no doubt appropriated from general revenues), and good relations with the United States. The Shah and Somoza were not only anti-Communist, they were positively friendly to the U.S., sending their sons and others to be educated in our universities, voting with us in the United Nations, and regularly supporting American interests and positions even when these entailed personal and political cost. The embassies of both governments were active in Washington social life, and were frequented by powerful Americans who occupied major roles in this nation's diplomatic, military, and political life. And the Shah and Somoza themselves were both welcome in Washington, and had many American friends...
No particular crisis conforms exactly with the sequence of events described above; there are always variations on the theme. In Iran, for example, the Carter administration - and the President himself - offered the ruler support for a longer time, though by December 1978 the President was acknowledging that he did not know if the Shah would survive, adding that the U.S. would not get "directly involved." Neither did the U.S. ever call publicly for the Shah's resignation. However, the President's special emissary, George Ball, "reportedly concluded that the Shah cannot hope to maintain total power and must now bargain with a moderate segment of the opposition . . ." and was "known to have discussed various alternatives that would effectively ease the Shah out of total power" (Washington Post, December 15, 1978). There is, furthermore, not much doubt that the U.S. assisted the Shah's departure and helped arrange the succession of Bakhtiar. In Iran, the Carter administration's commitment to nonintervention proved stronger than strategic considerations or national pride. What the rest of the world regarded as a stinging American defeat, the U.S. government saw as a matter to be settled by Iranians. "We personally prefer that the Shah maintain a major role in the government," the President acknowledged, "but that is a decision for the Iranian people to make."
Events in Nicaragua also departed from the scenario presented above both because the Cuban and Soviet roles were clearer and because U.S. officials were more intensely and publicly working against Somoza. After the Somoza regime had defeated the first wave of Sandinista violence, the U.S. ceased aid, imposed sanctions, and took other steps which undermined the status and the credibility of the government in domestic and foreign affairs. Between the murder of ABC correspondent Bill Stewart by a National Guardsman in early June and the Sandinista victory in late July, the U.S. State Department assigned a new ambassador who refused to submit his credentials to Somoza even though Somoza was still chief of state, and called for replacing the government with a "broadly based provisional government that would include representatives of Sandinista guerillas." Americans were assured by Assistant Secretary of State Viron Vaky that "Nicaraguans and our democratic friends in Latin America have no intention of seeing Nicaragua turned into a second Cuba," even though the State Department knew that the top Sandinista leaders had close personal ties and were in continuing contact with Havana, and, more specifically, that a Cuban secret-police official, Julian Lopez, was frequently present in the Sandinista headquarters and that Cuban military advisers were present in Sandinista ranks....
In a manner uncharacteristic of the Carter administration, which generally seems willing to negotiate anything with anyone anywhere, the U.S. government adopted an oddly uncompromising posture in dealing with Somoza. "No end to the crisis is possible," said Vaky, "that does not start with the departure of Somoza from power and the end of his regime. No negotiation, mediation, or compromise can be achieved any longer with a Somoza government. The solution can only begin with a sharp break from the past." Trying hard, we not only banned all American arms sales to the government of Nicaragua but pressured Israel, Guatemala, and others to do likewise--all in the name of insuring a "democratic" outcome. Finally, as the Sandinista leaders consolidated control over weapons and communications, banned opposition, and took off for Cuba, President Carter warned us against attributing this "evolutionary change" to "Cuban machinations" and assured the world that the U.S. desired only to "let the people of Nicaragua choose their own form of government."
Yet despite all the variations, the Carter administration brought to the crises in Iran and Nicaragua several common assumptions each of which played a major role in hastening the victory of even more repressive dictatorships than had been in place before. These were, first, the belief that there existed at the moment of crisis a democratic alternative to the incumbent government: second, the belief that the continuation of the status quo was not possible; third, the belief that any change, including the establishment of a government headed by self-styled Marxist revolutionaries, was preferable to the present government. Each of these beliefs was (and is) widely shared in the liberal community generally. Not one of them can withstand close scrutiny...
Although most governments in the world are, as they always have been, autocracies of one kind or another, no idea holds greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. This notion is belied by an enormous body of evidence based on the experience of dozens of countries which have attempted with more or less (usually less) success to move from autocratic to democratic government. Many of the wisest political scientists of this and previous centuries agree that democratic institutions are especially difficult to establish and maintain-because they make heavy demands on all portions of a population and because they depend on complex social, cultural, and economic conditions.
Two or three decades ago, when Marxism enjoyed its greatest prestige among American intellectuals, it was the economic prerequisites of democracy that were emphasized by social scientists. Democracy, they argued, could function only in relatively rich societies with an advanced economy, a substantial middle class, and a literate population, but it could be expected to emerge more or less automatically whenever these conditions prevailed. Today, this picture seems grossly over-simplified. While it surely helps to have an economy strong enough to provide decent levels of well-being for all, and "open" enough to provide mobility and encourage achievement, a pluralistic society and the right kind of political culture - and time - are even more essential.
In his essay on Representative Government, John Stuart Mill identified three fundamental conditions which the Carter administration would do well to ponder. These are: "One, that the people should be willing to receive it [representative government]; two, that they should be willing and able to do what is necessary for its preservation; three, that they should be willing and able to fulfill the duties and discharge the functions which it imposes on them."
A recent article in The New York Times noted that "the foreign policy line that emerged from the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco is a distinct shift from the policies of such (Democratic) presidents as Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson." I agree.
I shall speak tonight of foreign affairs even though the other party's convention barely touched the subject. When the San Francisco Democrats treat foreign affairs as an afterthought, as they did, they behaved less like a dove or a hawk than like an ostrich - convinced it would shut out the world by hiding its head in the sand.
Today, foreign policy is central to the security, to the freedom, to the prosperity, even to the survival of the United States. And our strength, for which we make many sacrifices, is essential to the independence and freedom of our allies and our friends.
What would become of Europe if the United States withdrew?
What would become of Africa if Europe fell under Soviet domination?
What would become of Europe if the Middle East came under Soviet control?
What would become of Israel, if surrounded by Soviet client states?
What would become of Asia if the Philippines or Japan fell under Soviet domination?
What would become of Mexico if Central America became a Soviet satellite?
What then could the United States do? These are questions the San Francisco Democrats have not answered. These are questions they haven't even asked.
The United States cannot remain an open, democratic society if we are left alone - a garrison state in a hostile world. We need independent nations with whom to trade, to consult and cooperate. We need friends and allies with whom to share the pleasures and the protection of our civilization.
We cannot, therefore, be indifferent to the subversion of others' independence or to the development of new weapons by our adversaries or of new vulnerabilities by our friends.
The last Democratic administration did not seem to notice much, or care much or do much about these matters.
And at home and abroad, our country slid into real deep trouble.
North and South, East and West, our relations deteriorated.
The Carter administration's motives were good, but their policies were inadequate, uninformed and mistaken. They made things worse, not better. Those who had least, suffered most. Poor countries grew poorer. Rich countries grew poorer, too.
The United States grew weaker. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union grew stronger. The Carter administration's unilateral "restraint" in developing and deploying weapon systems was accompanied by an unprecedented Soviet buildup, military and political.
The Soviets, working on the margins and through the loopholes of SALT I, developed missiles of stunning speed and accuracy and targeted the cities of our friends in Europe. They produced weapons capable of wiping out our land-based missiles. And then, feeling strong, the Soviet leaders moved with boldness and skill to exploit their new advantages.
Facilities were completed in Cuba during those years that permit Soviet nuclear submarines to roam our coasts, that permit planes to fly reconnaissance missions over the eastern United States, and that permit Soviet electronic surveillance to monitor our telephone calls and our telegrams.
Those were the years the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran, while in Nicaragua and Sandanista developed a one-party dictatorship based on the Cuban model.
From the fall of Saigon in 1975 'til January 1981, Soviet influence expanded dramatically into Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Yemen, Libya, Syria, Aden, Congo, Madagascar, Seychelles, Nicaragua, and Grenada.
Soviet block forces and advisers sought to guarantee what they called the "irreversibility" of their newfound influence and to stimulate insurgencies in a dozen other places.
During this period, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, murdered its president and began a ghastly war against the Afghan people.
The American people were shocked by these events. We were greatly surprised to learn of our diminished economic and military strength. We were demoralized by the treatment of our hostages in Iran. And we were outraged by harsh attacks on the United States in the United Nations. As a result, we lost confidence in ourselves and in our government.
Ms. Kirkpatrick was the first American woman to serve as U.N. Ambassador. She was the only woman - and the only Democrat - in President Reagan’s National Security Council. And no woman had ever been so close to the center of presidential power without actually residing in the White House.
“When she put her feet under the desk of the Oval Office, the President listened,” said William P. Clark, Mr. Reagan’s national security adviser during 1982 and 1983. “And he usually agreed with her.”
President Reagan brought her into his innermost foreign-policy circle, the National Security Planning Group, which convened in the White House Situation Room. In dozens of meetings with the President, Vice President George H.W. Bush, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Ms. Kirkpatrick weighed the risks and rewards of clandestine warfare in Central America, covert operations against Libya, the disastrous deployment of American marines in Lebanon, the invasion of Grenada and support for rebel forces in Afghanistan.
Though that work took place in secret, she became a national political figure. In November 1983, The New York Times opinion columnist William Safire called her “the hottest hawk on the Republican lecture trail, the most respected neo-conservative voice on the Sunday panel shows, and the only woman who could today be considered as a serious possibility for President.” She was a star performer at the 1984 Republican national convention, deriding the Democrats as the “blame America first” party...
At the United Nations, she defended Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the American invasion of Grenada in 1983. She argued for El Salvador’s right-wing junta and against Nicaragua’s left-wing ruling council, the Sandinistas. In private, she supported American efforts to sustain the contras, the rebel group that tried to overthrow the Sandinistas with help from the C.I.A. She was a key participant in a March 1981 National Security Planning Group meeting that produced a $19 million covert action plan to make the contras a fighting force.
By far Britain’s least favourite American during the Falklands War was the US Ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Only hours after the 1982 invasion of the Falklands she notoriously attended as guest of honour a reception at the Argentine Embassy in Washington. She then went on television to assert that if the islands rightly belonged to Argentina its action could not be considered as “armed aggression”.
Her efforts to tilt the Reagan Administration in favour of Argentina and against Britain provoked a most undiplomatic row with the US Secretary of State, Alexander Haig. Haig charged that Kirkpatrick was “mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking clearly on this issue because of her close links with the Latins”.
Kirkpatrick dismissed Haig’s policy as “a boy’s club vision of gang loyalty”. She accused him of being blindly pro-British and said that he and his advisers were “Britons in American clothes”.
Kirkpatrick, who was close to the Argentine junta headed by General Galtieri, argued that America should not jeopardize its relations with Latin America by supporting Britain in a colonial war. Haig and the US Defence Secretary Caspar Weinberger took Britain’s side, and Weinberger was later awarded an honorary knighthood for his role in the victory.
Had Kirkpatrick prevailed, Britain would have been deprived of American fuel, Sidewinder missiles and other arms, and the vital US satellite intelligence that enabled it to win the war. And Galtieri and his junta would not have been replaced by a freely elected government.
What drove her out of the Democratic party was precisely the "blame-America-first" syndrome - the sour attitude toward America, and especially the barely disguised hostility to American military power - that had come to pervade Democratic attitudes in the late 1960s and that had persisted into the Carter administration. And what turned her from a devoted supporter of Hubert Humphrey into an even more devoted supporter of Ronald Reagan was Reagan's serene belief in America as a wondrous "city upon a hill" and his correlative determination to hasten the day when the "evil empire" would wind up on that very ash heap of history to which the Communists had always so confidently consigned us.
Jeane Kirkpatrick, then, was a veteran of World War III (or what is more generally known as the Cold War), and I would say of her what the English used to say of those veterans of World War II who had done important and interesting work and had come through unscathed - that she, like they, had had "a good war." And like them, too, she never really found anything afterward that engaged her intellectual energies and her political passions as fully as her own "good war" had done. Back in "civilian" life after the war had been won, she resumed her academic career, she served on many boards, and as a famous and esteemed public figure, she continued to write and to speak out whenever the spirit moved her (as, for example, in a prescient piece, also written for Commentary, describing "How the PLO Was Legitimized").
But it was never the same, especially after the death of her husband in 1995. Evron Kirkpatrick, longtime executive director of the American Political Science Association, had been Jeane's mentor, and throughout the forty years of their marriage he continued to be - to invert an old-fashioned term that seems singularly appropriate here - her helpmate in all things. His death was an immeasurable loss to her - greater, I suspect, than anyone knew or could tell, thanks to the deep reserve that marked both her character and her personality.
Nor did the outbreak on 9/11 of what I persist in calling World War IV tempt her back into battle. She had serious reservations about the prudence of the Bush Doctrine, which she evidently saw neither as an analogue of the Truman Doctrine nor as a revival of the Reaganite spirit in foreign policy. Even so, she was clearly reluctant to join in the clamor against it, which for all practical purposes meant relegating herself to the sidelines.
Jeane Kirkpatrick, who has died aged 80, was US ambassador to the UN from 1981 to 1985 during the first Ronald Reagan administration. She had shot to unexpected fame in 1979 when she published an article proposing that the US should treat authoritarian regimes much more favourably than totalitarian ones. The rapid incorporation of this attitude into US foreign policy made her article one of the most influential since George Kennan's 1949 advocacy of "containing" the Soviet Union.
Arguing strongly against President Carter's emphasis on civil rights, Kirkpatrick, then working for a Conservative think tank in Washington, observed that most right wing dictatorships were reliably pro-American. Their leaders might favour the rich and keep the masses in poverty but "because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to the ordinary people".
She asserted that such governments were more amenable to reform than totalitarian Marxist ones and concluded that "liberal idealism need not be identical with masochism and need not be incompatible with the defence of freedom and the national interest".
Reagan's chief foreign policy adviser, Richard Allen, showed the piece to his boss who then wrote to Kirkpatrick, saying it was the best article he had read on the subject. Though a registered Democrat, she soon announced her backing for Reagan's 1980 presidential bid and helped prepare him for his televised debates with Carter.
In return, the president-elect nominated her as ambassador to the UN, a position from which she contributed doughtily to the administration's long-term diplomatic chaos. Shortly after her confirmation, she commented that "by habit and temperament I am rather low-key in my jobs. I do not come in swinging or making pronouncements." It was not a portrait remotely recognisable to the new secretary of state, Alexander Haig.
Reagan had a fundamentally simple view of foreign policy. It was a battle between Uncle Sam and the Evil Empire, with other nations backing one side or the other. He was little concerned about nuances and utterly averse to becoming involved in organisational niceties. So Haig at the state department found himself in a constant struggle with Allen in the White House, and Kirkpatrick at the UN. As Haig later noted bitterly in his memoirs, "the concept of closing ranks had no meaning for the president's aides".
It's a coincidence that Jeane Kirkpatrick, the astringent U.S. envoy to the United Nations in the 1980s, and former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet died only a few days apart. But in death as in life, the two are associated with a political theory that defined the early days of the neo conservative movement in the United States. Unfortunately for Kirkpatrick, its author, the theory proved to be dead wrong.
The idea was that right-wing authoritarian governments were much better bets for conversion to democracy than left-wing totalitarian ones. This is how Kirkpatrick put it in "Dictatorships and Double Standards," the influential 1979 essay in Commentary magazine that brought her to the attention of Ronald Reagan.
"Although there is no instance of a revolutionary socialist or communist society being democratized, right-wing autocracies do sometimes evolve into democracies - given time, propitious economic, social and political circumstances, talented leaders and a strong indigenous demand for representative government." Kirkpatrick's article, which focused on the Carter administration's policy toward Iran under the shah and Nicaragua under Anastasio Somoza, made some valid points about the differences between Marxist and traditional authoritarian societies. But the article - and Kirkpatrick - are remembered most for the suggestion that dictatorships of the right (especially those friendly to the United States) offered more fertile ground for democratization than dictatorships of the left.
Chile, where the murderous Pinochet eventually relinquished much of his power after a 1988 referendum, seemed to vindicate the Kirkpatrick doctrine. But then came the collapse of the Soviet Union and the creation of more democratic governments not only in the formerly captive states of Hungary and Czechoslovakia but also in Russia. And as China has shown, spectacularly, Marxist states can turn capitalist in a hurry, though political freedoms may still lag.
Like other reductionist theories, the Kirkpatrick doctrine ran up against the wisdom of H.L. Mencken's observation that "for every problem, there is a solution that is simple, clean and wrong."
Her deliberately cultivated image at the UN was that of an American chauvinist bully, unashamedly threatening smaller nations with the cutoff of American aid and even military aggression if they failed to toe Washington’s line. She was equally unabashed about defending the crimes of America’s anticommunist allies, from the mass killings and torture carried out by Latin American military regimes, to Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the South African apartheid regime’s use of force against both neighboring African states as well as its own oppressed black majority.
Kirkpatrick’s entree into the inner circle of the Reagan administration came as a result of her scathing criticism of the Democratic administration of President Jimmy Carter, whose election she had supported in 1976.
Then a political science professor at Georgetown University and member of the American Enterprise Institute, the right-wing think tank from which some 50 members of the incoming Reagan administration were drawn, Kirkpatrick blamed the Carter administration’s rather tepid advocacy of human rights - a foreign policy ploy aimed at forestalling revolution - for the 1979 overthrow of the US-backed Somoza dictatorship in Nicaragua and that of the Shah in Iran.
In an essay written that year for the neo conservative magazine Commentary entitled “Dictatorships and double standards,” she denounced Carter for failing to prop up Somoza and the Shah, both of whom were responsible for massacring thousands in their efforts to remain in power:
“The rise of violent opposition in Iran and Nicaragua set in motion a succession of events which bore a suggestive resemblance to one another and a suggestive similarity to our behavior in China before the fall of Chiang Kai-shek, in Cuba before the triumph of Castro, in certain crucial periods of the Vietnam War, and more recently in Angola. In each of these periods, the American effort to impose liberalization and democratization on a government confronted with violent internal opposition not only failed, but actually assisted the coming to power of new regimes in which ordinary people enjoy fewer freedoms and less personal security than under the previous autocracy - regimes, moreover, hostile to American interests and policies.”
The policy implications of Kirkpatrick’s thesis were unmistakable. Washington should seek to keep in power right-wing dictatorships, so long as they suppressed the threat of revolution and supported “American interests and policies.” Moreover, the limits placed by the Carter administration on relations with regimes that had carried out wholesale political killings and torture, as in Chile and Argentina, for example, should be cast aside.
Reagan and his advisors were reportedly impressed with this line of argument and recruited Kirkpatrick’s support in the 1980 election. She subsequently became part of the incoming administration’s foreign policy advisory team, where she developed the argument that the US was confronting a “domino effect” in Central America that threatened it with being “surrounded by Soviet bases on our southeastern and southern flanks.”
Once the administration took office, Kirkpatrick became a leading advocate and architect of a policy of intervention in Central America that embraced robust US backing for dictatorships that massacred hundreds of thousands in an attempt to suppress revolutionary movements in El Salvador and Guatemala as well as an illegal CIA-funded war of terror against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.
Likewise, she backed the 1983 US invasion of Grenada, the bombing of Libya and the multimillion-dollar support for Islamist guerrillas - Osama bin Laden among them - battling the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan.
This policy became more generally known as the “Reagan doctrine,” which represented a shift from the “containment” policy adopted by the Truman administration toward the “roll-back” strategy advocated within right-wing Republican circles since the 1950s. A National Security Directive issue in 1983 declared that Washington would “contain and over time reverse Soviet expansionism,” and that it would back “Third World states that are willing to resist Soviet pressures or oppose Soviet initiatives hostile to the United States.”