Friday, December 08, 2006

Death of an ICON

I loved Ms. Kirkpatrick, she is a woman I would have gladly voted for to be President. The country has lost a National Treasure with her passing.

Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ex-Ambassador, Dies
Dec 8, 10:26 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, an unabashed apostle of Reagan era conservatism and the first woman U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has died.

The death of the 80-year-old Kirkpatrick, who began her public life as a Hubert Humphrey Democrat, was announced Friday at the senior staff meeting of the U.S. mission to the United Nations.

Spokesman Richard Grenell said that Ambassador John Bolton asked for a moment of silence. An announcement of her death also was posted on the Web site of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-oriented think tank here where she was a senior fellow.

Kirkpatrick's assistant, Andrea Harrington, said that she died in her sleep at home in Bethesda, Md. late Thursday. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Kirkpatrick's health had been in decline recently, Harrington said, adding that she was "basically confined to her house," going to work about once a week "and then less and less."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said that Kirkpatrick, who had a reputation as a blunt and acerbic advocate, "stood up for the interests of America while at the U.N., lent a powerful moral voice to the Reagan foreign policy and has been a source of wise counsel to our nation since leaving the government two decades ago. She will be greatly missed."

Karlyn H. Bowman, a colleague of Kirkpatrick's at AEI, called her "always insightful. Always interesting. Very thoughtful about modern American politics and foreign policy. A wonderful colleague."

Bowman also said that Kirkpatrick, who had been elevated to the U.N. post by President Reagan in 1981, had "served with great distinction" at the U.N. "She was a great patriot, a champion of freedom and we will certainly miss her at AEI and the country."

Kirkpatrick was known as a blunt and sometimes acerbic advocate for her causes. She remained involved in public issues even though she'd left government service two decades ago. She joined seven other former U.N. ambassadors in 2005 in writing a letter to Congress telling lawmakers that their plan to withhold dues to force reform at the world body was misguided and would "create resentment, build animosity and actually strengthen opponents of reform."

Bill Bennett, a former secretary of education under Reagan, the nation's drug czar under the first President Bush and a leading conservative opinion-maker, called her "very forceful, very strong, a daughter of Oklahoma, great sense of humor. She held her own."

Bennett said the Iraq Study Group so prominently in the news "would have been better with Jeane Kirkpatrick on it ... She had no patience with tyrannies, said they had to be confronted, you couldn't deal with tyrannies, that there were some people you could work with - these people you couldn't."

Update from FDD

A tribute to Jeane Kirkpatrick (AV)

I was awakened this morning by a call from a friend informing me that Jeane Kirkpatrick had died. Ambassador Kirkpatrick, until fairly recently, was a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, where I interned last year, and her office was only a few steps away from my bay on the 11th floor. She later went on to help found the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.
Jeane would make a point of stopping for a chat every time she passed my bay at AEI, and we had many fascinating conversations about foreign policy, and I was constantly struck by her powerful mind, on which, mercifully, age was not taking its toll.
Being a somewhat bumptious sort, I would try to tease out her views on the issues facing us today—at the time, it was the floundering Iraq mission—and it was clear that her contributions deserved a more public airing. Fortunately, prior to her death, Jeane had finished writing a new book on foreign policy. Though I have not yet had the pleasure to read it (it will be published shortly), I am told by those whose judgment I trust that it is excellent.
I remember one particular conversation with Jeane during which, and this was the Tory in me speaking, I quizzed her about her role in the Falklands crisis, which had received unfavorable reviews in Margaret Thatcher's memoirs Downing Street Years. Jeane displayed her characteristic graciousness, explaining the basis for her skepticism at being too supportive of Britain's pursuit of its territorial claim, while conceding that hindsight showed her fears were too severe.
Jeane explained that she was worried that an embarrassment of the Argentinean government over the Falklands might lead to its replacement by a communist one. Jeane's thinking flowed from the powerful, and powerfully American traditions of the Monroe Doctrine, as well as her own thesis in Dictatorships and Double Standards, which foreign policy thinkers today, especially those specializing in the Middle East, are I think admonished to read. (A link to the original essay is here, and its book form here).
In vivid detail, Jeane explained that hindsight had vindicated Lady Thatcher's decision, not her own. Yet, in this concession, Jeane's graciousness and honor came through, and I came to see that any sensible policymaker in her place would have had the same fears as her, and would probably have come to the same decision: I, with all my sympathies for the Anglosphere and the old order, certainly would have.
Jeane then spoke to me about the profound ambiguity of foreign policy idealism that animated her Dictatorships and Double Standards thesis, subtly calling attention to a particular weakness in my own foreign policy thinking. I would say that if there is one essay that those who are called neoconservatives should read, it is Dictatorships and Double Standards.
Ultimately, difficult policy decisions cannot be entirely based on ex ante normative ideals, but prudential concerns, animated by history. Fortunately, this underscores the need for powerfully smart, and idealistic, statesmen, of which Jeane Kirkpatrick surely was one. Withal, Jeane's contribution to U.S. foreign policy was very significant, and her death is serious and in many ways sad, but she leaves behind many friends, a goodly number of acolytes, and a very, very significant legacy. May she rest in peace.

Posted by Alykhan Velshi at 09:58 AM

No comments:

Post a Comment