Henry Jackson Society
|Motto||Democracy. Freedom. Human Rights|
|Formation||11 March 2005|
|Type||Foreign policy, defence policy, counter-terrorism|
|Headquarters||Millbank Tower, London|
|Dr Alan Mendoza|
The Henry Jackson Society is a neoconservative British foreign policy think tank. It has been described as right-wing, but positions itself as cross-partisan, with support from some left-leaning politicians. The former think tank Centre for Social Cohesion has been a part of HJS since 2011. It is named after the American politician Henry M. Jackson, the late Democratic Senator, civil rights advocate, and anticommunist liberal hawk.
History and political aims
The society was founded on 11 March 2005 by academics and students at Cambridge, including Brendan Simms, Alan Mendoza, Gideon Mailer, James Rogers and Matthew Jamison. It organizes meetings with speakers in the House of Commons. The society claims that it advocates an interventionist foreign-policy that promotes human rights and reduces suffering, by both non-military and military methods, when appropriate.
After 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.
The organization is a registered charity in England and Wales 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 2014, from £98,000 to £1.6 million per year.
In 2017 Hannah Stuart, one of the society's Research Fellows, released Islamist Terrorism: Analysis of Offences and Attacks in the UK (1998–2015), which profiled every individual convicted under terrorism legislation in the UK between those dates with an Islamist connection.
Statement of principles
Statement of its principles, according to the Henry Jackson Society itself:
- 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.
Structure and projects
The Society has produced a breadth of research reports and papers. These have mostly focused on Islamist extremist activity in the UK, crackdowns on human rights and democracy elsewhere, and various facets of foreign policy and defence. Its current workstreams include:
- Asia Studies Centre. This Centre seeks to provide "an in-depth understanding of the structural shifts, regional complexities and historic tensions that exist alongside the tremendous economic and social growth that traditionally characterise the 'rise of Asia'." Publications include a paper on the possible outcomes of the negotiations with North Korea, and the need to safeguard critical national infrastructure in the West from vulnerabilities which may be built in by China.
- Global Britain Programme. Focuses on "the need for an open, confident and expansive British geostrategic policy in the twenty-first century – drawing on the United Kingdom’s unique strengths not only as an advocate for liberalism and national democracy, but also as a custodian of both the European and international orders." This centre has published papers on what the European Union 'owes' the United Kingdom, as well as advocated for increased military spending by NATO members.
- Russia & Eurasia Studies Centre. Researches domestic and foreign policy issues in Russia and the former Soviet states. In 2018 the Conservative MP Bob Seely published a paper through this Centre which sought to define 'Contemporary Russian Conflict', and in which he accused the government of Vladimir Putin of pursuing KGB-style tactics.
- Centre for the New Middle East. Established following the Arab Spring, the Society describes this Centre as "dedicated to monitoring political, ideological, and military and security developments across the Middle East and providing informed assessments of their wide-ranging implications". The Centre has released reports highly critical of Iran.
- Centre on Radicalisation & Terrorism. Focuses on the threat to the United Kingdom and elsewhere by Islamist terrorism. Reports have ranged from analyses of the UK charitable sector to the way in which criminals utilise the darknet.
- Student Rights. Created in 2009 "as a reaction to increasing political extremism and marginalisation of vulnerable students on campus". This project has tracked what it describes as "extreme" speakers on British university campuses.
In September 2018, the Society announced the creation of a new Centre for Social and Political Risk. This Centre will "identify, diagnose and propose solutions to threats to governance in liberal Western democracies", focusing on social cohesion and integration; freedom of speech and political correctness; demographic change; and other issues.
The think tank has been described by the media as having right-wing and neoconservative leanings, though it positions itself as non-partisan. In 2014, Nafeez Ahmed, an executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, said that the Henry Jackson Society courts corporate, political power to advance a distinctly illiberal oil and gas agenda in the Middle East.
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.
In July 2014 the Henry Jackson Society got sued by Lady de Rothschild over funds of a "caring capitalism" summit. Lady de Rothschild claims that she has financed the summit and that HJS, and its executive director Alan Mendoza are holding £137,000 of “surplus funds” from the conference that should be returned to the couple’s investment company EL Rothschild. 
Think tank discussions on the Middle East and Islam have led some media organisations to criticise a perceived anti-Muslim agenda. Marko Attila Hoare, a former senior member, cited related reasons for leaving the think tank and Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy was urged, in 2015, to sever his links with the society.
According to the report published in 2015, "a right-wing politics is apparent not only in the ideas that the Henry Jackson Society promotes, but also emerges distinctly on examination of its funders.".
In 2017, the Henry Jackson Society was accused of running an anti-China propaganda campaign after the Japanese embassy gave them a monthly fee of 10,000 pounds. The campaign was said to be aimed at planting Japan's concerns about China in British newspapers.
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 formerly Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge – and the American economist Irwin Stelzer.
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- Paul Dixon (2013). Timothy J. White, ed. "The Victory and Defeat of the IRA? Neoconservative Interpretations of the Northern Ireland Peace Process" in Lessons from the Northern Ireland Peace Process. University of Wisconsin Press. p. 119.
"the founding members of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society (2005), which takes a hawkish view on military intervention...
- Tom Mills & David Miller, "Religion, Radicalization, and the Causes of Terrorism" in The Cambridge Companion to Religion and Terrorism (ed. James R. Lewis: Cambridge University Press, 2017), p. 61: "the Henry Jackson Society, the United Kingdom's foremost neoconservative think tank..."
- Matthew Goodwin & Caitlin Milazzo (2015). UKIP: Inside the Campaign to Redraw the Map of British Politics. Oxford University Press. p. 175.
the right-wing Henry Jackson SocietyCS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
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- "India: Security Challenges and National Responses". Henry Jackson Society. 2015-11-12. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
- "Close Encounters: Russian Military Intrusions into UK Air- and Sea Space Since 2005". Henry Jackson Society. 2015-10-12. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
- "Fighting Corruption with Con Tricks: Romania's Assault on the Rule of Law". Henry Jackson Society. 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
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- "Safeguarding Our Systems: Managing Chinese Investment into the UK's Digital and Critical National Infrastructure - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Global Britain Programme - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "What the European Union owes the United Kingdom - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "After the NATO Summit: Towards the 'Normalisation' of British Military Spending? - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "A Definition of Contemporary Russian Conflict: How Does the Kremlin Wage War? - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Centre for the New Middle East - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Going Ballistic: Responding to Iranian Missile Advances - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Beyond Compliance: Iran and the JCPOA - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: How Islamist Extremists Exploit the UK Charitable Sector - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Terror in The Dark: How Terrorists use Encryption, the Darknet and Cryptocurrencies - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Student Rights - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "Extreme Speakers and Events in the 2016-17 Academic Year - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
- "HJS welcomes Sophia Gaston and launches Centre for Social and Political Risk - Henry Jackson Society". henryjacksonsociety.org. Retrieved 2018-09-25.
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- Connelly, Tony (29 January 2017). "British think tank funded by Japan pushing anti-China campaign into mainstream UK media". The Drum.
- "International Patrons of The Henry Jackson Society". Henry Jackson Society. Archived from the original on 30 April 2006.