Jeane Kirkpatrick (November 19, 1926 - December 7, 2006)

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick was a Georgetown University political science professor, an anti-communist, and the first American woman to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She served as President Ronald Reagan's Foreign Policy Advisor in 1980 and later in his Cabinet. Her famous "Kirkpatrick Doctrine" gave U.S. support to anticommunist governments, providing that they adhered to Washington policy. Reflecting on the doctrine, Kirkpatrick wrote, "Traditional authoritarian governments are less repressive than revolutionary autocracies."

Born Jeane Duane Jordan in Duncan, Oklahoma, Kirkpatrick spent her formative years in southern Illinois, where she graduated from Mt. Vernon Township High School. She attended Barnard College and graduated in 1948. In 1969, she graduated from Columbia University with a PhD in political science. While at Columbia, she joined the Georgetown University faculty in 1967 and received full tenure in 1973.

In 1976, she helped found the Committee on Present Danger in order to educate Americans about the Soviet Union's burgeoning military prowess as well as the SALT II treaty. Kirkpatrick wrote and published a collection articles featured in political science journals that criticized President Jimmy Carter's foreign policy. "Dictatorships and Double Standards," her most popular article was featured in Commentary Magazine in 1979. In it she expressed her view that there is a difference between authoritarian regimes and totalitarian ones like the Soviet Union. After reading her articles, President Ronald Reagan appointed Kirkpatrick to serve as a foreign policy advisor during his 1980 campaign and later during his presidency. He later appointed her as the United States Ambassador to the UN.

Kirkpatrick played a crucial role in development the Reagan administration's foreign policies on Central America. "She supported the military junta in El Salvador as well as the anti-Sandinista rebels fighting the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. She also helped develop the covert plan to provide $19 million in aid to the contras." In addition, she supported the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and America's invasion of Grenada in 1983.

Kirkpatrick gave her famous "Blame America First" keynote speech at the 1984 Republican National Convention. The speech criticized the "San Francisco Democrats" who had recently held their convention in San Francisco, and commended Reagan's foreign policy.

Following her work in the Reagan administration Kirkpatrick resumed teaching government at Georgetown University in addition to becoming a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a writer for the American Freedom Journal. She co-founded the public policy organization, Empower American in 1993.

Kirkpatrick received a number of distinguished honors and awards throughout her career including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, honorary doctorate degrees from Universidad Francisco Marroquin and Central Connecticut State University. Kirkpatrick died on December 7, 2006.


Works Cited:

  • Picture: United Nations
  • "Middle Israel: The new world order." The Jerusalem Post. 2006-12-14. Retrieved 2007-08-16.