Andreas Jeninga/The Hoya Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick spoke out against critics of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in a speech Saturday in ICC Auditorium.

Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Georgetown professor and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, discussed multilateralism and preemptive strike policies in ICC Auditorium on Saturday. Her speech addressed the U.S. rationale for the recent Iraq war despite resistance in the United Nations.

Kirkpatrick, who supported the war effort, argued many of her points from a historical perspective. She said that the Bush administration’s decision to act preemptively without being directly threatened and without specific U.N. authorization was not unprecedented in U.S. history.

“The United States has never taken the position that any use of force has had to have authorization of the U.N. Security Council,” Kirkpatrick said. President Bill Clinton (SFS ’68) did not have a specific U.N. mandate when he sent troops to Kosovo in 1999, Kirkpatrick said.

Regarding the preemptive strike policy, for which President Bush has received much criticism, Kirkpatrick said that the United States has actually deployed troops many times in the absence of a direct threat: President Wilson desired to help the Allies in World War I; President Truman sought to contain communism in Southeast Asia during the Korean War; President Clinton sent troops to restore democracy in Haiti.

Kirkpatrick also drew from her own personal experiences in government. In 1983, she was serving at her U.N. post when more than 600 American medical students were threatened following a military coup on the small island of Grenada. “We received information that the American students were taken prisoner and being held at gunpoint,” she said.

“This was the instance when there was the tightest security and President Reagan was the most mobilized that I had ever seen him,” she said. Within a couple of weeks, Reagan ordered the invasion of the island with thousands of troops. “Had we gone to the Security Council to seek authorization to rescue the students,” Kirkpatrick said, “they certainly would have been killed.”

Nevertheless, U.N. resolutions have often provided the legal underpinnings for U.S. military action, Kirkpatrick said. President Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox in 1998 because he claimed Iraq was in breach of post-Gulf War disarmament agreements.

Though President Bush did not receive a specific Security Council authorization for the most recent Iraq war, Kirkpatrick said that he too has been able to draw upon past U.N. Resolutions to argue his case, including Resolution 1441 adopted in November of last year, which threatened “serious consequences” if Iraq failed to disarm.

Kirkpatrick said that anybody who has read about the regime of ex-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein knows that he possessed those weapons.

Kirkpatrick, who this past year led the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, criticized Hussein and other leaders, including North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il.

Asked by one audience member about North Korea and its nuclear weapons program, Kirkpatrick said, “North Korea is the only country I can remember in my career as professor of political science to be governed by psychotics. It is very serious to have such people with nuclear weapons.”

Kirkpatrick’s speech was attended by about 50 people. One attendee, Robert Byrne, said, “I think she is a brilliant observer of the international scene with very strong insights into the challenges our nation faces.”

“I generally don’t agree with Jeane Kirkpatrick,” Meredith Janik said. “But I was pleasantly surprised about her comments regarding the world situation currently. Maybe it signifies a general uniformity of American mentality after Sept. 11.”

The speech was sponsored by the Georgetown Liberal Studies Degree Program as part of their Alumni Day program, “The Art of Diplomacy.”

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