Though former American Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick died over five years ago, the legacy she left still resonates, argues Peter Collier, author of the new biography “Political Woman: The Big Little Life of Jeane Kirkpatrick.”
“‘Dictatorships and Double Standards’ will always be an arguing point in the dialogue about totalitarian governments,” Collier, author and founding publisher of Encounter Books, told The Daily Caller, referring to Kirkpatrick’s marquis 1979 essay.
“It got a new lease on life during the discussion about how the U.S. should react to authoritarians like Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab Spring, and will continue to be relevant now that winter has arrived with the empowerment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist organizations.”
“I think that her denunciation of the ‘blame America first’ Democrats will always echo in our politics,” he added.
“And, finally, that her independence, bravery and intellectually muscular defense of our national enterprise while at the U.N. will always measure that organization and measure her as well.”
A Democrat who went to work for Ronald Reagan’s presidential administration, Kirkpatrick later became a Republican and was aligned with the so-called “neoconservatives.” Nonetheless, she was not a big proponent of the Iraq War.
“[E]ven though she tried to be a good soldier in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, she always had deep doubts about that war, and toward the end of her life became less reluctant to express them,” Collier said.
“She had contempt for those who opposed the war on what she saw as anti-American grounds and ‘got’ what the Bush administration was trying to do by changing the environment in the Middle East that produced terrorism, but she simply did not believe that the war was in the interests of the U.S.”
Read the full interview with Collier below about his new book:
Why did you decide to write the book?
When I founded Encounter Books in 1998, the first thing I did was approach Jeane to write a memoir. I knew from a prior conversation with her that she had tried to do this shortly after leaving the Reagan administration in 1985. But the effort had failed, probably because she was one of those people who feel that the first person singular pronoun is an enemy. So to help convince her to try again, I said I’d do a series of interviews with her and put together a draft, written in her voice, which she could then work from. We talked for many hours and eventually I did distill this material into a sample chapter that she liked. But she couldn’t make herself enthusiastic about the book and it went nowhere. Shortly before she died, Jeane apologized for this, saying that she was sorry that this project of ours would not get done. I glibly replied that maybe I’d just do the book myself. After she died, I decided that I would — as a way of telling about a unique life and keeping her memory green.