Dictatorships and double standards

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Dictatorships and double standards is a famous essay by Jeanne Kirkpatrick which prompted President Ronald Reagan to make her a foreign policy adviser.[1]

Terence P. Jeffrey wrote:

Her essay dissected the moralistic mindset that inspired President Jimmy Carter to turn his back on pro-United States -- yet authoritarian -- leaders in Iran and Nicaragua, when they were challenged, respectively, by Islamic and Marxist revolutions. [2]

In her essay, Kirkpatrick wrote:

Although most governments in the world are, as they always have been, autocracies of one kind or another, no idea holds greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances. This notion is belied by an enormous body of evidence based on the experience of dozens of countries which have attempted with more or less [usually less] success to move from autocratic to democratic governments. Many of the wisest political scientists of this and previous centuries agree that democratic institutions are especially difficult to establish and maintain -- because they make heavy demands on all portions of a population and because they depend on complex social, cultural and economic conditions." [ibid]


  1. Richard Allen, top foreign policy adviser to then-candidate Ronald Reagan, gave Mr. Reagan this article. Mr. Reagan loved it, got to know Mrs. Kirkpatrick and made her a key member of his foreign policy team. [1]

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