Statement of Principles
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 fiascoes 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 do 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:
- 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 Kingdom, 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 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.
See the Signatories to our Statement of Principles
See our International Patrons