Jeane J. Kirkpatrick


Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, whose work as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President Ronald Reagan made her the first woman to actively participate in U.S. foreign policymaking, died Dec. 7 at her home in Bethesda, Md. She was 80. Ms. Kirkpatrick, who had Cabinet status as U.N. ambassador, once described herself as a "lifelong Democrat" but joined the Republican Party in 1985 as she was completing her four-year term at the United Nations. In the 20 years since her U.N. post, Ms. Kirkpatrick worked at Jesuit-run Georgetown University in Washington and at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington, specializing in issues of defense, national security, the United Nations, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Russia. At Georgetown she held the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey chair in the government department from 1967 to 2002. Before that she was an assistant professor of political science at Trinity College (now University) in Washington from 1962 to 1967. Ms. Kirkpatrick was a co-founder with Catholics William Bennett and Jack Kemp of the grass-roots organization Empower America, whose goal was to spread conservative values in America. She received honorary degrees from Georgetown, St. John's University in New York, Loyola University in Chicago, the Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala, Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a number of other schools. In the early 1980s she said that revising Latin America policy was "one of the most urgent tasks of the Reagan administration." She said President Jimmy Carter had failed to understand the dynamics of politics in the region and wrongly assumed that change promised by groups attempting to overturn the old order would result in a better life for people. Her opinion on the shape that policy should take was the opposite of the view Catholic and other church groups in the United States and Latin America had about regimes there and the need for change. Born in Duncan, Okla., she earned a doctorate in political science from Columbia University in 1967. Her husband, Evron M. Kirkpatrick, and a son, Douglas Jordan, predeceased her. She is survived by two sons, John Evron and Stuart Alan. Contemporary Authors Online listed Ms. Kirkpatrick's religion only as Protestant, but a spokesman for the American Enterprise Institute said she was a Presbyterian.