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The Kirkpatrick Mission, by Allan Gerson

- Abstract

Although many now consider the United Nations a crucial instrument for the fashioning of a post-Communist world order, it was not so long ago that American diplomats regarded service at the UN as an assignment in hell. It was bad enough that the United States was routinely denounced as a bastion of racism, colonialism, and imperialism; that Israel was excoriated, often in racialist vocabulary, by the representatives of mass murderers; that the Soviet Union’s misdeeds were practically immune from sanction; that the issue of democracy was effectively shunted aside in favor of one new world order or another to legitimize state control of the media, economic affairs, culture, and on and on in a seemingly endless list.

Bad as all this was, what was equally frustrating was the arrant hypocrisy which pervaded UN affairs, particularly during the period of American global decline from roughly 1968 to 1980. In his account of Jeane Kirkpatrick’s tenure as U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Allan Gerson recounts several instances of delegates loudly assailing America on one day and on the next day privately explaining that they really had not meant what they said. Thus a member of the Egyptian delegation told an amazed Gerson (himself a member of Mrs. Kirkpatrick’s staff) that America should not take at face value his country’s pointed criticisms of the 1983 invasion of Grenada:

About the Author

Arch Puddington is director of research at Freedom House and the author, most recently, of Lane Kirkland: Champion of American Labor.