Jeane Kirkpatrick

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[W]e are playing Monopoly. The only question is whether they will checkmate us before we bankrupt them.

Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick (November 19, 1926December 7, 2006) was an American conservative political scientist and member of the neoconservative movement. After serving as Ronald Reagan's foreign policy adviser in his 1980 campaign, she was nominated as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and was the first woman to hold this position.





Dictatorships and Double Standards (1979)

"Dictatorships and Double Standards" (November 1979), Commentary, New York
  • Traditional autocrats leave in place existing allocations of wealth, power, status, and other re- sources which in most traditional societies favor an affluent few and maintain masses in poverty. But they worship traditional gods and observe traditional taboos. They do not disturb the habitual rhythms of work and leisure, habitual places of residence, habitual patterns of family and personal relations. Because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to ordinary people who, growing up in the society, learn to cope, as children born to untouchables in India acquire the skills and attitudes necessary for survival in the miserable roles they are destined to fill.
  • Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world’s policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world’s midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war.
  • No idea holds greater sway in the minds of educated Americans that the belief that it is possible to democratize governments anytime and anywhere under any circumstances .
    • As quoted in The Economist (23 December 2006), p. 131
  • The speed with which armies collapse, bureaucracies abdicate, and social structures dissolve once the autocrat is removed frequently surprises American Policy makers.
    • As quoted in The Economist (23 December 2006), p. 131
  • Decades, if not centuries are normally required for people to acquire the necessary disciplines and habits [for democracy]. In Britain, the road [to democratic government] took seven centuries to traverse.
    • As quoted in The Economist (23 December 2006), p. 131


  • When our Marines, sent to Lebanon on a multinational peacekeeping mission with the consent of the United States Congress, were murdered in their sleep, the "blame America first crowd" didn't blame the terrorists who murdered the Marines, they blamed the United States. But then, they always blame America first. ... The American people know better.
  • Neither nature, experience, nor probability informs these lists of "entitlements", which are subject to no constraints except those of the mind and appetite of their authors.
  • Russia is playing chess, while we are playing Monopoly. The only question is whether they will checkmate us before we bankrupt them.
    • Speech given during the 1988 Barrick Lecture Series, at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Quotes about Kirkpatrick

  • Jean Kirkpatrick [is] the chief sadist-in-residence of the Reagan Administration
    • Noam Chomsky, The Empire and Ourselves, A Solidarity Pamphlet (April 9, 1986) [1]
  • The right to free speech./Jeanne Kirkpatrick walks out when students hiss./She has the right to free speech/any time/anywhere/because she defends/U.S. imperialism./But Merle Woo?/Merle Woo gets fired/from the classroom./She speaks about democracy./For students, staff and faculty. Against censorship./For a Third World College. Against cultural genocide./For lesbians and gays. Against heterosexism./For the possibility of all our voices,/in all languages, singing out.