Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Profiles in Decency II : The Henry Jackson Society

Future editions of Decentpedia may list the Henry Jackson Society as "A reality TV game show in which first prize is membership of the Bilderberg Group", and in all honesty, the world would make a lot more sense if that was the truth. The Scoopies really don't seem to have understood the fundamental point about Labour Atlanticism. It's not something that you do off your own bat. It's something that you get paid to do. It reminds me of the "home pub enthusiast" scene, which there is a stall in Camden market that serves, where you can buy optics, gravity pumps, branded ashtrays and the like and pretend in the comfort of your own home that you are a service sector employee. The Henry "Scoop" Jackson Society appears to bear more or less precisely this relation to the British American Project or the Council on Foreign Relations, which also publish windy and tendentious essays about global geopolitics, but somehow seemingly to slightly more point.

Or perhaps it's more like the Society of the Future Husbands of Britney Spears, a 2000-vintage website which has obviously rather been overtaken by events, but which was quite big in its day. It provided a home for a bunch of slightly deluded lovelorn American teenagers to moon and spoon over Britney, while making detailed plans about what they would do if they were married to her. And the Scoop Jackson Society lurrrrrves its detailed plans[1]. They've got one for dealing with China, they've got one for Darfur, they've got one for dealing with Russia, they've had at least half a dozen for dealing with Iraq and they've got several aimed at whipping the EU into shape. I daresay they will have a plan for dealing with the subprime housing crisis as soon as British Aerospace invents a missile that can be aimed at Collateralised Debt Obligations.

Their worldview centres around the proposition that the UK is a much more important force in the world than it actually is. Notoriously, they claimed that Britain was "unquestionably the second greatest military power in the world". Which of course is a bit like being the world's second best black golfer, or the second most famous person called Adolf[2], even if it were true. But anyway, the idea is that we need to slightly less than double the amount we spend on the armed forces (and indeed to have a constitutional bill mandating that defence spending be no less than 3% of GDP) and order a hell of a lot of aircraft carriers. Which is odd for a society named after Henry Jackson, since Boeing doesn't make aircraft carriers, but there you go.

The interest of the H'S'JS to a Decentologist, however, is that it is (at least implicitly) one of the few facets of modern Decency to recognise that anything ever happened in world history except World War 2. The blood-curdling opposition of most mainstream Decentists to any mention of Vietnam in the context of Iraq is almost as ubiquitous as their enthusiasm for claiming that "it is 1933 and I am Churchill"[3]. Scoop's own Presidential candidacy, on the other hand, was wrecked by the fact that he was still supporting the Vietnam war in 1976.

And this is an important part of Decency - the determination to repeat all the mistakes of the Cold War, the second time as farce. I hope I don't have to explain why the struggle against global Islamist jihad is obviously not very like the Cold War. But equally, it's a hell of a lot more like the Cold War than it is like World War 2. And the main lesson of the Cold War was that domino theories don't work, overstretched foreign wars don't work and the ritual condemnation and blacklisting of supposedly subversive elements back home, doesn't work[4]. Constantly shouting "America! Fuck Yeah!" and treating it as a political program in the UK did work, a bit, during the Cold War[5], but the new evidence as it comes in is suggesting that it isn't working so well this time round.

And so, the Henry 'Scoop' Jackson Society. Somewhere between the Skibbereen Eagle[6] of international policy think tanks and the Trilateral Commission[7] of the Fresher's Fair.


[1] "Detailed plans" in this sense obviously having the meaning "elaborate fantasies", this meaning being common to usages in the context of both Decent politics and the Future Husbands of Britney Spears.
[2] Harpo Marx, unless AW readers know different.
[3] In fairness, it was actually "Morgoth" from the "Harry's Place" comments section who was daft enough to actually utter this sentence, but it is only a vestigial distaste for being laughed at that stops an awful lot of Decentists from saying something similar.
[4] Scoop Jackson-related hilarity, part whatever. You might think that it was almost fair enough to have been in favour of the internment of Japanese-Americans during the war - I don't think many modern Americans are exactly proud of this episode but there was a war on. However, Henry "Scoop" was not only in favour of internment during the war, but was actually opposed to allowing the Japanese Americans back to their homes after the war on the basis that they shouldn't be allowed in the Pacific Coast states because of their questionable loyalty.
[5] In as much as, we weren't actually nuked by the Russians.
[6] For example, "We do not therefore aspire for Britain to become more engaged with EU defence co-operation in order to isolate and weaken British interests and sovereignty, but rather to rally other EU members states towards British positions and provide the additional military muscle to ensure that Britain and the USA are not forced to act alone in defence of our common values through lack of capability. Indeed, this is the only goal that HJS would support for such an exercise, for we would regard any attempt to use EU defence co-operation for another purpose - and specifically for one not in the British and transatlantic interest - as an illegitimate one."
[7] Actually probably not the Trilateral Commission, since that included Japan and we know Scoop's views on that lot.

Credits: Matthew does a lot of good watching of the H'S'JS although I am too lazy to look up the actual posts to link to them.

21 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

Any chance of adding Decentpedia to the links? It is an indispensible and a scholarly source.

9/04/2007 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous James said...

I keep thinking that if they are going to be chauvinist about Britain's place in the world they should at least do it properly and claim that Britain is unquestionably the most important power.

9/04/2007 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I did Watch tme, and still do to some extent, but unless it's merely August (and August is August after all) they are heading down the Euston route of not much going on, no-one can be bothered, "did we really get Micahel Ancram on board" type thing.

One correction, to show "I've still got it". They said that Britain was "unquestionably the second strongest power", i.e. not just military. I'm not sure if even the H'S'JS believes that anymore, though that only goes to highlight the question "How much 10% growth can make unquestionably seem more questionably".

9/04/2007 11:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on in saying "And the main lesson of the Cold War was that domino theories don't work, overstretched foreign wars don't work and the ritual condemnation and blacklisting of supposedly subversive elements back home, doesn't work" - . It seems Nick Cohen has decided to have a go at this one . Channel Four news had a segment last nite on recent national archives papers showing Special Branch spying on militant Chatham Dockers by hiding in the toilet, and MI5 snooping on George Orwell - two episodes that show useless loopy cold war paranoia. then the presenter said words to the effect that "cold war methods are being considered to battle the war on terror", and they cut to Nick C. in the street rambling on about how fascism, communism and islamism where all the same , needed to be fought etc - it seems Nick was endorsing MI5 's spying on Orwell, not condemning it - and hoping for more of the same

Ann On

9/05/2007 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I'd have thought the main lesson of the Cold War, which you would have thought the Decents would be capable of listening to if they weren't so keen on war, is this: if your system is more sound than the one against which you are pitted, you will very likely prevail in the end.

Provided, of course, you do not alienate your population or everybody else's before this happens.

9/05/2007 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

parenthetically, is anyone else puzzled by the "deafening silence" about the withdrawal from Basra Palace? They could either spin it as "see, we are winning, the Iraqi state is powerful enough to step up" or "the venial Brown is selling out the Iraqis, protest!" or something. But nada. The whole Decent project just seems to be running out of energy; all that is left is to go through the motions about George Galloway being a bastard until Israel hits the news again.

9/05/2007 03:39:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Shawcross in the Spectator the week before last pushed the sellout line, but the decents don't seem to have followed his lead.

9/05/2007 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous rioja kid said...

Well, it's pretty much a military thing and one of the things about decentism generally is a combination of general muscularity with indifference to specific military operations.

To be fair, the HJS try to bridge that to some extent, but they tend to go all the way over into outright fantasies about EU bases in the pacific and such.

9/05/2007 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

there is a new Decentiya out ... we have "Antizionism and Antisemitism", "Anti-Americanism in the world" and a review of Ed Husain, so as you can imagine the straw is flying thick and fast. And also a "Letter from Iraqi Kurdistan", which is pretty hilarious and recalls the laugh lines of the Webbs' tour of Stalinist Russia.

9/05/2007 05:02:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Will it be all right if we leave you to read that lot then? Just give us the lowlights at the weekend or something...

9/05/2007 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

It is an indispensible and a scholarly source.

All lies - I deny everything.

9/05/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous terence said...

a-hah-hah [chuckles - splutters] the Decentpedia is the funniest thing I've read in months

9/06/2007 01:43:00 AM  
Anonymous splinteredsunrise said...

The "Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism" piece is a hilarious bit of mudslinging and is worth a look for its brazen dishonesty alone.

I also note the Ed Husain review is by a press officer for the Community Security Trust. They couldn't have found a pliable Muslim?

And where's Attila?

9/06/2007 09:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a glaring contradiction in the position of the Scoopers: they declare a belief in the universal value of the rule of law but are quite open in their hostility to international law. They were at Chatham House a couple of months ago arguing that the slave trade was abolished because Britain ignored international law so QED Britain shouldn't pay much attention now to international law. (My spies tell me that they were silent when a number of people pointed out that there wasn't any international law in 1807.)

In Everett, Washington State, not much effort is made to hide the fact that Henry Jackson was the "Senator from Boeing", lived in an enormous mansion and had links with the group that became the neo-cons. These facts don't get mentioned much by the Scoopers though.

9/06/2007 09:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

if your system is more sound than the one against which you are pitted, you will very likely prevail in the end.

Maybe they secretly fear that the Caliphate would be more sound. It would explain the hysteria.

9/06/2007 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous rioja kid said...

You do wonder about this: a lot of Crazy Mel's stuff is full of fulsome tributes to islamist discipline and strategic wisdom. There's quite a strong element of jihad envy about, though it seems to affect the hard right more than the decents. After all, the hard right broadly shares the salafist view of Western society.

9/06/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

If you read Arthur Miller's introduction to The Crucible you'll see that he says something similar about the John Birchers and the Soviet Union.

9/06/2007 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Malky Muscular said...

a lot of Crazy Mel's stuff is full of fulsome tributes to islamist discipline and strategic wisdom.

I've said it before in my Rodent guise, but Mad Mel's ouvre could be summed up as "The Islamofascists want to destroy everything I hate about this country".

Subtlety isn't my thing.

9/06/2007 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger Tom Griffin said...

"The Scoopies really don't seem to have understood the fundamental point about Labour Atlanticism. It's not something that you do off your own bat. It's something that you get paid to do."

The manual does allow for exceptions.
Some individuals may not want or need money, preferring instead information that helps them advance their careers. Developing and using an unpaid collaborator requires special skills and flexibility." Roy Godson, Dirty Tricks or Trump Cards, US Covert Action & Counterintelligence. p142

9/09/2007 01:14:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

You're right about the carriers - they won't even fly Boeings, as Lockheed won the contract. Scoop would be spinning in his grave.

9/09/2007 09:35:00 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

"The Scoopies really don't seem to have understood the fundamental point about Labour Atlanticism. It's not something that you do off your own bat. It's something that you get paid to do."

The manual does allow for exceptions. [“]Some individuals may not want or need money, preferring instead information that helps them advance their careers. Developing and using an unpaid collaborator requires special skills and flexibility."


"You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!)Labour Atlanticists.
But, seeing what this lot will do
unbribed, there's no occasion to."


Apologies to Humbert Wolfe

9/10/2007 05:25:00 AM  

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