Goodbye Jeane - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-11-2006, 06:33 AM Thread Starter
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Goodbye Jeane

Jeane Kirkpatrick
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 09/12/2006

Jeane Kirkpatrick, who died on Thursday night aged 80, was America's first woman ambassador to the United Nations and one of the most controversial political scientists of her time; an indefatigable champion of democracy and an iron foe of Communism, she brooked no argument that she considered menacing to the interests of the United States.

A blunt-speaking Democrat for most of her life, she was an unyielding pragmatist who supported President Reagan during the 1980s in his policy of aid for the Right-wing administration of El Salvador in its struggle against Marxist rebels, while at the same time backing the Contra guerrillas battling the Left-wing Sandinista regime in neighbouring Nicaragua.

In both cases Jeane Kirkpatrick insisted that the United States was helping democrats against non-democrats. For her, the policy was not inconsistent.

advertisementHer advocacy of a new Latin American and Pacific-orientated political strategy, however, led her to criticise Margaret Thatcher's decision to crush the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982. But in recognising an implacable opponent of a similar stripe, Jeane Kirkpatrick years later paid handsome tribute to the British prime minister.

A year after the Falklands war, American troops invaded the British Caribbean colony of Grenada to quell unrest following a coup. Jeane Kirkpatrick was later asked if she felt betrayed when Britain, having received American support during the Falklands campaign, opposed the American intervention in Grenada.

"Yes," she replied. "Britain, I should point out, not only failed to support our operation in Grenada, she condemned it. I never suggested that we should condemn Britain's policy in the Falklands. My most extreme position was that we should remain publicly neutral, which was a very different, much warmer position, than that which Britain assumed towards us. But I didn't feel bitter."

By 1990 she had grown to admire Mrs Thatcher, and wrote an article praising her political skills and hailing her as "the leading example of a successful 'conviction politician'." For her part Mrs Thatcher, in her memoir The Downing Street Years (1993), recalled the evening of April 2 1982 when Mrs Kirkpatrick, as America's ambassador to the UN, attended a gala dinner given in her honour by the Argentine ambassador. "As our ambassador later asked her: 'How would Americans have felt if he had dined with the Iranian Embassy the night that American hostages were seized in Teheran?'"

Jeane Kirkpatrick's pragmatism and hardline opposition towards the Soviet Union led her finally to resign her membership of the Democratic Party and switch to the Republicans. In 1981 Reagan had appointed her UN ambassador, the first woman Democrat to be nominated to a cabinet-ranking position. A few months after leaving the UN four years later she joined the Republicans, even though she continued to support the welfare state and organised labour.

She was born Jeane Duane Jordan at Duncan, Oklahoma, on November 19 1926. Her father, Welcher Jordan, was a wildcat oilman who dreamed of finding a fortune but took his family through Oklahoma and Illinois without once tapping black gold.

His daughter's academic achievements included an MA in political science from Columbia University in 1950, which led to a job in the office of intelligence research in the State Department, where she worked as a research analyst. A year's postgraduate work followed in 1952 at the Institut de Science Politique of the University of Paris on a French government fellowship. She spent a year as assistant to the director of the Economic Cooperation Administration history project under the US Governmental Affairs Institute. She then moved to the Human Resources Research Office of George Washington University as a research associate.

In 1955 she married a fellow political scientist, Dr Evron M Kirkpatrick, and the following year joined the liberal Fund for the Republic as a research associate with its "Communism in government" project. Two associate political professorships followed, at Trinity College in Washington and at Georgetown University. She was awarded a PhD from Columbia University in 1968 for a dissertation on Peronist politics in Argentina.

Between 1955 and 1972 Jeane Kirkpatrick worked as a consultant to government departments of state and to the American Council of Learned Societies before her appointment, in 1973, as a full professor at Georgetown.

She also wrote for scholarly magazines such as Commentary and New Republic, while editing a study of Communist political tactics across the world. She was also the author of several books, including Mass Behaviour in Battle and Captivity (1962), The Peronist Movement in Argentina (1971) and Political Woman (1974).

The anti-war movement of the 1960s and growing antagonism towards the government so gravelled her Right-wing sensibility that she eventually decided to enter politics herself. In 1972 she stood — unsuccessfully — with a group of candidates supporting the former vice-president, Hubert Humphrey, in the Maryland primary. The Republicans, she pointed out, concentrated so much on taxes and profits that they had failed to project an encouraging future for the American public as a whole.

With like-minded colleagues, Jeane Kirkpatrick formed a group within the Democratic Party called the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. This opposed George McGovern's "doves" and pressed the party to shed its policy of being soft on war, growth, business and cooperation with labour.

Jeane Kirkpatrick held office on all the key party committees and initially supported President Jimmy Carter when he was elected in 1977. But in the same year she joined the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think-tank in Washington, which welcomed her robust views. She grew increasingly critical of Carter. In an article in Commentary in 1979, she berated the president for condemning and undermining pro-American Right-wing autocracies while favouring totalitarian revolutionary governments, which she claimed were more repressive. Carter's attitude, she maintained, imposed a double-standard on human rights that acted against the economic and strategic interests of the United States.

The article attracted the attention of Ronald Reagan while he was planning his 1980 campaign to run for the White House. Impressed, he wrote to her declaring that it was the best he had ever read on the subject. Jeane Kirkpatrick responded by abandoning Carter to support Reagan's candidacy; she coached him before campaign debates and, once elected, Reagan appointed her to his interim foreign policy advisory board.

He crowned this gesture in December 1980 by naming her as the next American ambassador to the UN with cabinet rank, effective from his inauguration in January 1981. Throughout her four years at the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick was a vocal defender of Reagan's brand of human rights and proved a steadfast supporter of Israel.

When she left the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick said she intended to return to academic life. But first she joined the Republican Party and built up a list of engagements on the highly lucrative American lecture circuit.

At a mimimum fee of $20,000 a time, she accepted 50 engagements in the first year, guaranteeing her an income of $1 million. She also signed a $900,000 contract for a book about her experiences at the UN, and accepted $150,000 for a weekly newspaper column.

In the late 1980s she was reportedly considering running for the presidency. But she finally put a stop to the rumours, declaring that she had given up the idea for "personal and political reasons".

Jeane Kirkpatrick, who spoke fluent French and Spanish, relaxed by giving intimate dinner parties. She was an excellent cook, noted for her French cuisine.

Jeane Kirkpatrick's husband died in 1995, and she is survived by two sons; a third son predeceased her.
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 12-11-2006, 07:12 AM
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Unfortunately they don't make people like that anymore. With the current crop I always feel tempted to raise the hairline to see whether there is a bar code hidden. There should be a law that politicians have to wear the logos of their corporate sponsors prominently displayed on their clothing, much like racing drivers.
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