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.