Jeane Kirkpatrick Troubled by Bush’s Decision to Go to War

David Corn has reviewed Jeane Kirkpatrick’s upcoming book, Making War to Keep Peace. Kirpatrick, who died in December, was Ambassador to the United Nations under Ronald Reagan. With this background, and a title like this, many might be surprised to read that Kirkpatrick had grave reservations about the Iraq war:

On a personal note, I have dedicated much of my professional life to reconciling what I consider the twin goals of American foreign policy, and that is why President George W. Bush’s decision to go to war has troubled me deeply.

These twin goals of our foreign policy are, first, ensuring our security and, second, promoting democracy and human rights. An appropriate balance between the two must exist, and that balance must be determined within the unique circumstances of any situation. Yet, for democracy to take hold in a given region, it must be preceded by institutions that are receptive and willing to support democracy–because democracy requires security as a prerequisite. That is why, throughout history, if the single force of political stability in a region is removed without critical institutions in place to fill the resulting vacuum of power, the security of societies and their budding institutions will be precarious at best.

Unfortunately, what we face in Iraq today is a vacuum of power, a lack of stable institutions needed to govern, and the problem that the promise of democracy for which our nation stands may be lost in the essential scramble for safety and stability in the streets. This is one of the reasons I am uneasy about the war we have made here–for we have helped to create the chaos that has overtaken the country, and we may have reduced rather than promoted the pace of democratic reform.

In public, Kirpatrick backed Bush’s policies. Bush had even appointed her head of the US delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, where she acted to keep the commission from passing a resolution condemning the Iraq invasion as illegal.  It is good to at least read that in private Kirpatrick is yet another Republican leader who had had reservations about Bush’s policies.


  1. 1
    Georgette Orwell says:

    It would have been much better had she been yet another Republican leader who had reservations about the policy in PUBLIC.

  2. 2
    battlebob says:

    The reality is Administraitons pay attention to goal 1 (ensuring our security) at the expense of goal 2 (promoting democracy and human rights).
    The reason large part sof the world hate us is we promote goal 2 but don’t deliver it.
    By ignoring goal 2, we never achieve goal 1.
    Having balance would be nice. That went out the window when Bush was elected.

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