Q&A: JEANE KIRKPATRICK

Taking the UN to task

August 27 1984
Q&A: JEANE KIRKPATRICK

Taking the UN to task

August 27 1984

Taking the UN to task

Q&A: JEANE KIRKPATRICK

Jeane Kirkpatrick, 57, the United States’ outspoken ambassador to the United Nations, told President Ronald Reagan in June that she will not serve a second term. While at the UN Kirkpatrick has drawn criticism for being one of the leading advocates of the Reagan administration ’s controversial Central American policy and for her belief that rightwing, “moderately repressive” dictatorships are preferable to Marxist regimes. Maclean’s correspondent Gregory Wirick talked with Kirkpatrick at her UN office in New York.

Maclean’s: Have you seen any improvements at the United Nations since you arrived, in 1981?

Kirkpatrick: There have been some changes, some of which could be counted as improvements. In 1979-1980 the percentage of decisions taken by consensus in the Security Council was only slightly more than 40 per cent. In 1983 that number was well over 70 per cent. In addition, one could even say that the effects of superpower conflict on the Security Council have been more successfully contained. Now, much less of the council’s time is consumed by ritualized denunciations than was the case three years ago. Then, more than half the time was spent on various kinds of denunciations against Israel. That kind of rhetoric rendered the conflict more bitter, more divisive, more difficult to solve. As well, there is now a bit less

reflexive involvement by way of bloc membership.

Maclean’s: You have supported many of the initiatives of Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar. Yet during his two-year tenure he has apparently done very little of consequence.

Kirkpatrick: There has been a good deal less negative activity. In the effort to achieve peace he is confronted, as the Security Council is confronted, with a lot of conflicts which seem to be more intractable than anybody wishes they were, in part because they are based on the very deeply held ambitions of nations.

Maclean’s: How do you see future rela-

tions between the United States and Nicaragua?

Kirkpatrick: I think it is appropriate that we have always had a two-, threeor four-track policy. I am personally a great believer in multiple initiatives to establish good relations with the Nicaraguan government on the grounds of mutual support and mutual respect. We have tried a lot of different things. Our goals have been absolutely consistent and unchanged, and I think they are consistent with the goals of the previous administration. They are, first, to persuade Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to cease the destabilization of its neighbors and, second, to cease the repression of its own people and provide the kind of democratic institutions that the Sandinistas promised in 1979 after they overthrew the government of Gen. Anastasio Somoza. I never had any role in the establishment of the ‘contras,’ nor have I ever known anything much about the plans for the contras. I support the contras—mostly disaffected Nicaraguans, Indians and former opponents of Somoza who feel betrayed by the Marxist-Leninist course of the Sandinista revolution —but I have never had any policy role in relation to them. Maclean’s: Have you been more optimistic about El Salvador 's future since Jose Napoleon Duarte became president in June ?

Kirkpatrick: I think things are going very well. I have a very high regard for President Duarte, whom I have known since the beginning of 1979 and whom I regard as a democrat with a small ‘d.’ He is a man of conviction and ability who, now that he is the elected president, can provide the kind of strong leadership that has been fundamentally lacking. Maclean’s: Walter Móndale has said that the bipartisan consensus that the Kissinger commission on Central America sought has not materialized. If Mondale wins the election, what changes would he make to the Central American policy of the United States?

Kirkpatrick: One of Mondale’s principal supporters, Lane Kirkland, the head of the AFL-CIO labor organization, was a very active member of the Kissinger commission and he fully subscribed to all of its recommendations. Robert Strauss, a former chairman of the Democratic party, who was another active supporter of Mondale, was also a member of the commission, as was Henry Cisneros, the mayor of San Antonio, Tex., whom Mondale seriously considered for his vice-presidential nominee. So you must take those facts into account when you think of the bipartisan commission and Mondale.

Maclean’s: So a Mondale administration might carry on with the Reagan administration's Central American policies? Kirkpatrick: I did not say that. We will wait and see.

Maclean’s: Several senior Reagan administration oficiáis were reportedly contemptuous of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau 's peace initiatives. Was that the prevailing attitude within the administration and did you share it? Kirkpatrick: I never heard anyone comment on it, frankly. That is not a diplomatic answer; that is the truth. I was not present at discussions on it and I do not know.

Maclean’s: What are your plans now ? Kirkpatrick: I am not prepared to comment about possibilities except to say that I have always enjoyed the academic life and my relationship with Washington’s Georgetown University, where I hold a chair. A return there would be a genuine pleasure.^