Henry Jackson Society
|Motto||The Project for Democratic Geopolitics|
The Henry Jackson Society is a British think tank. The think tank has been described as neoconservative although the society has never used such terms to describe itself. It is named after the American politician Henry M. Jackson, the late Democratic Senator and anticommunist defence hawk.
Originating within the University of Cambridge, the organisation is now based in London. In April 2011 the entire staff of another London think-tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion (which has since been dissolved), joined the Henry Jackson Society.
History and political aims
The society was founded in March 2005 by academics and students at Cambridge (many of whom were affiliated with the Centre for International Studies), including Brendan Simms, Alan Mendoza, Gideon Mailer, James Rogers and Matthew Jamison. It organizes meetings with speakers in the House of Commons. The society advocates an interventionist foreign-policy that promotes human rights and reduces suffering, by both non-military and military methods, when appropriate.
The organization is a registered charity, The Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics and earns financial backing from private donations and grant-making organisations which support its work. The income of the society increased significantly from 2009 to 2013, from £98,000 to £1.3 million per year.
In 2009 the society became the secretariat of two all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs), for Transatlantic and International Security, chaired by Gisela Stuart, and for Homeland Security, chaired by Bernard Jenkin. A transparency requirement upon non-profit organisations acting as secretariat at that time was that they must reveal, on request, any corporate donors who gave £5,000 or more to the organisation over the past year or cease acting as a secretariat organisation. In 2014, following a query, the society refused to disclose this information and resigned its position as secretariat of the APPGs concerned in order to comply with the Rules. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Hudson, upheld a complaint against these APPGs on the grounds data had not been provided, but noted the society had already resigned its position and that the consequence of this non-provision therefore "appears to have taken effect" as the Rules intended. The case was therefore closed with no further action taken and the APPGs themselves dissolved with the dissolution of Parliament in March 2015. The APPG Rules were subsequently changed in March 2015 so that only those non-profit organisations providing services to APPGs of more than £12,500 in value needed to declare their corporate donors.
Statement of principles
The Henry Jackson Society:
- Believes that modern liberal democracies set an example to which the rest of the world should aspire.
- Supports a ‘forward strategy’ – involving diplomatic, economic, cultural, and/or political means—to assist those countries that are not yet liberal and democratic to become so.
- Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach, that can protect our homelands from strategic threats, forestall terrorist attacks, and prevent genocide or massive ethnic cleansing.
- Supports the necessary furtherance of European military modernisation and integration under British leadership, preferably within NATO.
- Stresses the importance of unity between the world’s great democracies, represented by institutions such as NATO, the European Union and the OECD, amongst many others.
- Believes that only modern liberal democratic states are truly legitimate, and that the political or human rights pronouncements of any international or regional organisation which admits undemocratic states lack the legitimacy to which they would be entitled if all their members were democracies.
- Gives two cheers for capitalism. There are limits to the market, which needs to serve the Democratic Community and should be reconciled to the environment.
- Accepts that we have to set priorities and that sometimes we have to compromise, but insists that we should never lose sight of our fundamental values. This means that alliances with repressive regimes can only be temporary. It also means a strong commitment to individual and civil liberties in democratic states, even and especially when we are under attack.
The society's statement of principles have been changed from those first signed by supporters in Cambridge on 11 March 2005, to de-emphasise military methods and to more recognise the legitimacy of international organisations. The original versions were:
- Supports a ‘forward strategy’ to assist those countries that are not yet liberal and democratic to become so. This would involve the full spectrum of ‘carrot’ capacities, be they diplomatic, economic, cultural or political, but also, when necessary, those ‘sticks’ of the military domain.
- Supports the maintenance of a strong military, by the United States, the countries of the European Union and other democratic powers, armed with expeditionary capabilities with a global reach.
- Believes that only modern liberal democratic states are truly legitimate, and that any international organisation which admits undemocratic states on an equal basis is fundamentally flawed.
The initial signatories of the statement of principles included:
- Members of Parliament Michael Ancram, Michael Gove, Edward Vaizey, David Willetts, Denis MacShane, Fabian Hamilton, Gisela Stuart,
- former MPs David Trimble, Jackie Lawrence, Greg Pope,
- former soldier Tim Collins,
- Sir Richard Dearlove — former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and presently Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge - and the American economist Irwin Stelzer.
- Clark, David (24 November 2005). "The neoconservative temptation beckoning Britain's bitter liberals". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- Taylor, Ros (22 November 2005). "Inside the hawks' nest". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
- Critchlow, Donald T. (2011). "Rethinking American Conservatism: Toward a New Narrative". The Journal of American History.
- Isaby, Jonathan. "Douglas Murray and staff from the Centre for Social Cohesion join the Henry Jackson Society". Conservative Home. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "The Henry Jackson Society Is Now Launched!". Henry Jackson Society. 11 March 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-04-30.
- The Henry Jackson Society Project for Democratic Geopolitics, Registered Charity no. 1113948 at the Charity Commission
- Randeep Ramesh (30 December 2014). "Rightwing thinktank pulls funds for Commons groups after disclosure row". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- The Transatlantic and International Security APG: Report (PDF). Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (Report) (UK Parliament). 8 December 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- The Homeland Security APG: Report (PDF). Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (Report) (UK Parliament). 8 December 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
- Guide to the Rules on APGs (PDF) (Report). UK Parliament. March 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
- "Statement of Principles". Henry Jackson Society. Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "Statement of Principles". Henry Jackson Society. 11 March 2005. Archived from the original on 2006-04-30. Retrieved 2006-04-30.
- "International Patrons of The Henry Jackson Society". Henry Jackson Society. Archived from the original on 2006-04-30.