December 11, 2006 | National Review Online

Iron Lady: Remembering Jeane Kirkpatrick

It’s easy to forget how grim a scene confronted America when Jeane Kirkpatrick in November, 1979, published her famous essay in Commentary Magazine, on “Dictatorships and Double Standards.” Much as Islamic fascism threatens us today, totalitarian expansion, then in the garb of Soviet Communism, was on a roll. Soviet troops were about to sweep into Afghanistan, the ayatollahs had just begun their reign of terror in Iran, Indochina had recently gone Communist, Africa and Central America had become theaters in which Soviet clients and their Kremlin advisers battled to expand what President Ronald Reagan would a few years later describe as the evil empire. In Washington, Jimmy Carter, then president, was the human face of the pious and hollow intellectual fashions of the time, preaching conciliation and practicing surrender.

Kirkpatrick had no patience with fashion. Her passion, then, and throughout her long life, was truth. Her loyalties were to the United States, which she understood, correctly, to be the world’s great guardian of freedom — but one badly in need of defense within its own camp. As Reagan’s ambassador from 1981-85 to the profoundly anti-American institution that was, and is, the U.N., Jeane Kirkpatrick spoke up and fought for our country’s interests as none in that seat except Ambassador John Bolton have done since. Today, in a world again beset by totalitarian shadows, with apologists for America again ascendant in Washington, we can best honor her by keeping faith in times ahead with the courage and vision she brought to the defense of our country.

Claudia Rosett is a journalist in residence at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies .

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