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The Henry Jackson Society is a non-partisan society or think tank (with tax-exempt charity status) that aims to promote 'democratic geopolitics'.[1] It is based at Peterhouse, a college of the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. Named after the late Henry M. Jackson, a former Democratic U.S. Senator from Washington State and leading proponent of U.S. Cold War policies, the society advocates a proactive approach to the spread of liberal democracy across the world, including, when necessary, by military intervention, and conducts research into questions related to this goal. The society advocates the use of military power in specific situations: to end ethnic cleansing; to remove oppressive dictators when other means fail; and to prevent the breakdown of the rule of law. Its perspective is fundamentally Atlanticist but it is also pro-European and argues explicitly for European military integration.

Because of this advocacy the society has been called 'neo-conservative' in, for example, The Guardian newspaper.[2] At the society's inaugural meeting, one of the key academic founders, Brendan Simms praised Jackson's legacy, and criticised the "near-demonic hatred" many hold for neoconservatives, and noted that neoconservative ideas "come very much from within the mainstream tradition of U.S. foreign policy."[3] The society, however, disclaims any neoconservative affiliation.[4] The label has been rejected by the society which asserts that it is non-partisan (although the society does have prominent neo-conservative supporters, but also "liberal interventionists").


History and political aims

The Society was founded in March 2005 by academics and students at Cambridge (mostly affiliated with the Centre for International Studies), including Brendan Simms, Alan Mendoza, Marko Attila Hoare, Gideon Mailer, James Rogers, Robin Shepherd and Matthew Jamison. It organises speaker meetings in Cambridge, events in the House of Commons, and hopes to garner backing from across the political spectrum in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe and to use it to increase support for an interventionist foreign policy, which seeks to end suffering and oppression throughout the globe, through military action when necessary.

As of 2006, the society is raising the profile of the Ahwazi Arabs of Iran, who it claims are presently being oppressed by the Iranian regime.

The Society has also been to visit No. 10 Downing Street.[5]

The society has an associated charity, The Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics.[6]

Supporters and influence

It has many high-profile signatories to its statement of principles, including the Members of Parliament Michael Ancram, Michael Gove, Greg Pope, Edward Vaizey, David Willetts, Denis MacShane, Fabian Hamilton, Gisela Stuart, former MPs David Trimble, Jackie Lawrence, as well as Sir Richard Dearlove — former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and presently Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge - and the American economist Irwin Stelzer. Notable patrons include Richard Perle and William Kristol — two of the leading lights in the American neoconservative movement, James Woolsey — former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and Tsakhiagiyn Elbegdorj, former Prime Minister of Mongolia.

The society has the support of several journalists, including Stephen Pollard, Gerard Baker and Oliver Kamm. In addition, signatories Gisela Stuart and Greg Pope are members of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee, which consults on British foreign policy.

The April 2006 statement of geopolitical principles produced by members of the British left and known as the "Euston Manifesto" has significant similarities with the Henry Jackson Society's ideas.

Statement of principles

The Society's statement of principles as first signed by supporters in Cambridge on 11th March 2005 were:[7]

  1. Believes that modern liberal democracies set an example to which the rest of the world should aspire.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Supports the necessary furtherance of European military modernisation and integration under British leadership, preferably within North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  5. Stresses the importance of unity between the world’s great democracies, represented by institutions such as NATO, the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, amongst many others.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

As of 2009, three of the principles have been changed to de-emphasise military methods and to more recognise the legitimacy of international organisations:[8]

2. 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.
3. 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.
6. 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.

Media coverage


  1. ^ Intute: Social Sciences, Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics
  2. ^ David Clark (2005-11-21). "The neoconservative temptation beckoning Britain's bitter liberals". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-03-06.  
  3. ^ Beth R. Alexander,"Crying Wolf" over the neoconservatives, United Press International, Nov. 22, 2004
  4. ^ The Guardian, Don't blame 'Scoop' for the neocons, Wednesday November 23, 2005
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ The Henry Jackson Society: Project for Democratic Geopolitics, Registered Charity no. 1113948 at the Charity Commission
  7. ^ "Statement of Principles". Henry Jackson Society. 11th March 2005. Retrieved 2006-04-30.  
  8. ^ "Statement of Principles". Henry Jackson Society. Retrieved 2009-11-26.  

See also

External links



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