Jeane Kirkpatrick

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Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick (November 19, 1926 – December 7, 2006) was a leading conservative spokesman during the Reagan Era. Kirkpatrick was President Ronald Reagan's Ambassador to the United Nations during 1981–85.


Born in Oklahoma to a wealthy oil family, Jean Jordan attended Stephens College in Missouri and Barnard College (BA 1948) in New York City where she majored in political science. She took a master's degree in political science at Columbia University in 1950.

After studying in Paris, in 1953 she worked at the Department of Defense. In 1955 she married Evron Kirkpatrick, an eminent political scientist. They had three sons.

Her teaching career began in 1962 at Trinity College in Washington until 1967, when she became a faculty member in the political science department at Georgetown University. In 1968 she completed her PhD dissertation, which examined the Peronist movement in Argentina, and received a doctorate in political science from Columbia University. In 1978 she was named Thomas and Dorothy Leavey University Professor at Georgetown University.


A lifelong Democrat, Kirkpatrick worked in both state and national campaigns including Hubert Humphrey's 1972 presidential campaign. She grew increasingly dissatisfied, however, with the Democratic Party's far-left faction led by George McGovern, the 1972 nominee for president. In 1972 she was a co-founder of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. Her conservative writings regarding United States foreign policy impressed presidential candidate Ronald Reagan, and during his 1980 presidential campaign she worked as his national security advisor.


Upon Reagan's election, he appointed her as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, a position she held from 1981 to 1985. In 1986 she joined the Republican Party and returned to her teaching position at Georgetown University.

Conservative critic

Kirkpatrick spoke out on foreign policy. In a major address at the 1996 Republican National Convention, she accused the Clinton Administration of not maintaining the Nation's military preparedness, arguing that Clinton allowed the United Nations to have control over United States troops. She charged that he had sent American troops into dangerous areas where the United States had no national interests and then had not supported them with adequate arms, training, or intelligence information. She also contended that he had not provided funding for a missile defense system, while other countries were increasing their weaponry, including nuclear arsenals, thereby placing the United States and its allies at risk.

Further reading