Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Oliver Kamm has a nice across-the-pond tribute to an American politician whose world-view was out of step with his times, but whose ideas seem more timely today than ever.

Senator Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson was the best President America never had. He twice sought the Democratic presidential nomination, in 1972 and 1976, but proved unacceptable to his party owing to his views on national security.

After visiting Buchenwald shortly after its liberation, Jackson became an advocate for an interventionist foreign policy to challenge totalitarianism. But far from being a stereotypical proponent of state power, he was a disinterested advocate of human rights, believing that the spread of liberty was the key to Western security. Against the realpolitik of Henry Kissinger, he carried a Congressional amendment tying trade concessions to the Soviet Union to freedom of emigration. He opposed aiding apartheid South African-backed rebels in Angola. On economics, he was a New Dealer, urging what now appears a remarkable degree of state intervention. He was an early conservationist, and a supporter of civil rights. Personally, he was a man of unostentatious philanthropy. Politically, he exemplified the belief that strong defence was a bipartisan cause as well as a mainstay of liberal principle.