Think Tanks

« Profile of Civitas | Main | Profile of the Institute of Economic Affairs »

Profile of the Henry Jackson Society

HJS Key people

The team include the Director Dr Alan Mendoza (who is also a Conservative councillor on Brent Council).

The International Affairs Director Robin Shepherd was previously at Chatham House.

The group's cross-party credentials are reflected in the support of a number of Labour MPs, including Gisela Stuart, as well as Conservative parliamentarians such as Michael Gove MP and Lord Trimble, former First Minister of Northern Ireland.

HJS dislikes the "neo-Conservative" label that it is frequently given, preferring to consider that it embraces a range of opinions in the ideas spectrum with the common denominator of interest in a moral and interventionist foreign policy. Human rights advocates, democracy promoters and security hawks can therefore all be found within its coalition.

Basic philosophy

Henry "Scoop" Jackson was a Democrat Congressman elected as an isolationist in 1940 but who quickly changed his mind and decided that America should join the Second World War. After the war he was a strong champion of human rights and opponent of Communism believing that detente with the Soviet Union was a mistake, and that it ought to be opposed on moral grounds (e.g. that the Soviet Union was an ‘evil empire’) as well as security ones.

The HJS believes in an interventionist foreign policy to promote democracy and human rights around the world. It "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."

HJS argues that "modernisation and democratisation often do not 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."

For example they argue that military intervention to topple Robert Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe would be justified as a last resort, under “Responsibility to Protect” criteria, but that he could probably be brought down without resorting to it, and that such an eventuality should be pursued by the international community. 

They argue that there is no contradiction between a foreign policy that reflects our national interests and one that promotes democracy and human rights, seeing as the major sources of instability in the world are autocratic regimes and that in a globalised world these will ultimately affect British interests.

Recent achievements

Very active in hosting public speaker meetings in Parliament. Speakers have ranged from Richard Perle, Jose Maria Aznar, Boris Nemtsov, Joschka Fischer to General Sir Mike Jackson.

Acts as the secretariat for the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Transatlantic & International Security and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homeland Security.

The HJS is often willing to be outspoken and anti-establishment. For instance it regarded the western response to Russia over the conflict in Georgia as "pretty feeble." It has raised some issues, such as human rights in Saudi Arabia, that western Governments often prefer to ignore.

Part of their task is to demystify foreign policy and to open up debate rather than it being the preserve of secretive elites. They have also started a blog called The Scoop.

Future plans

These include opening an office in Washington DC. Also developing an umbrella group of like minded think tanks from around the world under the banner of the European Convention on Liberal Democracy.

Issues that they will be concentrating on include "Russian expansionism", the threat of a nuclear Iran, genocide prevention policy and NATO’s future prospects.

Approximate budget and staff numbers

The HJS is a charity. The annual budget is £100,000. There are four members of staff.

Contact details


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.