Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Jeane Kirkpatrick

American Ambassador, Politician and Anticommunist

"Power... is not an end in itself, but is an instrument that must be used toward an end."

"We are making the price of power much too high in this society. I worry that we are making the conditions of public life so tough that nobody except people really obsessed with power will be willing finally to pay that price. That would be tragic from the point of view of public well-being."

"A government is not legitimate merely because it exists."

"Look, I don’t even agree with myself at times."

"Words can destroy. What we call each other ultimately becomes what we think of each other, and it matters."

"All of us confronts limits of body, talent, temperament. But that is not all. We are, all of us, also constrained by our time, our place, our civilization. We are bound by the culture we have in common, that culture which distinguishes us from other people in other times. Cultural constraints condition and limit our choices, shaping our characters with their imperatives."

"History is a better guide than good intention."

"A doctrine of class war seemed to provide a solution to the problem of poverty to people who know nothing about how wealth is created. "

"Cross cultural experience teaches us not simply that people have different beliefs, but that people seek meaning and understand themselves in some sense as members of a cosmos ruled by God."

"Democracy not only requires equality but also an unshakable conviction in the value of each person, who is then equal. "

"I believe that detente was having almost the opposite effect of what was intended. What was intended was to sort of end the contest for power and to stop Soviet expansion, especially by military means and the military build-up, the military contest. "

"I think that there is absolutely no free market in modern industrial states. "

"I conclude that it is a fundamental mistake to think that salvation, justice, or virtue come through merely human institutions. "

"We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace. "

"There is no pure free-market economy. "

"What takes place in the Security Council more closely resembles a mugging than either a political debate or an effort at problem-solving."

"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."

"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."

"The speed with which armies collapse, bureaucracies abdicate, and social structures dissolve once the autocrat is removed frequently surprises American Policy makers."

"I think that it's always appropriate for Americans and for American foreign policy to make clear why we feel that self-government is most compatible with peace, the well-being of people, and human dignity."

"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."