Ex-U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick dead at 80
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, President Reagan’s favorite Democrat and his outspokenambassadortotheUnited Nations, died Dec. 8 at 80.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick passed away in her sleep between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. at her Bethesda, Md. home, aide Andrea Harrington said.
The first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Mrs.Kirkpatrickwasalifelongcrusader against communism and advocated crushing the Soviet-led movement toward global totalitarianism rather than containing it.
“She defended the cause of freedom at a pivotal time in world history,” President Bush said. “Jeane’s powerful intellect helped America win the Cold War.”
She was courted personally by Mr. Reagan and his Republican presidential nominating team in 1980 to serve as a foreign policy adviser,andshesupportedhiselection. Mrs. Kirkpatrick won Senate confirmation as chief U.S. representativeattheUnitedNationsin1981but remained a Democrat throughout Mr. Reagan’s first term. She switched parties only after leaving public office in 1985.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick said part of the reasonsheswitchedpartieswasbecause“Democratwelfarepolicynot only was not working but was damaging to the people who were the supposed beneficiaries. I believe in self-reliance.”
Intensely averse to mincing words, she shared some policy and personality traits with John R. Bolton, who recently resigned as U.N.ambassadorandwhoweptpublicly on Dec. 8 in recalling his years of friendship with Mrs. Kirkpatrick as a colleague at the American Enterprise Institute think tank.
“I benefited very greatly. It really is very sad for America. [. . . ] She will be greatly missed,” Mr. Bolton said.
In the months before her death, Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s foreign-policy views did not conform to those of either party.
“I don’t think we have an obliga- tiontoengageinanewimperialism,” she said, adding that she is “skepticalofnationbuilding.Itisextremely difficult for one nation to seriously remake another nation.”
ShecalledMr.Bush’sforeignpolicy “a little too interventionist for my taste, frankly, but not across the board.Iamverymuchinfavorofhis actions in Afghanistan and have not opposed them in Iraq.”
PatBuchanan,aidetoPresidents Reagan, Nixon and Ford, said Mrs. Kirkpatrick “put her pen, voice and intellect all at the service of her country for all the decades I knew her.Shewasalionessinfightingand winning the Cold War.”
Her occasional libertarian instincts conflicted at times with her Christian morals.
“Look, I am a serious Christian,” she told The Washington Times last spring. “No, I don’t favor the consti- tutional amendment [banning homosexual ‘marriage.’] On the other hand, I don’t want to promote samesex marriage.”
She recently told The Times that she believed government has an importantroletoplayinhelpingpeople.
And people seemed to relate to Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who had the ability to speak to like-minded voters, such as the ones who crossed party lines to twice elect Mr. Reagan.
Heritage Foundation President Edwin J. Feulner, for example, recalled a day when a truck driver spotted Mrs. Kirkpatrick on the street while she was serving as U.N. ambassador. The driver leaned out ofhiswindowandyelled,“‘Give‘em hell, Jeane!’ ”
“BeforeJeane,weneverhadsuch a bold and brilliant representative for freedom in the United Nations, anambassadorwhoearnedsupport from policy-makers and truck drivers alike,” Mr. Feulner said.
She was a close ideological and personal friend of the late Ann Crutcher, the first editorial page editor of The Times. While U.N. ambassador, she flew back to Washington, penning on the back of an envelope a moving eulogy that she deliveredatMrs.Crutcher’sfuneral.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick, who shared a certain imperious quality with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, pleased some conservatives as a forthright, often acerbic critic of the U.N. bureaucracy and its domination by member states committed to neither democracy nor human rights. Yet Mrs. Kirkpatrick made it clear that ratherthanpullingtheUnitedStates out of the United Nations, she wantedtopreservetheinstitutionby improving it.
“Always ardent and often provocative, her commitment to an effective United Nations was clear during her tenure and in her later career,”U.N.Secretary-GeneralKofi Annan said.
Mrs.KirkpatrickgrewupinDuncan, Okla., where her father drilled for oil and her mother kept books. ShespenttwoyearsatStephensCollege in Columbia, Mo., then earned a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College in New York and eventually adoctorateingovernmentfromColumbia University.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick authored three books: “The Right Versus Might,” “The Withering Away of the Totalitarian State [. . . ] and Other Surprises”and“LegitimacyandForce.”
She is survived by two sons. Her husband, Evron, a former U.S. intelligenceofficerandscholar,diedin 1995.
Patriot: Former U.N. Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, outspoken crusader against communism and President Reagan’s favorite Democrat, died Dec. 8 in her Bethesda, Md. home.