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The United States is not in a time of decline and needs to show it, Jeane Kirkpatrick said Saturday.

"I believe that the American society, economy and government are strong and healthy," the former National Security Council member told about 1,500 people gathered at the Huntsman Center for the American Values Lecture Series, sponsored by the Cannon for Senate Committee."But they can be stronger. We need to show the secret of our success."

And contrary to popular belief, Kirkpatrick said, money is not success.

"Success means law and freedom. If people want the benefits of freedom, they need to express themselves in the economic sphere that is always under the law," she explained. "Freedom hangs together - free societies, free government and free economy all belong together."

But the success of freedom still rests with the people.

"We need to honor traditional values and virtues. We need to spend more time with our families and serve our communities."

One of the best ways to do this, Kirkpatrick said, is to "work hard but pay attention to the other guys. America is in no position to sit and relax in the fruit of our victory of the Cold War."

Comparing the Cold War to World War II, Kirkpatrick said, "Even though we won both, we developed more competition in the free world. There are a lot of people looking out for their own interest, and we must be alert like the other nations are. Times and systems are changing. The whole structure of the world depended on the Cold War, and now it's gone."

This is why the former Soviet Union is having such a hard time in the transition, Kirkpatrick said.

"Never in modern history has there been a system liquidated so quickly and peacefully like the Soviet Union," she said. "It just collapsed. And the other communist European countries - Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Austria - followed soon after."

The failure of socialism was so complete that people realized goals couldn't be reached without changing the system, Kirkpatrick said.

"As conditions got worse, people got the chance to speak out for democracy, but they didn't know how to work it. The free market was put into hands of those who didn't understand it. This is why the Soviets are struggling."

America understands capitalism and needs to show it, Kirkpatrick said. And while America works hard at its economical growth, it needs to be aware of the damages the nation can suffer if defense is overlooked.

"Military power is still important. As long as there are Saddam Husseins and Moammar Khadafys in the world, we need it," Kirkpatrick said.

Dinosaurs, said Kirkpatrick, "were big and strong, but now they are all gone. They couldn't adapt. America is No. 1 in military around the world, and can be No. 1 in economy, but we need to be sensitive and adapt in order for us to be successful."

Kirkpatrick has published several books and articles and writes a syndicated column on world affairs. She is currently a Leavey Professor at Georgetown University.