More on Jeane Kirkpatrick


A dissent from a reader:

The Niall Ferguson essay you link to is very interesting and well put. However, it does omit one little fact—that Jeane Kirkpatrick was a supporter of the invasion of Iraq and, in 2003, performed a mission, for the Bush Administration, to several Arab allies, attempting to get their support for the attack on Saddam. Sadly, in this case, she failed to take her own advice, and signed on to an effort to play midwife to democracy, the results of which are all to apparent today. As with so many of the American political figures of the last few decades, it seems, her ideas were absolutely forthright and immutable—until they weren’t.

And here's another e-mail:

The Kirkpatrick quote about Carter's efforts to impose liberalization may be correct for some countries (I can't think of any off the top of my head, but maybe so) but it is factually wrong regarding several in Latin America. I was a very junior US Foreign Service Officer in Latin America during Carter's Admin, and I had a close-up albeit limited view of a few of those liberalization and human rights efforts. Subsequently, liberalized regimes appeared in Argentina, Brazil & Uruguay. Now this transformation actually took place under Reagan, but the seeds were planted under Carter, and the Reagan Admin's view of nurturing them was no better than benign neglect.

Kirkpatrick, off the mark again, not unlike her characterization of totalitarian versus authoritarian governments. She had a legitimate point about the latter, as she may also have had with regard to Carter, but she was drawing rather absolute conclusions on the basis of small samples and a limited period of time. I always thought of her more as a well-educated and sophisticated ideologue than as an historian or political scientist.