AEI senior fellow Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who joined the Institute in 1978, died yesterday. As a young political scientist at Georgetown University, Kirkpatrick wrote the first major study of the role of women in modern politics, Political Woman, which was published in 1974. Her work on the McGovern-Fraser Commission, which was formed in the aftermath of the Democratic Party’s tumultuous 1968 convention and changed the way party delegates were chosen, led to Dismantling the Parties: Reflections on Party Reform and Party Decomposition, which AEI published in 1978. Yet it was an essay written for Commentary magazine in 1979, “Dictatorships and Double Standards” (later expanded into a full-length book), that launched her into the political limelight. In the article, Kirkpatrick chronicled the failures of the Carter administration’s foreign policy and argued for a clearer understanding of the American national interest. Her essay matched Ronald Reagan’s instincts and convictions, and when he became president, he appointed her to represent the United States at the United Nations. Ambassador Kirkpatrick was a member of the president’s cabinet and the National Security Council. The United States has lost a great patriot and champion of freedom, and AEI mourns our beloved colleague.

As a young Reagan Republican, I very much admired Jeane Kirkpatrick. She was certainly a staunch anti-communist, although as my political understanding has grown more sophisticated over the years, I developed a few reservations about her stance on women in politics and political parties. Given what we know now, it is difficult to argue that the changes for which Kirkpatrick pressed have been positive in terms of the freedom that she valued so. And yet there can be no question that she was genuinely devoted to the cause of human liberty.

I only met her once, in Washington DC at a party. She was less formidable in person that she appeared in print, but she was very pleasant and her intelligence was obvious to even the most casual observer. I consider it an honor to have met her and those who value freedom would do well to raise a glass to her memory tonight.