The lazier pessimists observing our political processes often like to claim that nothing changes. Those with a keener eye can notice that they do, but that change takes time. Just as in an argument, the most devastating facts backed up by even the most compelling style, never lead to any interlocutor saying, ‘Sorry – I see now, it is you who is right’, so in politics when facts become accepted, nobody much likes to acknowledge the fact. People rarely say that their opinions have changed, and are even less keen to say that they were, in the recent past, wrong.
Here at the Henry Jackson Society there are a number of facts which we have laboured away at repeatedly for many years now. And while not all of them are popular and not all of them are currently accepted, one of the rewards of having a values-based approach to the world – and holding to it – is that now and then you see a case you have been making get taken up by others and sometimes, just sometimes, even taken up as accepted wisdom.
When we were first calling for a Magnitsky Act to be instituted in Britain, replicating the US Act, to ensure that allies and associates of Vladimir Putin had their activities in Britain curtailed, there were very few others making the case. Today, with facts in Crimea and Ukraine putting the wind behind our argument, we see sanctions against allies of Putin not simply becoming popularly argued for, but actually, in recent weeks, put in place.
So it is with the case of the Muslim Brotherhood. Long before the group managed to ride the wave of post-revolutionary Egypt we had warned about them. Long before the recent second-wave return of their leaders to London we had warned about the first such wave and asked repeatedly how it could be that Britain should act as a refuge for such fascistic totalitarians. Now this week the British Prime Minister has announced a formal government inquiry into the Brotherhood’s activities in the UK. We look forward to helping with that inquiry and will take a very active interest in its findings.
As with domestic terrorism, FGM, the effects of the draw-downs in defence spending and many other issues these are core HJS activities which have been not just taken up by government but swiftly accepted as the norm. It will not always be the case. There will be arguments we make which will be just as hard, if not harder, and slopes which are even steeper than those we have already scaled. But the pleasure of occasional vindication is enough to encourage us in the fact that where there have already been victories there can be – thanks to your support – many more.