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The pursuit of a robust foreign policy was one of Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson’s most central concerns. This was to be based on clear universal principles such as the global promotion of the rule of law, liberal democracy, civil rights, environmental responsibility and the market economy. The western policies of strength and human rights, which later hastened the collapse of the Soviet dictatorship, owed much to Jackson’s example. The fundamental and enduring values of the modern democratic world eventually prevailed.
Yet perhaps we were too complacent during the immediate post-Cold War period. New threats to the very essence of liberal democracies challenged our resolve. Our failures in the former Yugoslavia (especially Bosnia) were more than just moral. Through their impact on the credibility of our international institutions, such as NATO and the EU, they had a profound effect on the national interests of western powers. These fiascos showed that we had to engage, robustly and sometimes preventatively. The early interventions in Kosovo and Sierra Leone, although imperfect, provide an appropriate model for future action. But modernisation and democratisation often does not require a military solution. For example, the European Union has been instrumental in expanding its democratic ‘Grand Area’ on the continent since the fall of the Iron Curtain. So has NATO, through the process of eastern enlargement, and various initiatives engaging the Soviet successor states.
We believe, therefore, that Henry Jackson’s legacy is as relevant today as his policies were during the Cold War; indeed, perhaps it is even more important than at any time previously. Therefore, the Henry Jackson Society:
The Henry Jackson Society is dedicated to researching and debating these issues. We do not represent any specific political party or persuasion, but provide a forum for those who agree with these simple guiding principles, or who wish to learn more about them.