1998 Freedom Flame/Casey Medal of Honor Award: Jeane Kirkpatrick

jeane-kirkpatrick(Washington, D.C.): At a moment of profound national angst over the domestic implications of President Clinton’s personal and public misconduct, one of the most respected figures in America — Ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick — yesterday issued a moving tribute to leaders of character from the past, and warned of the danger to this country’s worldwide interests if such qualities remain absent in the White House into the future.

The occasion for Dr. Kirkpatrick’s remarks was a luncheon held in her honor by the Center for Security Policy’s William J. Casey Institute. The former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nation’ received the “Casey Medal of Honor” [later renamed the Center’s Freedom Flame award] in the ballroom of the elegant Park Hyatt Hotel in Washington filled with nearly two hundred of her friends and admirers (including, among other distinguished guests the Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY)). This award was conferred in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the Nation, both during her tenure at the UN and throughout a long and distinguished career in academe, as an author, as a syndicated columnist and as a valued participant in myriad presidential, departmental and private sector commissions and advisory boards — including that of the Center for Security Policy.

The following offer a sample of the deeply touching and inspiring thoughts shared by Dr. Kirkpatrick in the course of her informal address:

There were many aspects that account for the strength of the Reagan Administration and the success of it. But the most important of all, I think, was a love of our country, in fact, and an appreciation of our freedom, above all. A sense that our freedom was our most important heritage, our most important possession. It was the secret of our success.

It was a great privilege to work with those men…all of whom were good men, they were men of good character. As President Reagan himself was a man of good character and Ed Meese and, God knows, Bill Casey was a man of good character — as well as great intelligence and dedication, and skill and ability. I think that was an important factor in our success, a more important factor, perhaps, then we thought at the time.

The importance of preserving our traditional national character is the prerequisite, if you will, even to providing for our defense. On our character we must rest our defense. On which then rest our freedom and security….I know, frankly, no one — just no one — who more clearly, fully, completely reflected that character then our good friend, our warm friend, my best friend practically, Bill Casey.

Dr. Kirkpatrick also used the Casey Institute forum to address a matter of substance — one which she, correctly, considers to be of the utmost importance: the need to protect the United States against ballistic missile attack. Contrasting our present posture of utter vulnerability to such a threat with the America homeland’s historic invulnerability to foreign aggression, she observed:

The loss of that invulnerability is the real strategic revolution that has occurred in our times and with which we must cope. Meeting that challenge, which is the loss of our invulnerability, is the most important task that we confront and will continue to confront until we have, in fact, met the challenge and dealt with it. One of the many common causes which has brought the Center…and its [Board of Advisors] together many times, in common cause, is our commitment to provision of an effective, really effective, national missile defense which can end our vulnerability and return us to the security that has been ours all our national life.

The award luncheon began with a welcome by Bernadette Casey Smith, William J. Casey’s daughter, that called to mind the deep mutual respect and personal affection shared by her father and the honoree. A similar portrait of abiding respect and sense of purpose shared by Ambassador Kirkpatrick and the man in whose Cabinet she served so ably — President Ronald Reagan — was painted by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III in his formal introduction of Dr. Kirkpatrick. Mr. Meese, who also worked closely with the Ambassador in his capacity as Counselor and close advisor to President Reagan, was the first recipient of the Casey “Medal of Honor.”

The luncheon concluded with the presentation of the “Casey Medal of Honor” by Mrs. Sophia Casey, CIA Director Casey’s beloved widow.

Casey Institute Symposium on Russia

Many of those who participated in the luncheon then joined in an afternoon-long symposium entitled “Russia: Transformation or More Financial Bailouts?” The stage was set for this exceptionally timely symposium by Hon. Roger W. Robinson, Jr., former Senior Director of International Economic Affairs at the National Security Council under President Reagan and currently President of RWR, Inc.

Mr. Robinson, who holds the Institute’s Casey Chair, provided a review of the important elements of the financial and political drama unfolding in the former Communist state. Mr. Robinson also offered several notable prescriptions for Russian reform (e.g., conditioning further governmental aid flows on a curtailing of Russian military and foreign policy activities threatening to U.S. and Western interests; institutionalizing protections for private property; adopting Western legal and commercial codes; and focusing on the creation of a environment conducive to the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses).

Participants then heard a fascinating address by Dr. Judy Shelton, a widely published and respected economist whose work focuses on international monetary, finance and trade. Dr. Shelton reviewed the impact of the ruble’s devaluation on global currencies and financial flows. She also underscored the failings of government-to-government transfers to encourage real economic reform in Russia and warned that the lack of a viable currency in Russia meant any reforms were essentially building on quick sand.

Next the symposium heard from Dr. Marshall I. Goldman, the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Professor of Russian Economics at Wellesley College and Associate Director to the Davis Center for Russian Studies at Harvard University. Long regarded as one of the United States’ foremost experts on the Russian economy, Dr. Goldman presented a rather bleak assessment of the prospects for economic and political reform. Among Prof. Goldman’s many notable insights were his estimation of the possibility — and potential beneficial effect — of a decentralization of the Russian Federation to the extent that the regions engage in real curbs on the mafia and the building of institutions necessary for genuine democratic pluralism and free market economies.

Mr. Thomas Moore, Director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis International Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, concluded the symposium with an informative address concerning the strategic nexus between finance and national security, in particular focusing on the actual — if unintended — effects of past and future western aid flows to the former Soviet state. Mr. Moore expressed concern about the United States’ apparently continuing unwillingness to recognize the danger inherent in providing U.S. tax dollars to the Russian government as it proceeds, among other things, threatening strategic modernization programs.

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