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The PNAC is dead - long live the Henry Jackson Society? [View All]

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-18-06 09:52 AM
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The PNAC is dead - long live the Henry Jackson Society?
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I happened to look at the Wikipedia entry for the PNAC, and noticed that the final external reference commented that the last update to their website was in December 2005, their email box is full, and their search function doesn't work. Sure enough, this is true (I haven't tried the email). So, 4 months with no apparent activity? Perhaps they've just lost their webmaster; but perhaps they really have gone into hibernation - or have even given up producing anything new at all.

The reason for suspecting the latter was the strange case of the "Committee for a Strong Europe". In October 2005, Pascal Rich, a journalist for Liberation in France, noted this new group, in TPM Cafe, and included confirmation from Gary Schmitt, of the PNAC, of the 'Committee' and its links to the PNAC. Other websites seemed to talk about the PNAC "ceasing its existence last week, to be replaced the next day by the Committee for a Strong Europe", or being "discretely dissolved 2 weeks ago" (though that was in French, so something may have been lost in my translation). See the DU thread about this at the time. The honorary presidents were said to be Jose Maria Aznar (right wing, Iraq-war-supporting ex-Prime Minister of Spain) and John McCain.

But the web presence of the CfaSE seems to be zero since this initial story. Perhaps it never existed as anything more than a dream of Schmitt. However, another group has appeared - the Henry Jackson Society. Although named after the neocons' favourite Democratic senator, it's based in Britain, and the Organising Committee is a bunch of twenty-something history PhD candidates at Cambridge. But they got a large list of moderately well-known British politicians (Conservative and Blairite Labour), journalists (mostly from Murdoch's Times), professors and retired MI6 and NATO personnel to sign their Statement of Principles, and their 'international patrons' are stuffed with PNAC people - James Woolsey, Richard Perle, Joshua Muravchik (despite the 'socialist' tag), Clifford May, William Kristol, Robert Kagan and Bruce P. Jackson. The only 2 who aren't PNACers are General Jack Sheehan (vice-president of war profiteers Bechtel) and Michael McFaul (liberal hawk who wrote a WSJ article advocating regime change in Iran in 2004, quoted approvingly on the PNAC website).

The Henry Jackson Society, while British, is very pro-EU - as long as it's clear who's in charge ("the worlds most powerful democracies, the United States and the European Union under British leadership must shape the world more actively by intervention and example" - on their home page). Compare their principles with those of the ghostly Committee for a Strong Europe that Rich put on the web. The numbered principles are from the Henry Jackson Society, the 'dashed' ones from the CfaSE:

1. Believes that modern liberal democracies set an example to which the rest of the world should aspire.

- We believe that the desire for freedom is universal--unbounded by culture, religion or geography.

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 our carrot capacities, be they diplomatic, economic, cultural or political, but also, when necessary, those sticks of the military domain.

- We believe that all free nations must fight terrorism and adopt policies that challenge states that harbor or support terrorists.

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 NATO.

- We believe both the United States and Europe should invest adequately in their armed forces so as to have strong militaries capable of serving in a wide variety of missions around the world.

5. Stresses the importance of unity between the worlds great democracies, represented by institutions such as NATO, the European Union and the OECD, amongst many others.

- We believe that a strong partnership between the United States and Europe is crucial to the defense and promotion of freedom for all nations.

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.

- We believe that all free nations have an obligation to aid those living in tyranny, and that regimes that subjugate their own people at home will not be reliable friends and allies.

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.

- We believe both Europe and the United States must have strong and free economies that encourage entrepreneurship and individual initiative and responsibility.

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.

A pretty good match, really. The HJS gives a nod to a few limits on capitalism and preservation of civil liberties, which the Committee doesn't mention. While the Henry Jackson Society came into being in March 2005, it appears to have stayed as a Cambridge University society until November, when it got a London launch, courtesy of its MP members. That got coverage in national newspapers. Did the Committee for a Strong Europe fizzle out, and the rebirth of the PNAC get transferred to a convenient University think-tank? Gary Schmitt did talk to them in August. Is the PNAC passing its baton to the dinner tables of Cambridge University and a new generation of article writers pushing for invasions?
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