There is much to be said in honor of Jeane Kirkpatrick, who died Thursday night at the age of 80. But most immediately, it is worth revisiting the words of Kirkpatrick herself, who at the height of her game spoke with a clarity that has lately gone missing in Washington. The following lines are from the close of “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” her famous essay published in Commentary magazine in 1979, as Soviet-backed “popular liberation” was heading for its highwater mark around the globe. This was the article that brought Jeane Kirkpatrick to the attention of President Reagan — who in 1981 sent her as his ambassador to the UN:
“Groups which define themselves as enemies should be treated as enemies … a posture of continuous self-abasement and apology vis-a-vis the Third World is neither morally necessary nor politically appropriate. Nor is it necessary to support vocal enemies of the United States because they invoke the rhetoric of popular liberation. It is not even necessary or appropriate for our leaders to forswear unilaterally the use of military force to counter military force. Liberal idealism need not be identical with masochism, and need not be incompatible with the defense of freedom and the national interest.”
Note: Here is a brief statement delivered to the press today by someone who in the late 1990s had an office next to Jeane Kirkpatrick’s, at the American Enterprise Institute; someone who has been the only U.S. ambassador to the UN in 20 years to rival Kirkpatrick’s courage and vision in standing up for our country’s interests — John Bolton:
Ambassador Bolton: I just wanted to say a few words about the death of Jeane Kirkpatrick. She was a great American. She was a great Ambassador of the United States here. She never forgot who she was representing. She was a friend and colleague of many people at AEI, at Georgetown University, in the diplomatic community. She was a great scholar. She was one of the most outstanding advocates of American foreign policy in our history. When I was at AEI in the late nineties, for most of that time our offices were right next to each other, and I benefited very greatly. It really is very sad for America. But she will be — she will be greatly missed.