As U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick has represented a dramatic change in style and approach from her immediate predecessors (and, in her confrontational predilections, from all previous American U.N. ambassadors except for Daniel Patrick Moynihan). Her political philosophy, her attitude toward the United Nations and her relations with African delegates, in particular, are diametrically opposed to those of Andrew Young and Donald McHenry. They were liberals; she is a staunch neo-conservative on foreign policy issues. They saw the United Nations as a helpful forum for arriving at peaceful solutions; she considers it "a dangerous place" where conflicts tend to be exacerbated. They cultivated the African representatives at the United Nations and frequently represented black African viewpoints in Washington; she reflects the Reagan line, which is perceptibly friendlier to South Africa. These differences are not merely personal; they reflect differences in attitudes between the Carter and Reagan Administrations.

To understand Jeane Kirkpatrick, one must first understand her political philosophy. In foreign policy she is a conservative. She acts and speaks out of ideological conviction, as the representative of an Administration that is, by American standards, unusually ideological. She is critical of those who believe that Americans "should concern ourselves with universal values, with abstract supranational goals, with what they are predisposed to call democracy and freedom, and not with such mundane matters as American power."1 Her criticism does not mean that she is skeptical about the virtues of democracy and freedom. On the contrary, she is firmly convinced that the American concepts of democracy and freedom are superior to Marxism or any other collectivist society. Rather, her criticism is directed against those who would subordinate U.S. national interests-and particularly in the East-West struggle she sees in deeply moral terms-to "abstract" moral concerns directed at U.S. allies or associates.

Her ideological affinity with the President is made clear in the essays and speeches collected in her most recent book, The Reagan Phenomenon. In the foreword, Robert Nisbet (noting her involvement in the formulation of foreign policy, not only as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations, but also as a member of the Cabinet and the National Security Council) concludes that "her admiration for the President is very admirably deep" and that the evidence "suggests accord between the two on matters dealt with in this book." Those matters include policy toward Central America, Israel, Afghanistan, southern Africa, human rights, the Soviet Union and the United Nations. Like Reagan, she tends to view foreign policy issues in terms of Soviet-U.S. confrontation and considers détente to have been a mistake.

In the lead address of the book, "The Reagan Phenomenon and the Liberal Tradition," originally delivered on May 28, 1981,2 Kirkpatrick declares that "the liberal democratic and the Marxist-Leninist traditions are antithetical in their conceptions of human life and politics as well as in their practices." She sees American power as "necessary for the survival of liberal democracy"; concludes that détente had not produced "the expected liberalization in the U.S.S.R."; notes Soviet gains in Ethiopia, Angola, Nicaragua, Southern Yemen and Afghanistan in the 1970s; sees Reagan's election as the end of the Vietnam era and a return of the nation's self-confidence; and calls for greater clarity and firmness toward the U.S.S.R.

That speech, clear in its application to relations between the industrialized Western countries and the Soviet bloc, leaves unanswered the question of how to deal with more than a hundred countries that fit in neither category. What about countries that profess a brand of Marxism but reject domination by either superpower? What about dictatorships like Zaïre, South Korea, the Philippines and many others that are anti-communist but are clearly not liberal democracies? Kirkpatrick addresses that question in her best-known essay, "Dictatorships and Double Standards," which appeared in Commentary in November 1979 and brought her to Reagan's attention.3

She starts her essay with an attack on the Carter Administration, "whose crowning achievement has been to lay the groundwork for a transfer of the Panama Canal from the United States to a swaggering Latin dictator of Castroite bent." She then charges that in Iran and Nicaragua, "it actively collaborated in the replacement of moderate autocrats friendly to American interests with less friendly autocrats of extremist persuasion." And she goes on to argue that the United States was wrong in trying "to impose liberalization and democratization on a government confronted with violent internal opposition-not only in Nicaragua and Iran but also in Angola, Vietnam, Cuba before the triumph of Castro and China before the fall of Chiang Kai-shek." This is indeed a formidable and striking catalogue, indicating clearly that (at least in hindsight) she would have favored unquestioning U.S. support of Portuguese colonialism, Ngo Dinh Diem, and Fulgencio Batista, as well as Chiang. All of these cases were surely far more complex than her analysis suggests; and it is difficult to find a "moderate" autocrat among them. In the case of Chiang's China and Diem's South Vietnam, the regimes were so weak and unpopular that the real question is whether the United States acted wisely in giving them as much support as it did.

Yet Kirkpatrick has a point. The overwhelming majority of nations in the world are not liberal democracies; hence, we rarely have the choice between dealing with "good" democracies and "bad" dictatorships. Nor, as she points out, does the United States have the capacity to democratize and modernize these countries. Still, if we are to deal with a nation at all, we must deal with its government, however imperfect. (The Carter Administration, despite its emphasis on human rights, maintained relationships with right-wing dictators in Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as with left-wing ones in Yugoslavia.)

There are, of course, gray areas, such as the 1979 "internal settlement" government of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia, where the United States followed the British lead in withholding recognition, a policy sharply criticized by Kirkpatrick in her article. Had the United States recognized the Muzorewa government, it could not have a useful relationship with the present government of Zimbabwe. While professing Marxism, Robert Mugabe has been notably less friendly toward the U.S.S.R. than toward the United States.

Kirkpatrick makes a distinction between "traditional" dictators such as the Shah and General Somoza, who allegedly offer a hope of gradual democratization, and totalitarian (communist) dictators, who offer no such hope. Yet, as the staunchly anti-communist Theodore Draper has pointed out, the distinction is hardly so ironclad: there are Marxist regimes that have introduced degrees of liberalization (e.g., Yugoslavia, Hungary) and right-wing dictators who have not liberalized at all. (Draper also notes that it was not traditional in Nicaragua for the dictator to own 50 percent of all property, and that the Shah's downfall was precipitated largely by his efforts to modernize a traditional society too fast.)4

However much scholars may dispute the pros and cons of Kirkpatrick's thesis, Ronald Reagan welcomed it; it fitted in perfectly with his policy of confronting communism. Indeed, he has made the doctrine his own, particularly in Central America, with military aid to the government of El Salvador fighting rebels there and to rebels fighting the Marxist government of Nicaragua. And Kirkpatrick is in the inner circle of policymaking for Latin America, currently serving as the President's representative to the Kissinger commission on Central America and widely accorded a major responsibility for the harder line toward Nicaragua evident since mid-1983.


Clearly, Kirkpatrick's political philosophy has had a decisive impact on her attitude and actions at the United Nations. She has returned to the Moynihan tactics of confrontation with the "nonaligned" majority. Like Moynihan, she is convinced that the United States must state its views clearly and consistently at the United Nations, and she and her team have done so. She has not hesitated to stand alone on issues and has done so with great regularity. No one can doubt the consistency, coherence and firmness of U.S. behavior at the United Nations during her tenure, and that has gained a measure of respect even from opponents.5

But speeches and resolutions are not all that happen at the United Nations, even though they consume the bulk of its time and are most visible to the public. Most speeches and General Assembly resolutions are soon forgotten. Important actions can be taken only by governments, and influence on them can usually be effected by informal conversations and a persuasive ear rather than public rhetoric and votes. Indeed, in my own 15 years at the United Nations, I found these informal conversations more important and productive than public rhetoric. One of Kirkpatrick's principal deputies has referred to the United Nations as a "soapbox" rather than a place for negotiation, and that appears to characterize her Mission's approach.

Underlying this approach is Kirkpatrick's belief that the United Nations as it now functions has strayed from the goals of the Charter and that it is now an arena where conflicts are exacerbated rather than resolved. In her book she concedes that the United Nations of the 1960s played a useful role in ameliorating dangerous situations in the Congo (now Zaïre), Cyprus and the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965. But, she argues, current debates at the United Nations tend to exacerbate conflicts for three main reasons:

1. The number of parties to the conflict is extended, as countries feel constrained to participate in debates and vote on issues in which they have no direct interest.

2. The pressure to vote and choose sides breeds polarization.

3. The blocs at the United Nations are mechanisms for conflict exacerbation and extension; e.g., the use by the Arab group of their position within the Afro-Asian bloc to generate speeches and resolutions against Israel and the United States.6

In an interview with the author on April 7, 1983, Ambassador Kirkpatrick was asked whether, on balance, she considered the U.N.'s influence as positive or negative. In reply, she said there were two United Nations. The United Nations of the High Commissioner for Refugees, the Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was a constructive force. On political and security issues, however, she considered it a negative influence, for the reasons cited above.

Ambassador Kirkpatrick is on solid ground when she notes that most debates in the General Assembly are ideological and that there is little room for compromise or negotiation on resolutions. Also, discussion and voting in the General Assembly naturally widen the circle of participation. And sometimes bringing an issue to the United Nations is a hostile act, as when the Arab countries bombard the General Assembly with a plethora of resolutions against Israel.

But the U.N.'s record on conflict resolution, while far below the expectations of 1945, has much more to its credit than the three cases cited by Ambassador Kirkpatrick. One could add a host of other examples, such as the peaceful settlement of the dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands on West Irian, the Iranian agreement to allow a U.N. referendum which resulted in the independence of Bahrain, and the presence of a U.N. peacekeeping force to stop the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Egypt in Yemen. In fact, of more than 150 disputes submitted to the Security Council and the General Assembly, only a dozen long-range problems have thus far defied solution.7 The others have been resolved through the United Nations or between the parties themselves.

Ambassador Kirkpatrick could point out, with justification, that these successes are in the past; the United Nations has had little impact on current disputes such as the Iran-Iraq war, Arab-Israel disputes, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, and the conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua. But there have been "slumps" before, notably from 1952 to 1956; consequently, it may be premature to give up on the United Nations as an instrument of peace.

Her negative view of the United Nations is reflected in "Standing Alone," an address Kirkpatrick made in October 1981.8 She refers to the United States as "impotent" at the United Nations, noting that the United States and Israel are the only two countries that are not members of geographic blocs; e.g., Afro-Asian, Latin American, Eastern European and Western Europe and Other (WEO). There are also sub-groups, such as the EEC-10 (Common Market), the African, Asian and Arab blocs and ASEAN (Southeast Asia). These groups play a key role in deciding on candidacies, proposing agenda items and resolutions and mobilizing votes. The Soviets dominate a bloc of about a dozen countries which, except for Romania on occasion, can be expected to do their bidding. By contrast, that the United States is not a member of any bloc is a handicap.

Yet the handicap need not be crippling. The United States has frequent informal meetings with the WEO group and has friends in all the other groups except the Soviet bloc. And foreign representatives to the United Nations are not fools, even though many occasionally make foolish speeches. They recognize that the United Nations cannot do anything important without U.S. cooperation. It should be noted that the membership went through an entire session of the General Assembly in 1964-65 without voting rather than risk the withdrawal of either superpower.

What the nonaligned, constituting almost two thirds of the membership, do control is the agenda and the flow of resolutions in the General Assembly, as Kirkpatrick notes in "Standing Alone." They have used that majority to focus on Israeli-Arab issues, Namibia, South Africa and the New International Economic Order (NIEO)-all issues on which the United States is in the minority. The Soviets take an opportunistic position on these issues, supporting the nonaligned majority on self-determination as long as it is against Western interests; on Afghanistan, where the majority has voted for several resolutions calling for the withdrawal of Soviet troops, Soviet belief in self-determination is less evident.

Whether the nonaligned countries are using their majority wisely is questionable. The fact that they have focused so much on anti-Western issues, with inflamed and repetitive rhetoric and resolutions, has seriously undermined confidence in the United Nations among Western peoples, governments and media. Without such support useful results cannot be achieved. And the disenchantment in the United States has produced the Moynihan and Kirkpatrick reaction of embattled confrontation in the United Nations Still, the United States has some responsibility to lead in more constructive directions and not just exchange brickbats. If there is no hope of constructive dialogues, the nonaligned majority will have no incentive to desist from rhetoric invective and sterile resolutions.

Kirkpatrick's response, like Moynihan's, emphasizes that the United States should take very seriously what representatives say and do at the United Nations. Criticizing previous representatives she says: "We operate as though there were no difference between our relations with supporters and opponents, with no penalties for opposing our views and values and no rewards for cooperating" and "as though we had no coherent national purposes that link issue to issue."9 Under her guidance, the United States has gone more frequently to capitals to object to antagonistic votes or speeches by representatives. Such tactics, if not used to excess, can be very helpful and should be employed on important matters.

But there is a limit to the number of issues that can be usefully discussed in capitals. Often an embassy representative who has only a superficial understanding of an issue must talk with a foreign ministry official who understands even less. Moreover, such a step should only be taken after consultation with the representative at the United Nations; otherwise, one may needlessly antagonize the representative and multiply the number of contacts in the capital beyond the point of diminishing returns.

The difference between Jeane Kirkpatrick and her predecessors is most notable in relations with African delegations. They frequently differed with Andrew Young on particular resolutions and issues, but they liked him and were convinced of his sincerity and understanding. They even would, where possible, try to avoid embarrassing him with the U.S. government. With Kirkpatrick, on the other hand, they feel little sympathy and much resentment against her "uppity" attitude.

Instead of emphasizing empathy with the Third World at the United Nations, Kirkpatrick has shown that the United States can strike back, both in words and action. A notable example was her reaction to a one-sided communiqué of the ministers of foreign affairs and heads of delegations of the nonaligned countries, issued on September 28, 1981, in New York. On October 6, she sent a letter to virtually all U.N. ambassadors who represent nonaligned countries, expressing surprise that the ambassador or his/her country "would or could associate yourselves with a document composed of such base lies and malicious attacks upon the good name of the United States." The letter also noted that the U.S.S.R., which was conducting or supporting occupations of Afghanistan, Kampuchea and Chad, was not mentioned in the communiqué while the United States, which was then occupying no country, was criticized nine times. While Kirkpatrick's points were well taken, her manner of presenting them provoked widespread resentment among the nonaligned ambassadors, including those friendly to the United States.10

Subsequently, she managed to develop reasonable working relationships with several friendly nonaligned ambassadors, but the sense of confrontation persists. U.S. handling of the Law of the Sea Conference (to which we shall return) left particular scars: T. T. B. Koh, the astute and veteran U.N. Ambassador from Singapore, has observed of that period that "the tough tactics of the U.S. didn't go down well with their friends in the (nonaligned) movement." Coming from Koh, who is widely respected and has been one of the staunchest of America's friends over many years, this observation must be taken seriously. And, referring to the nonaligned summit meeting of March 1983, Nigeria's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations said his country and other moderates backed off from an effort to delete specific references to U.S. intervention in Latin America because "we couldn't afford to be seen publicly as giving in to Washington."11

As part of the "get tough" campaign, Washington has been computerizing individual Third World country votes in order to take them into account when considering aid requests. But adjusting the aid spigot to accord with U.N. votes can be difficult, given all the other factors that must be considered. For example, the Soviet Union votes with the United States nearly as often as Jordan does, and Zimbabwe, the recipient of the largest U.S. aid program in Sub-Saharan Africa, votes with the United States less often than Libya.12

Zimbabwe has indeed been a recent test case. Even after an apparently cordial visit by Prime Minister Mugabe to President Reagan in Washington in September, Zimbabwe abstained on the Security Council resolution condemning the Soviets' shooting down a Korean civil airliner. According to The New York Times, Kirkpatrick proposed that aid to Zimbabwe be cut substantially but was successfully opposed by Chester Crocker, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and the Congressional Black Caucus.13


Jeane Jordan Kirkpatrick had many careers-as scholar, teacher, author, lecturer-before she came to the United Nations in 1981. Born in Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1927, she attended Stephens College (Missouri) and received her B.A. from Barnard in 1948, her M.A. from Columbia in 1950 and her Ph.D. from Columbia in 1968. Her doctoral dissertation, on Peronist Argentina, was an important factor in her becoming a specialist on Latin America. In 1955, she married Dr. Evron M. (Kirk) Kirkpatrick, longtime executive director of the American Political Science Association and now Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. They have three grown sons.

An adult lifetime of managing a family and a career have made Jeane Kirkpatrick a disciplined person who makes optimum use of time. Before her appointment to the United Nations, she authored three books (Leader and Vanguard in Mass Society, 1971; Political Women, 1974; and The New Presidential Elite, 1976), and numerous articles in scholarly and influential journals. Meanwhile, she reared a family and carried on a career of teaching and research, principally at Georgetown University and the American Enterprise Institute.14

Her husband, a friend of Hubert Humphrey, led Jeane Kirkpatrick from a scholarly interest in politics to active participation in the Democratic Party. Disappointed by the nomination of George McGovern, they helped in 1972 to found the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. These are Democrats who espouse traditional liberalism on domestic issues but are hard-line conservatives on foreign policy and are popularly known as "neo-conservatives." She became Vice Chairman of the Coalition, which included Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, Eugene Rostow and the late Senator Henry Jackson.

As noted earlier, her Commentary article, "Dictatorships and Double Standards," fitted in admirably with Ronald Reagan's own hardline conservatism and brought her to his attention. She served in his foreign policy advisory group in the 1980 campaign, and her appointment as representative to the United Nations was a natural, from his standpoint. She was a Democrat and the only woman in his initial cabinet-an important consideration for a President whose position on women's rights has been strongly criticized by feminists. Above all, she shared his conservative, anti-Soviet views on foreign policy and could be counted on to be a tough, articulate advocate at the United Nations. At a Cabinet meeting he referred to her as "our heroine."15

Her personal relationship with the President and their shared ideology on foreign policy have given Kirkpatrick a strong position in the Administration. She sits not only in the Cabinet but also in the National Security Council and takes both of these positions seriously; consequently, she is in Washington much of the time. With no strong deputy in overall charge at USUN, she tends to run the Mission by telephone during her frequent absences.16

The chain of command for the U.S. Ambassador at the United Nations has often been a source of confusion and occasionally friction; after all, since Henry Cabot Lodge, the Ambassador has had Cabinet status, although Kirkpatrick is the first to sit regularly at the National Security Council. Yet, with rare exceptions, instructions to New York come at least formally from the State Department, and in many past periods the Department's Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) has been a major participant in framing policy decisions and in their execution. In Ambassador Kirkpatrick's case, the first Assistant Secretary for IO was Elliot Abrams, son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz, who clearly shared the Podhoretz-Kirkpatrick line of thinking. When Abrams moved over to become Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Affairs, he was replaced by Gregory Newell, a man in his thirties who, like Abrams, had little background in international politics. Neither has been a rival for influence: Kirkpatrick runs her own show, reporting more directly than almost any predecessor to the Secretary of State and on frequent occasions to the President.

There were some well-reported differences between Kirkpatrick and Alexander Haig when he was Secretary of State. The best-known was a controversy over her negotiations during Security Council consideration in July 1981 of the Israeli bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction. Under instructions from the State Department to veto any resolution involving sanctions or other punitive measures, she negotiated a condemnatory resolution with Iraq that was mild enough to be acceptable to the United States. Some days later, aides to Haig let out word that she had been prepared to support a resolution that would have imposed sanctions on Israel but that Haig had stepped in to stop it. Haig himself announced the day after the story was made public that there was no truth to it. Still, there was much speculation that the "leak" by the aides reflected a feeling that Haig was not getting due credit.17

Haig, who was periodically a part of the negotiations, at one point asked Kirkpatrick to negotiate for better terms, which is to say terms milder to Israel. That meant, in part, eliminating Iraq's demands for a review of arms policies toward Israel. Kirkpatrick and her team had already been working toward that end and were pleased when the Iraqis decided to drop the whole question of arms policies toward Israel, leaving the way open for a condemnatory resolution in which the United States could join.

Although there was serious concern in Israel that the U.S. vote for condemnation might signal a change in U.S. policy and Kirkpatrick's stance,18 her subsequent actions and statements dispelled such fears. A knowledgeable Israeli observer at the United Nations has described her as "the best representative Israel ever had."

In June of 1982, Haig's differences with Reagan's White House inner circle and his constant press to be publicly acknowledged as the President's "vicar for foreign policy," coupled with policy disputes, led to the acceptance of his resignation. Kirkpatrick was on a trip to Africa at the time, leading to a quip by Oleg Troyanovsky, the Soviet Permanent Representative to the United Nations, that she was the only hunter who had bagged her prey in Washington while on safari in Africa.19

In any case, Haig's replacement by George Shultz ended conflict between Kirkpatrick and the Secretary of State, at least on matters directly related to her U.N. job. Shultz appears to be much more secure in his position and much less concerned with getting credit and jockeying to be closer to the President. Kirkpatrick has continued to have clear access to the President and was in constant touch with Judge William P. Clark when he was Presidential Assistant for National Security Affairs.

She has also filled the controlling upper echelon of her Mission (USUN in bureaucratic parlance)-including all key jobs-with people who share her views. Her alter ego in the Security Council is Ambassador Charles Lichenstein, an old family friend. Lichenstein was a campaign aide to Richard Nixon in the 1960s and served in the Nixon White House from 1969 to 1974, as an assistant for public information, policy development, and congressional and political liaison, and was deputy to White House Counsel Dean Birch in the Ford Administration.

Kirkpatrick's first representative to the Economic and Social Council was José Sorzano, an anti-Castro refugee from Cuba who came to the United States two decades ago, took his Ph.D. in political science at Georgetown, and served as a research assistant for Kirkpatrick's book on Peron. Sorzano's deputy, Mark Plattner, who came from a position with the Twentieth Century Fund, is also a neo-conservative. Her chief counselor is Carl Gershman, for years head of the militantly anti-communist Social Democrats-USA and a writer known for his opposition to special allowances and moral dispensations for the Third World. Gershman had earlier done public relations work for Jonas Savimbi, leader of the anti-communist insurgents in Angola. It is a team long on loyalty to Kirkpatrick and sharing her neo-conservative views but short on experience in international diplomacy.20

Initially, the Deputy Permanent Representative was Marshall Brement, a career Foreign Service officer who came to the post from an assignment on the National Security Council and considered himself compatible with the new team. Nevertheless, he was generally shut out of Kirkpatrick's inner circle and left by mutual accord after seven months to become ambassador to Iceland. He was replaced by Kenneth L. Adelman, 36, who had served on Reagan's transition team and shared Kirkpatrick's views fully. In fact, Adelman's tough anti-Soviet speeches earned him the sobriquet of USUN's "hit man" among U.N. diplomats.21 A man of considerable charm and intellect and an accomplished writer, he was handicapped by a lack of diplomatic experience. In January 1983, Adelman was nominated to be Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and, after several months of controversy over his lack of experience in arms control, won confirmation by the Senate. José Sorzano, Kirkpatrick's Georgetown protégé, has replaced Adelman.

The only top-level holdover was Ambassador Richard Petree, Deputy Representative to the Security Council, and an able, experienced career Foreign Service officer who had served at USUN under three other Permanent Representatives, including William Scranton, a Republican. He was fully prepared to serve loyally under Kirkpatrick but, like Brement, found himself left out of the inner circle. After six months Petree decided to retire and accept a position as president of the U.S.-Japan Foundation. He was replaced by William C. Sherman, another veteran Foreign Service officer. Despite his title, Sherman rarely speaks in the Security Council; Lichenstein serves as Kirkpatrick's alter ego there. Instead, Sherman's principal job is running the Mission's staff. He is not an insider. Only those of the Commentary-Georgetown-neo-conservative team are in the inner circle. As a result, many veteran staff members feel left out of the mainstream.

While U.S. Permanent Representatives have usually brought some congenial individuals with them, often as deputy, secretary or press spokesman, they have generally kept experienced staff and assigned key roles to capable Foreign Service personnel to a much greater degree than Kirkpatrick has. Even Andrew Young, though he was determined to have a strong personal influence on policy, had a number of experienced professionals in key spots and they had influence on him. His principal deputy was James Leonard, a veteran Foreign Service Officer. His deputy for the Security Council, Donald McHenry, had long years of experience in the State Department dealing with U.N. affairs. McHenry was used fully in the Security Council and in working, with substantial authority, toward a settlement in Namibia. He also did not hesitate to argue with Young where he differed on policy. And he succeeded Young as Permanent Representative in August 1979. Finally, there was Petree, who had ambassadorial status and succeeded McHenry as deputy for the Security Council in 1979. Thus, three of the four deputies with ambassadorial rank were professionals; they knew the United Nations, had wide contacts and were respected by other delegations and key Secretariat officials.

Yet Ambassador Kirkpatrick herself has decried the amateurism and ineptitude of U.S. representation at the United Nations. In a speech to the Heritage Foundation, she declared that our Permanent Representatives and Assistant Secretaries for International Organization had changed so rapidly that it took much of their tenure to gain the necessary experience.22 Given the turnover in American Presidents, a comparable turnover in U.S. Permanent Representatives appears inevitable. Yet Warren Austin served for six years, Henry Cabot Lodge for seven, Adlai Stevenson for four and a half, Arthur Goldberg and Young for almost three each. Moreover, the record shows that even short-term Permanent Representatives can serve successfully if they come with political skills and use an experienced staff. Scranton, George W. Ball and McHenry, for example, were most effective.

Although insensitive to the need for professionals in upper echelons, Jeane Kirkpatrick, to her credit, has acted to improve the conditions of service at USUN for career Foreign Service officers. The most important change is a system whereby the major part of their rent in expensive Manhattan is paid by the government, bringing their allowances closer to those of foreign representatives. She has also proposed that Foreign Service Officers serve longer at USUN than the usual two or three years, a sound idea in light of the complexity of multilateral diplomacy at the United Nations and the importance of knowing people as well as issues. Yet these changes will mean little unless the career professionals feel that they have meaningful input into the formulation and implementation of policy and are not shut out by an inner circle of ideologues. Throughout the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, USUN was the most professional and experienced of all missions and was respected as such. Then the experienced professionals were in the inner circle, had an impact on policy, and many rose to ambassadorial rank at USUN. With the loyal support they provided, even a new Permanent Representative could function effectively.


The lack of experienced professionals in key roles has been a particular handicap in dealing with other U.N. missions, including those of friendly Western European allies. Numerous Western diplomats and U.N. Secretariat officials have commented on the limited availability of Kirkpatrick and her staff. Since she spends much of her time in Washington, abroad, or making speeches, her appearances in the U.N. building are usually for specific purposes, such as making a statement or seeing the Secretary-General. Neither she nor her principal deputies appear to spend much time in the Delegates Lounge, the time-honored center for informal contacts, picking up information, consulting and getting acquainted.23 This is where early warning signals can be picked up on the projected moves of other delegations and where preliminary soundings can be made quickly on U.S. initiatives. It is especially important for the United States, which is not a member of any geographic group.

When Kirkpatrick does appear, she has clout. Though characterized as "a hard-line conservative" and tough in the sense of standing firm on her convictions, Kirkpatrick is not bombastic and does not shout. Her political philosophy and attitude toward the United Nations are very much like Moynihan's, but where he was flamboyant she is low-key. Yet she commands attention, not only as the representative of a superpower who is clearly supported by the President, but also as a person who crafts her statements with care. Delegates listen carefully, knowing that she means what she says. But many are turned off by her professorial style of lecturing and the fact that she does not spend much time listening to other people. A senior diplomat representing one of America's closest allies observed that the Reagan-Kirkpatrick ideology puts the United States in a difficult position at the United Nations, and that her confrontational style makes it worse. Another, citing these problems and the lack of any senior USUN staff with political savvy at the United Nations, said it added up to "a disaster."24

Kirkpatrick has been criticized for her tendency to lecture Third World representatives as if they were undergraduates, for not learning the intricacies of U.N. politics, and for preferring to express her ideology rather than focus on concrete political goals. These views are expressed in interviews with representatives of friendly NATO allies as well as by Third World representatives and coincide with those gleaned by reporters for major newspapers and a national magazine (which early stated: "Friends and foes alike consider Kirkpatrick's staff inexperienced and inept").25 Similar comments were made to a Canadian professor who polled about 80 U.N. diplomats in connection with a book he is writing.

While she may differ as to the reasons, Kirkpatrick herself testifies to the fact that the United States is isolated at the United Nations.26 In another speech on "Problems of the Alliance," she noted: "At the United Nations, the alliance is not very strong. At the United Nations, the United States frequently stands alone on controversial issues, some of which are very important to us, some of which are important to others. At the United Nations, our European allies often prefer a posture of nonalignment between us and the Group of 77 on the so-called North-South issues, which consume much of the time of that organization. On some other issues, they vote with our adversaries."27

On the positive side, Kirkpatrick is credited with giving strong, effective responses to Soviet attacks. She is at home and gracious in French and speaks Spanish fluently. Also, even those who criticize her ideological fervor and style acknowledge that she is not personally vindictive or petty. And her performance has improved as she has gained experience at the United Nations.

In the past two years, she has developed a successful and important relationship with Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, who became the Secretary-General of the United Nations in early 1982. An experienced Peruvian diplomat who has served as his country's ambassador to Moscow, Pérez de Cuéllar is liked and respected by U.N. diplomats and the Secretariat's top staff, with whom he worked for almost a decade. He served as Peru's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, 1971-75; was the Secretary-General's Special Representative to Cyprus, 1975-77, and U.N. Undersecretary General for Special Political Affairs, 1979-81.) It is also well known that he did not campaign for the job and that he intends to retire after one five-year term; consequently, he has no need to bend to political pressures from any member or group of members. Kirkpatrick calls him "a man of great intelligence, high integrity; he is an unusually fair, reasonable, decent man."28 She told me she briefs him regularly on the Middle East, Central America, Namibia and other areas where the United Nations and the United States share concerns and that he is most appreciative.29

She has also expressed full support for the Secretary-General's efforts aimed at strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to maintain peace. In a most candid and perceptive introduction to his annual report to the U.N. General Assembly in September 1982, Pérez de Cuéllar noted that the Security Council, which the U.N. Charter charges with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, too often finds itself unable to take decisive action to resolve international conflicts. Its resolutions are increasingly defied or ignored. Too often the Council seems powerless to generate the support and influence necessary to insure that its decisions are respected.30

There are, of course, two sides to the coin. While members should, under the Charter, comply with Security Council decisions, much depends upon the way in which those decisions are reached. If the Council is pushed by a transitory majority into debates and resolutions that are one-sided and propagandistic, its decisions will not command respect or compliance. If, on the other hand, the Council's members strive for the objective, impartial resolution of disputes and take decisions that have general support, those decisions are more likely to secure the cooperation of member states.

In his report, the Secretary-General suggested various ways of strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to maintain peace. These include: first, earlier recourse to the Security Council and a more active role by the Council in initiating discussion or action before a dispute reaches a point of crisis; second, a review of the functioning of the Security Council, including its procedures to facilitate the objectives just mentioned; third, the maintenance of adequate working relations among the permanent members of the Security Council within the Council for the purpose of the peaceful resolution of disputes whatever their relations may be outside the United Nations; and, fourth, the serious effort by governments to follow through with real and active support after decisions have been adopted by the Security Council.

Kirkpatrick has expressed full support for the Secretary-General's efforts. Despite some skepticism as to prospects for success, she has participated actively in informal meetings of the Security Council to consider his suggestions. (In addition to his concerns, she is disturbed by what she calls recent "General Assemblyization" of the Security Council. This is the tendency to load the speakers' roster with nonmembers of the Council who can be counted on to support a particular viewpoint; this places the emphasis on polemics rather than negotiation.) She has consulted very frequently with the British representatives, Sir John Thomson and his predecessor, Sir Anthony Parsons, on ways to make the informal meetings more fruitful.


In the handling of specific issues at the United Nations, as already noted, no U.S. representative has been a firmer friend of Israel than Jeane Kirkpatrick. She has not hesitated to urge using the American veto in the Security Council or voting alone with Israel when she believes that Israel is being treated unfairly. Given the Arab influence within the "nonaligned" movement, which constitutes a majority of U.N. membership, along with Soviet opportunism and West European ambivalence, that is often. In the Security Council she has also used the potential U.S. veto to secure changes in draft resolutions. The resolution concerning Israel's attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor, discussed above, is a notable example.

Support for Israel fits her neo-conservative philosophy on foreign policy. Her personal sympathy was made clear when she attended the Third World Conference on Soviet Jewry in Jerusalem, March 15-17, 1983. Israel is strong, a democracy, and a firm friend of the United States. And the blatant one-sidedness of the U.N. majority on Arab-Israeli issues outrages her sense of fair play, as she makes clear in The Reagan Phenomenon. In a 1981 speech, "Israel as Scapegoat," she compares U.N. procedures with the Camp David process, which was oriented toward practical results and limited to the parties directly concerned and the United States as mediator.31 By contrast, she finds that at the United Nations the objective was not to find common ground but to isolate and denigrate Israel and "ultimately to undermine its political legitimacy." A decisive role is played by the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

One example she cites was a Security Council resolution in 1981 that sought to blame Israel for the violence committed against the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem by a deranged Australian Jew-an act that had been unequivocally denounced by the Israeli authorities. The United States voted against the draft resolution. Meanwhile the Council was ignoring the bloody Iran-Iraq war, the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

On one important issue of substance-Israeli settlements in the West Bank-Ambassador Kirkpatrick has almost certainly played an important part in a U.S. position significantly different from that of the Carter Administration. She has consistently vetoed resolutions condemning these settlements, while recording the Reagan position that, though not illegal, they are "obstacles to peace."

Ambassador Kirkpatrick has been like her predecessors in taking a totally firm and strong stand against the repeated and blatantly unfair efforts of certain Arab states to deprive Israel of the right to participate in the U.N. General Assembly. The procedure specified in the U.N. Charter for suspending or expelling a member requires a recommendation from the Security Council. Such a recommendation would certainly be vetoed by the United States, and probably by Britain and France as well.

A more likely threat is action in the General Assembly to deny Israel participation in its work by rejecting the credentials of its delegation. Such action was taken in 1974 against South Africa, which has not participated in the United Nations since then. Similar action against Israel, whose delegation is chosen by a representative, democratic government, would not only be contrary to the U.N. Charter but also grossly unfair. Though the General Assembly condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, there has been no suggestion that the Soviets be barred from participation. And in 1981, while Iraq was invading Iran, an Iraqi was elected president of the Assembly. Israel, surrounded by enemies, has resorted to arms against threats to its survival, certainly under more serious threat than the U.S.S.R. and Iraq when they undertook their invasions.

On October 16, 1982, Secretary of State Shultz made the U.S. position clear. He stated that such action would be a clear-cut violation of the U.N. Charter, would create further conflict and division and "would do great damage to the entire United Nations system." He warned that, if the action were taken, the United States would withdraw from participation in the General Assembly and withhold its assessed contributions.32

The attempt to exclude Israel came during the 37th session of the General Assembly in the fall of 1982. Shultz's warning, made more credible by the withdrawal of the U.S. delegation to the Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency following the rejection of Israeli credentials there, had a strong impact on U.N. delegations, including the Arabs. Moreover, Kirkpatrick and her delegation worked hard at persuasion and the Secretary-General forcefully lobbied against the attempt to expel Israel, arguing that it would spell disaster for the organization.33 The majority of Arabs then backed away from such action, and the attempt by a non-Arab country, Iran, to bring the issue to a vote was easily blocked. A similar attempt at the 38th session in 1983 was also defeated.


Latin America has been an area of great interest to Jeane Kirkpatrick since she began work on her dissertation on Peronist Argentina almost two decades ago. It is not surprising that she has focused major attention on Latin American issues at the United Nations and has had great influence on policymaking in Washington. Her positions have been consistent with the hard-line conservatism expounded in "Dictatorships and Double Standards," particularly with regard to El Salvador and Nicaragua. It seems clear that she and William Clark were principally responsible for the replacement of Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Enders and Ambassador to El Salvador Deane Hinton in May 1983. Enders and Hinton, neither of whom has had a notably dovish record in the career Foreign Service, were identified with a two-track approach, i.e., negotiations with the rebels in El Salvador and with Nicaragua while continuing military aid to El Salvador. This approach was apparently not hard-line enough for Clark and Kirkpatrick.

In October 1983, Clark was nominated for the post of Secretary of the Interior and was succeeded by his deputy, Robert McFarlane. The shift meant not only that Kirkpatrick lost out on a job that she undoubtedly would have preferred but also that she has lost an important ally (Clark) in the National Security Council. It remains to be seen whether this personnel action signifies a definite shift in Reagan's policy toward a willingness to accept the present revolutionary regime in Nicaragua under conditions that would minimize its security threat to other Central American countries and to the United States, or whether the President will pursue a policy of destabilizing or toppling that regime, as was done in Grenada.

In line with its traditional position that Central American and Caribbean issues should be dealt with in the Organization of American States (OAS), a regional organization of the type envisaged in Chapter VIII of the U.N. Charter, the United States has not brought such issues to the United Nations. But other countries have, and the United States has had to face the issues there.

At the 36th session of the General Assembly in 1982, a draft resolution was introduced reaffirming a Franco-Mexican communiqué which supported a negotiated settlement between the government of El Salvador and the rebels. Despite U.S. opposition the resolution was co-sponsored by five of its NATO partners. Nine of the ten EEC countries supported it; only the United Kingdom abstained. The resolution was adopted, over the negative votes of some 20 Latin nations. Kirkpatrick deplored this as "an ominous pattern," showing her own conviction that the United States was right and its European allies wrong and that they should have displayed greater solidarity.34

At the 37th session (1982) Nicaragua was elected to one of the two Latin American seats on the U.N. Security Council. It garnered the necessary two-thirds majority, despite strenuous U.S. efforts to forestall its election. This is in marked contrast with the failure of Cuba in 1979, when it had the chairmanship of the nonaligned group, to win a seat on the Security Council. At that time the United States was following a notably more sympathetic policy toward the Third World and that may have had an impact on the voting.

On March 23, 1983, Nicaragua brought to the U.N. Security Council a charge that the United States was aiding rebel groups in their efforts to overthrow the government in Managua. Nicaragua said it did not seek a resolution but rather a public forum to express its concern.

In response, Mrs. Kirkpatrick described the Nicaraguan complaint as the claim of a new right-"the right of repression of its own people with impunity and with immunity from the consequences thereof." She pointed out that the Nicaraguan ruling group had reneged on its promises to the OAS, in a letter dated July 17, 1979, of "a broadly representative democratic government," with "full observance of human rights" and free elections. She observed that the independent political parties representing the private sector withdrew from the Council of State in protest against the violence and jailing of their leaders and the suppression of free speech; that labor unions "were harnessed and harassed when they tried to resist being incorporated into the state"; that the churches have been progressively repressed; and that no free elections have been held or even scheduled.35

Speaking again on March 25, Mrs. Kirkpatrick reiterated her charges of Nicaraguan internal repression and intervention in El Salvador. She also found it necessary to take issue with certain friendly or neutral governments whose statements, she said, indicated that "the confusion and intimidation had already had insidious effects"; i.e., Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and China.36

It is hard to believe that these governments, regardless of the wisdom of their positions, took them as a result of confusion and intimidation. Indeed, that statement appears to stand in contrast with her own evaluation in her New York Times essay of March 31, entitled "U.N. Mugging Fails." There she argues that neither "the United States nor Honduras was isolated and the Nicaraguans did not secure broad support for their preferred bilateral approach. Instead, support developed for a regional approach to what are clearly regional problems." She cites Venezuela's backing for a conference of the Central American countries "plus five neighboring democracies," Colombia, Mexico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Panama. (And where would Panama and the other Latin American countries have stood if the Carter Administration had not negotiated a treaty to turn over, in gradual stages, control of the Canal to that "swaggering dictator"?) She concludes: "The losers in this unconventional United Nations drama were those who seek to use United Nations arenas and procedures to polarize nations, spread hostility and exacerbate conflict for short-range political advantage. The winners are all those who hope it is not too late to restore the Security Council as an arena for their rational discussion and management of international disputes."37 But the support the United States received was in favor of a negotiated settlement, not of the "contras" trying to destabilize the Nicaraguan government.

It is doubtful that the Sandinistas considered themselves losers. They came to the Security Council in order to have a forum to express their views and get media attention-which they did.

In the Falklands (Malvinas) crisis, Kirkpatrick found herself torn between our British and Latin American allies. She tried briefly to dissuade the U.K. representative, Sir Anthony Parsons, a highly skilled career diplomat with long experience at the United Nations, from bringing the issue to the Security Council, arguing that airing it there would make the Argentines less willing to compromise. Nevertheless, the British went ahead and the Council began discussion of the issue on April 1, 1982.

By unfortunate coincidence Ambassador Kirkpatrick was the guest of honor at a dinner at the Argentine embassy in Washington the next evening. Also present were Deputy Secretary of State Walter Stoessel and Assistant Secretary Enders. That same day Argentine troops had invaded the Falklands, President Galtieri having ignored Reagan's telephone advice not to resort to force.38

Because of the diplomatic skills of Parsons and his team, British demarches in certain key capitals, and the naked character of the Argentine invasion, Britain won support for a resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and withdrawal of all Argentine forces from the Falklands (Resolution 502, April 3, 1982). The vote was ten in favor, one against (Panama) and four abstentions (U.S.S.R., Poland, China and Spain). The United States voted with its British ally and Kirkpatrick, despite her initial misgivings about bringing the issue to the Council, subsequently expressed admiration for the great skill of Parsons and his team at the United Nations.39 Guyana and all five African and Asian members voted with the British, despite the fact that Argentina is sometimes considered a Third World nation and was arguing the question as a colonial issue.

In the ensuing weeks, while Britain prepared its military counterattack, Secretary Haig undertook an exhausting mission of mediation, shuttling between London, Buenos Aires and Washington. Then on May 2, Secretary-General Pérez de Cuéllar, who had discreetly stood aside during Haig's attempt, began mediation efforts with the Argentine and British representatives at the United Nations. (On that same day Haig had announced the failure of his mission and the General Belgrano was sunk, followed two days later by the sinking of HMS Sheffield.) By May 14, Pérez was cautiously optimistic that he had an agreement on a "set of ideas for a negotiated settlement"; i.e., mutual withdrawal, diplomatic negotiations for a definitive settlement of the dispute, the lifting of sanctions and exclusion zones and the establishment of transitional arrangements in the Falklands under U.N. auspices pending the outcome of diplomatic negotiations.

The British, in an earnest effort toward a peaceful solution, accepted the proposal, suggesting only minor alterations designed to clarify provisions concerning troop withdrawal and the participation of the Falkland Islanders in the transitional administration. Kirkpatrick was convinced that it was a good deal and spent the whole of one evening until 2 a.m. trying to persuade Argentina's representative to the United Nations, Enrique Ros, that Buenos Aires should go along. Unfortunately for all the interested parties, and especially Argentina, the Argentines, on May 18, rejected it. That was the end of the Secretary-General's mediation effort.40 On that same day, HMS Fearless sailed into the waters of the total exclusion zone of the Falklands and the war began in earnest, ending in the humiliating defeat of Argentina.

Following the failure of Haig's efforts at peaceful mediation, the United States, to the dismay of the Argentines, gave some logistic and full political support to Britain. Kirkpatrick, concerned about the damage this was doing to U.S. relations with Latin American states, held several meetings with Argentina's foreign minister and its representative to the United Nations. Even though she cleared these meetings in advance with the President and the State Department, Haig was furious and accused her of being "mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking clearly on this issue" because of her close links with the Latins. She, in turn, criticized him as being incapable of understanding Latin American sensibilities. Her efforts in fact were aimed at bringing an end to the fighting.41

Meanwhile, at the U.N. Security Council, Spain and Portugal proposed on June 4 a draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire. Britain, whose forces had gained the upper hand, was determined to veto it. Kirkpatrick, with an eye toward the Latins, requested State Department authorization to abstain rather than vote against the resolution, which would in any case have been nullified by the British veto. Haig, then at the Versailles Summit, was finally persuaded to authorize an abstention, but his new instructions arrived five minutes too late.42

Certainly Kirkpatrick cannot be faulted for her determined efforts at the United Nations to maintain good relations with the Latins, while not abandoning Britain and principle. Yet one has to wonder whether her pursuit of the ideas advanced in "Dictatorships and Double Standards" might bear some responsibility for Argentina's invasion. Given Carter's policies of coolness toward the Argentine military dictators, they would have been in no doubt about the United States siding with Britain in the event of an Argentine invasion. In 1981 and early 1982, Reagan and Kirkpatrick went all out in showing good will toward the Argentines, who in turn were providing military help to the U.S.-supported government in El Salvador. Would President Galtieri have launched the invasion if he had known in advance that, in a showdown, the United States would side with Britain? One cannot be certain, since Galtieri was having domestic problems and the invasion was to some extent a diversion from those problems-a diversion which failed miserably.

Kirkpatrick was more successful on Puerto Rico. In 1953, the U.N. General Assembly, in Resolution 748, formally recognized that the people of Puerto Rico had exercised their right to self-determination and removed Puerto Rico from the list of non-self-governing territories. In light of elections held since then, parties espousing either statehood in the United States or a continuation of the present commonwealth status have averaged about 95 percent of the vote. In a second referendum on status, 60 percent of those voting opted for commonwealth, 39 percent for statehood and only one percent for independence. Nevertheless, in 1982, Cuba, which argues that independence is the only true expression of self-determination for Puerto Rico, requested the inscription on the General Assembly agenda of an item concerning the status of Puerto Rico. It had done the same in 1971. Again, as in 1971, the Cuban move was rejected by a majority. True, the same result had been achieved before, and Cuba has been unsuccessful for more than a decade. Nevertheless, such victories never come easy; the Kirkpatrick team worked hard to achieve it.


With continued strong support from, and lobbying by, Middle East and ASEAN countries, the Kirkpatrick team has also managed to maintain majority support for resolutions calling for the withdrawal of foreign (Soviet) forces from Afghanistan and Vietnamese forces from Kampuchea. In the Afghan case, the McHenry team in 1980 achieved a vote of 104 in favor, 18 against and 18 abstentions, a very solid vote attesting to the aversion of most nonaligned states to superpower aggression and, incidentally, flying in the face of the Moynihan-Kirkpatrick thesis that there is a nonaligned coalition with the Soviet bloc. That strong majority has held up in subsequent sessions. In November 1982, the vote was 114 in favor, 21 against, and 13 abstentions.

On Namibia (formerly South West Africa), little progress has been made. The five-nation contact group, formed in 1977 on the initiative of Andrew Young, has continued its efforts to reach settlement, but the central U.S. role previously played by Donald McHenry has now been transferred almost wholly to Assistant Secretary Chester Crocker and his colleagues in the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs.

The process has on several occasions appeared to be close to fruition, but South Africa has always found some reason to stall or hold out; the Reagan Administration's approach to South Africa of "constructive engagement" has produced no visible South African concessions.43 The current stumbling block, introduced by the United States, is a condition that Cuban troops be withdrawn from neighboring Angola simultaneously with the withdrawal of South African forces from Namibia.

The most dramatic and potentially far-reaching change of position adopted by the Reagan Administration was on the Law of the Sea Convention, which had been negotiated under U.N. auspices for ten years and on which agreement seemed near in early 1981. The Reagan Administration, with its ideological emphasis on unfettered private enterprise, took a very skeptical view of certain provisions of the Convention, especially those concerning seabed mining and the establishment of an Internation Seabed Authority. More than 150 nations waited for a year while the United States reviewed the provisions of the draft. Then in March 1982 the United States spelled out its objections in dogmatic terms.

Efforts to reach a compromise on the U.S. objections failed. When the convention was voted upon on April 10, 1982, 130 nations were in favor, four against (Israel, Turkey, the United States, Venezuela) and 17 abstained (nine Soviet bloc and Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Thailand, Britain, West Germany).44

Ambassador Koh of Singapore, President of the Conference that negotiated the Convention, was deeply disappointed in the U.S. position. After all, the sharing of seabed mining sites resulted from a compromise suggested in 1976 by then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in a speech at the Pierre Hotel in New York, evidently with clearance from President Ford. As for the required transfer of technology, Koh pointed out that technology was more than just plant and equipment; consequently, mining companies would be far from powerless in dealing with the Authority.45

Just what role Ambassador Kirkpatrick played on this issue is not clear from the public record. One informed account indicates that Washington officials were solely responsible for the formulation and presentation of the U.S. position.46 When I asked her in April 1983 about the U.S. position, she replied: "No comment."

The United States has been even more isolated on disarmament issues at the United Nations. At the 37th session of the General Assembly, for example, it cast the lone negative votes on Resolution 73, stating an urgent need for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, 111-1-35 (abstentions); Resolution 78A, Report on Bilateral Discussions, 114-1-32; Resolution 83, Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space, 138-1-7; and Resolution 98A, calling on the Soviets and the United States to resume bilateral negotiations on the proliferation of chemical weapons, 95-1-46.47 Other NATO powers and the U.S.S.R. and its allies abstained on these resolutions, except for Resolution 83, which they supported. These lone negative votes were further evidence of the Reagan Administration's inclination to confront the nonaligned countries who supported these resolutions.

On budget issues, however, the United States has found allies among the other principal contributors, particularly the Soviet Union. It has voted with the Soviet bloc, on the losing side, on budgetary resolutions concerning the International Civil Service Commission, the U.N. Institute for Training and Research and the U.N. Disaster Relief Organization. In November 1982 the United States, Soviet and British ambassadors made a joint approach to the Secretary-General demanding that he put a lid on the total U.N. budget, which is about $800 million for 1983 (roughly one thousandth the size of the U.S. budget). The United States pays 25 percent of the assessed U.N. budget, the U.S.S.R. (including the Ukrainian and Byelorussion S.S.R.) about half of that. The Soviets and the Americans have long been strange bedfellows in opposing the rapid growth of the U.N. budget, which has increased by 73 percent over the last five years. I recall organizing similar joint démarches with the Soviets, British and French in the late 1960s, when the U.N. budget was about a fourth of its present level, and the coordinated actions did serve as a temporary restraint.

In the present controversy, the American delegations have gone one step beyond the other principal contributors by unilaterally submitting an amendment to each Assembly resolution that called for additional spending. The amendment says that "in no case will financial obligations incurred exceed the level of resources approved" for the original 1983 budget. Michael J. Berlin suggests that "underlying the policy is the feeling by Kirkpatrick and others in the Reagan Administration that the U.N. Secretariat is becoming the enemy." In a December speech in Washington, she charged that diplomats at the United Nations and U.N. bureaucrats themselves are engaged in a Marxist "class war" against the United States and its corporations and are seeking to redistribute the world's wealth to achieve "global socialism."48

Most recently, the link between budgetary and policy concerns has been evident in the case of UNESCO. For several years, the United States has consistently opposed activities by the UNESCO staff and formal proposals that would favor more governmental control of the media, as advocated by the Soviets and certain Third World countries. At the fall 1983 session of the UNESCO General Conference, this U.S. position took the form of advocating a no-growth budget as well as opposing any code or resolution that would restrict the freedom of the media. As in the case of the attempt to withdraw Israel's credentials, the United States has carried its position to the point of an explicit threat by Secretary Shultz to withdraw from the organization or to withhold the U.S. assessment.


Jeane Kirkpatrick has lived up to her own criteria as she expressed them in January 1982: "We take the United Nations very seriously. . .we make certain that when we speak we are serious and credible. . .and pursue a consistent policy over time, letting our actions demonstrate that we are, indeed, serious people who notice and who care and who can distinguish between actions and between countries who behave like friends and supporters of democratic institutions-and those who do not." She also emphasized that these are the policies of President Reagan.49

Certainly she has shown that the United States can be tough, but is that the same as being influential? While influence is always hard to measure, the record of her tenure, along with that of the only other U.S. Permanent Representative who followed a confrontationist policy, Moynihan, suggests the contrary.50 She has cast 14 of the total of 36 vetoes by the United States; Young, in a comparable period, cast only three. For 38 years, the United States had never had to stand alone in voting against a Security Council resolution critical of American action, but it was forced to do so on October 28, 1983; no other member voted against the draft resolution deploring the U.S. invasion of Grenada and calling for the withdrawal of forces. (Contrast this with the British success on the Falkland Islands resolution, even allowing for the fact that the Argentines were the invaders there.)

The failure of the United States to block the election to the Security Council of either Guyana or Nicaragua by the General Assembly in 1981 and 1982, respectively, is in marked contrast with the defeat of Cuba's election effort in 1979. Also noteworthy is the great difficulty the United States experienced in mustering nine votes in the Security Council on September 12, 1983, for a resolution deploring the Soviets' shooting down of a civilian Korean airliner with 269 innocent victims aboard. The unfortunate remark by Ambassador Charles Lichenstein on September 19, 1983, suggesting that, if U.N. delegates did not like New York, the U.S. delegation would cheerfully bid them a fond farewell as they "sailed off into the sunset," may have been good domestic politics, but did not play well among U.N. delegates. Ambassador Kirkpatrick's own statement, in an NBC television interview October 30, that "the U.N. is against us" does not suggest a state of mind that would view the organization as a place where the United States can win friends and influence people.

Her consistency, seriousness and toughness are respected by other delegations. So is the fact that she clearly has the ear and the support of the President. She articulates well, writing or speaking. And, unlike Andrew Young, she has not embarrassed the President by public actions or statements contrary to established policy.

Yet, overall, most U.N. representatives, including those of European allies and other friendly governments, are critical of her performance, for three main reasons:

1. Her ideological approach involves repeated, often unnecessary, confrontations with Third World representatives and makes cooperation difficult even for friendly delegations. Diplomacy normally strives to expand one's circle of friends and narrow the circle of enemies. Her approach tends to do the opposite, though it may provide comfort to beleaguered friends. Her approach also tends to diminish public support for the United Nations because she speaks more often in public as a critic than a supporter.

2. Her speaking style, her lack of diplomatic experience and her relative inaccessibility have also hampered her effectiveness. Delegates criticize her professorial style of lecturing and her bent toward confrontation. They also complain that she has little time to listen to them in New York.

3. Her top staff, especially her close ideological friends in the inner circle of USUN, also lack diplomatic and U.N. experience. They are having to learn the skills of listening, lobbying and negotiating at the United Nations and have not progressed rapidly. In the 1960s, USUN had the experienced staff and network of friends at the United Nations, while the Soviet staff was relatively inexperienced. Now the roles are reversed.

Yet the fundamental issue is not technique or speaking style; it is the approach the United States and other members take toward the United Nations. Should the United Nations be primarily an arena for confrontation or a forum for accommodation? And in which direction should the United States, as a major power, lead? The experience of the Moynihan and Kirkpatrick incumbencies appears to suggest that the strategy of confrontation serves the interests neither of the United States nor the United Nations.

5 Interviews with U.N. ambassadors, a veteran journalist and an experienced scholar on the United Nations.

9 Ibid, p. 104.

10 Time, October 26, 1981, referred to the letter as an undiplomatic "letter bomb."

11 David J. Shapiro, "Third World Moderates Rebound," The Interdependent, March/April 1983.

12 Ibid.

13 The New York Times, October 21, 1983.

14 See Marian Christy, "The Frenetic World of Jeane Kirkpatrick," Boston Globe, July 19, 1981.

15 The Reagan Phenomenon, op. cit., inside dust jacket.

16 Interview with senior official at USUN, April 13, 1983.

17 Dorothy Rabinowitz, "Reagan's 'Heroine' at the U.N.," New York, July 20, 1981, p. 36.

18 Leon Hadar, "Jeane Kirkpatrick: Joining the Jackals?, "Jerusalem Post, June 26, 1981.

19 Interviews with a senior West European diplomat, February 22, 1983, and a former senior USUN official, April 14, 1983. See also The Washington Post, November 25, 1982, p. A-33.

21 Interview with a senior West European diplomat November 19, 1982. Also, interview with a professor who had surveyed more than 80 U.N. Missions, May 6, 1983. See also James Fallows, "The Ordeal of Kenneth Adelman," The Atlantic, June 1983.

23 A series of more than twenty personal interviews conducted from November 1982 to May 1983.

24 Personal interviews, January-May 1983.

25 Time, October 26, 1981.

28 Ibid, p. 215.

29 Interview with Jeane Kirkpatrick, April 7, 1983.

30 Introduction to the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on the Work of the Organization, UN Chronicle, October 1982, p. 2. See also Ernst B. Haas, "Regime decay: conflict management and international organizations, 1945-81," International Organization, Spring 1983, p. 189.

32 The New York Times, October 17, 1982, p. 20. See also S. M. Finger, "How U.S. Can Protect Israel in the U.N.," Newsday, July 15, 1982.

33 The Interdependent, March/April 1983, p. 5.

36 USUN Press Release 23 (83), March 25, 1983.

37 The New York Times, March 31, 1983, p. A23. The reference to the "swaggering dictator" and the Panama Canal is from her article, "Dictatorships and Double Standards," discussed earlier.

39 The Reagan Phenomenon, op. cit., p. 103.

43 See Robert Rotberg, "On Southern Africa," The New York Times, December 10, 1982, op-ed page. Also, S. M. Finger, "Viewpoints," Newsday, April 12, 1981.

45 Interview with Ambassador T. T. B. Koh, New York, January 4, 1983.

48 Michael J. Berlin, "U.N. Budget Growth: Major Donors Shout They Won't Take It Anymore," The Interdependent, January 1983, p. 5.

50 See S. M. Finger, Your "Man" at the U.N,, op. cit., p. 235, for a review of Moynihan's record.



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  • Seymour Maxwell Finger is a Professor of Political Science at the Graduate School and the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, and Director of the Ralph Bunche Institute on the United Nations. A former Foreign Service officer, he served at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations from 1956 to 1971, the last five years as Ambassador and Senior Adviser. This article is based on a chapter in his forthcoming book, Your "Man" at the U.N., 2nd edition, to be published by New York University Press in 1984. Copyright (c) S. M. Finger, 1983.
  • More By Seymour Maxwell Finger