Project Camelot and Its Aftermath
Like so many other developments in postwar psychology, Project Camelot had deep roots in World War II. During that global emergency, psychological experts gained, for the first time, a significant and growing client base among high-level policy-makers, generous financial support, and rich theoretical, methodological, and organizational experience. In return, they studied the enemy mind, designed "psyops," and predicted likely responses to various policy alternatives among civilian and military populations. In the fifteen years after 1945, psychology proceeded rapidly along the path charted by the World War II experience. The persistence of war—old-fashioned and hot in the case of Korea, new-fashioned and cold in the case of U.S.-Soviet hostilities in the Third World—sustained psychology's momentum and blessed its future. As chapter 5 illustrated, support for applied psychological research within the new bureaucracies of the national security. state grew dramatically between 1945 and 1960. For their part, psychological experts promoted as inseparable the goals of national security and scientific advance and developed unique analyses of development and revolution in the emerging states of the Third World.
In all of these areas, experts were care fill to maximize the practical military utility of their theoretical and research pursuits. If their functional policy orientation was less visible to the public at large than the testing or clinical work that more and more psychologists were doing
during these years, it was nevertheless far more important in establishing psychology's political credentials and guaranteeing that behavioral experts would be warmly welcomed in every federal agency charged with Cold War foreign and military policy. The successful career of Cold War psychology linked psychologists' desire to serve their society even more firmly to stability-minded policy elites than had World War II and eliminated from serious consideration the possibility that work for nongovernmental organizations might be an appropriate expression of professional and social responsibility.
The story of Project Camelot and its aftermath illustrates the continuation of all of these important historical themes well into the 1960s. As a large-scale effort dedicated to translating psychological and behavioral expertise directly into the language of foreign policy and military action, Camelot shows just how far psychological experts had come since the formative years of World War II. They had come far enough so that even a major international scandal, which is what Camelot became, did not undermine their progress in the realm of public policy. Nor did it prompt severe critics like Ralph Beals (an anthropologist who conducted one of the most thorough investigations of Camelot) to reassess the fundamental loyalty to the state that was an axiom of the World War II worldview: "Social scientists have a responsibility to government even if they do not agree with government practices."
Project Camelot Described
Project Camelot was initiated in 1963 by planners in the Army Office of Research and Development who were concerned about combating Soviet-inspired "wars of national liberation" in countries such as Cuba, Yemen, and the Belgian Congo. They were prepared to believe what the experts had been saying since 1945: behavioral expertise had a very important, perhaps the most important, contribution to make to Cold War victory over communism. Their goal—nothing less than the prediction and control of the social and psychological preconditions of Third World revolution—reflected the most lavish ambitions of psychological experts. In the words of its architects, "Project CAMELOT is a study whose objective is to determine the feasibility of developing a general social systems model which would make it possible to
predict and influence politically significant aspects of social change in the developing nations of the world." In spite of the code name (chosen to "connote the right sorts of things ... the development of a stable society with domestic tranquility and peace and justice for all") and the ill-fated effort to disguise its military sponsorship in Chile (a lie which led to the project's exposure), Camelot was not officially classified.
Camelot's mandate to "predict and influence" the process of Third World development marked it as a product of the World War II world-view. Additionally, it embodied the trend toward counterinsurgency and special operations that was so firmly identified with the Kennedy administration and its pledge to undermine the Soviet Union's support for liberation movements around the world, which Khrushchev had announced as a doctrine of Soviet policy in his famous 1960 speech "For New Victories of the World Communist Movement."
The project was funded through the Special Operations Research Organization (SORO), one of the many campus-based contract research organizations that appeared after 1945 to service the Defense Department's scientific research effort. A nonprofit organization founded in 1956, SORO existed for the purpose of conducting "non-material research in support of the Department of the Army's missions in such fields as counterinsurgency, unconventional warfare, psychological operations, and military assistance." SORO was so loosely affiliated with the American University that some critics retrospectively dismissed its campus setting as clever camouflage. Its director, Theodore Vallance, had been a psychological researcher during World War II, when he was an army lieutenant in charge of a field laboratory that studied B-29 gunsights and gunners at Laredo Army Air Field, in Texas.
By the early 1960s Vallance was predicting a big role for "paramilitary" psychology in the "cultural engineering" of emerging Third World states, a logical outgrowth of the military's "trend away from emphasis on human components for hardware systems toward emphasis on human components of social systems." Vallance was a staunch partisan of a politically neutral military psychology, very much like Charles Bray's "technology of human behavior." He was careful to describe Camelot as "an objective, nonnormative study concerned with what is or might be and not with what ought to be ." In addition to Camelot, SORO's work included providing the army with dozens of country-specific handbooks on psychological operations, case studies of South-
east Asia focusing on the exploitation of psychological vulnerabilities, and a comprehensive data bank called the Counter-Insurgency Information Analysis Center.
Camelot's projected research plan bore all the telltale traces of the World War II-era conception of an ambitious and integrated behavioral science. Psychology, cultural anthropology, and sociology were all slated to make important contributions to the final goal of the project: a model of a social system experiencing internal war accurate enough to be predictive, and therefore useful, to military policy-makers. To reach that goal, Camelot's designers anticipated moving ahead in several phases. Phase one consisted of reviewing the existing data on internal war, a largely theoretical challenge already engaging the talents of many mainstream behavioral scientists. Phase two would produce twenty-one case studies of post-World War II insurgencies and five contemporary field studies with the explicit goal of developing predictive indicators. Phase three would bring the work of the first two phases to bear on a single in-depth analysis of an undetermined country. Phase four would validate the findings of phase three, and the project as a whole, by applying the model to yet another national case.
The project's focus was Latin America, and Rex Hopper, a Brooklyn College sociologist and Latin America expert, was chosen as Camelot's director. Countries in Asia and Africa, however, were also found on Camelot's list of foreign areas in need of study. Vietnam, for example, was a clear target for research and the project exploded into public view at precisely the moment when U.S. involvement in Vietnam escalated: mid-1965. "There is a general consensus that the problem [of Third World revolution] is intimately related to the social structure, culture, and behavioral patterns in the countries involved," army research and development chief Lt. Gen. W. W. Dick informed Congress. "Vietnam illustrates the problem very clearly." It was also a bare two months after marines had landed in the Dominican Republic, intervening to prevent a purported Communist takeover.
Had it come to fruition, Camelot would have been the largest, and certainly the most generously funded, behavioral research project in U.S. history. With a $4-$6 million contract over a period of three years, it was considered a veritable Manhattan Project for the behavioral sciences, at least by many of the intellectuals whose services were in heavy, demand. Prominent behavioral scientists, including sociologists Jessie Bernard, Lewis Coser, and Neil Smelser, were among the project's con-
sultants, and the National Academy of Sciences agreed to provide Camelot with an advisory committee.
Project Camelot Exposed
The project backfired. University of Pittsburgh anthropologist and Camelot consultant Hugo Nutini tried to promote the plan among Chilean scholars by lying to them about its fiscal sponsors; he told them it was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). But a concerned Norwegian sociologist, Johan Galtung, had already leaked preliminary versions of Camelot's research design, and the crucial fact of its military sponsorship, to Chilean colleagues. When they heard about it, outraged left-wing journalists in Chile decried the plan as an ominous indication that U.S. policy was shifting its sights from bananas to behavior and predicted that social science research would replace dollars as the leading edge of U.S. diplomacy.
Even though Chile had not been among those countries mentioned by Camelot's planners, the project was publicly denounced in a special session of the Chilean Senate, where politicians called it "a plan of Yankee espionage" masquerading as science. Protests were lodged in Washington by the incensed U.S. ambassador to Chile, Ralph Dungan, who had never been informed about Camelot's existence. Finally, the whole project was canceled by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on 8 July 1965 because of all the unfavorable publicity. A subsequent memo from President Johnson, dated 2 August 1965, ordered that all future foreign area research be cleared by a new review agency, the Foreign Affairs Research Council, located in the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. (This adjustment in the bureaucratic location of final decisions apparently had little short- or long-term effect on the nature or funding of overseas research for government agencies, but was intended to calm fears that civilian authorities had lost their grip on the direction of the U.S. military.)
On the very day Camelot was canceled, the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs convened hearings intended to get to the bottom of the scandal. The testimony of army and SORO bureaucrats made it clear that they saw Camelot as a logical continuation of behavioral experts'
role in World War II, Korea, and a wide spectrum of Cold War agencies, including the OSS and the CIA. They reiterated that, as far as they were concerned, "the U.S. Army has an important mission in the positive and constructive aspect of nation building as well as a responsibility, to assist friendly governments in dealing with active insurgency problems." Obviously, they had absorbed the mainstream social-scientific view that militaries were the leading edge of the modernization process.
Military planners readily pinned the blame for Camelot's cancellation on either Communist distortions or bureaucratic rivalries between the Department of Defense and the Department of State (DOS). While they realized that Camelot-like projects would have to be handled more discreetly in the future, they were also somewhat surprised by all the fuss. In the end, Camelot could hardly have been as consequential to its military funders, who had very deep pockets, as it was to the behavioral scientists who saw it as either the crowning achievement or failure of their careers. Camelot's fiscal sponsors had plenty of money and behavioral science was a relative bargain. Even a multimillion-dollar project, such as Camelot, was described by its military sponsors as a "feasibility study." The scandal, in any case, did not put even a tiny dent in levels of DOD funding.
Dante Fascell (D-Fla.), chair of the investigating subcommittee, was typical of Camelot's congressional critics. For him, the episode proved that DOS was being bypassed on key foreign policy decisions and DOD was all too willing to jeopardize foreign alliances in sensitive areas of the world. Fascell accused the DOD of inappropriately involving itself in nonmilitary business and concluded that behavioral science had not been at fault. Support for foreign area behavioral research was repeatedly expressed during the hearings; it was called "one of the vital tools in the arsenal of the free societies."
The committee ended by chastising the DOS for spending such a minuscule amount of money on behavioral science—less than 1 percent of the federal government's total for foreign area research, according to Secretary of State Dean Rusk. It firmly recommended that civilian foreign policy bureaucrats invest in a much bigger behavioral research program and the executive branch establish an Office of the Behavioral Science Adviser to the President. In June 1966 Dante Fascell filed House bills designed to further these goals and correct civilian policy-makers' relative neglect of behavioral science.
The Intellectuals Debate Professional Ethics
Camelot's demise was also followed by much soul searching among intellectuals, who saw the project's significance rather differently than did its military sponsors or its congressional critics. Some observed that Camelot's consequences for experts were rather surprising. The credibility of behavioral science, they suggested, survived the ordeal of the congressional probe not only unscathed, but strengthened. As Robert Nisbet put it,
Let it be trumpeted far and wide: The federal government, starting with the subcommittee whose job it was to look into Camelot's coffin, and going all the way across town to Secretaries Rusk and McNamara, love the behavioral sciences; love them not despite but, apparently, because of their sins.... With the kind of luck that ... God grants to children, fools, drunkards, and citizens of the United States of America, the behavioral sciences emerged from this potentially devastating hearing with their luster untarnished, their prestige, if anything, higher.
What began as a Pandora's box may have ended as a lucky break in the coming-of-age story of behavioral experts, but intellectuals themselves were divided on Camelot's lessons. Some insisted that Camelot had been an excellent opportunity to shape policy, unforgivably squandered by incompetent operators. Others wondered about the acceptability of contracts from military agencies and compared what behavioral scientists were doing for the Defense Department to the huge amounts of work being conducted under the auspices of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) and other domestically oriented bureaucracies by the mid-1960s. A very few, worried that researchers were being turned into the unwitting servants of power, ventured so far as to ask whether any form of federal support could be ethical.
In the end, they reached no consensus. Few participants were naive enough to defend Camelot for its basic scientific value, but many maintained their remarkable optimism about the potential of behavioral science in government, regarding Camelot as an example of socially engaged research, even a rare opportunity for science "to sublimate" the military's unfortunate tendency toward violence. David Riesman, not a participant in Camelot himself, was not alone when he suggested that the episode proved "the top management of the Defense Department
often seems to have a wider perspective on the world than its counterpart in State." The next year, Gabriel Almond was still scolding DOS policy-makers for their backward intellectual tastes. "They believe in making policy through some kind of intuitive and antenna-like process," Almond noted testily, "which enables them to estimate what the prospects of this and that are in this or the other country. I believe they are a backward agency, as far as their relationship to science is concerned."
Ithiel de Sola Pool, a political scientist who had worked with Harold Lasswell at the Library of Congress during World War II, was a key figure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies, which had been founded and supported throughout the 1950s (with Ford Foundation and secret CIA funds) "to bring to bear academic research on issues of public policy." Sola Pool was probably the most enthusiastic proponent of a "humanizing" alliance between social science and government. "They [the social sciences] have the same relationship to the training of mandarins of the twentieth century that the humanities have always had to the training of mandarins in the past.... The only hope for humane government in the future is through the extensive use of the social sciences by government." Far from considering Camelot's participants to be spies, Sola Pool went so far as to accuse critics of "a kind of neo-McCarthyism."
Neither Camelot's supporters nor its detractors were politically homogeneous, and the project cannot, therefore, be easily dismissed as a perverse brainchild of rabid cold warriors. Many, perhaps even a majority, of participants were liberal anti-Communists; some were critics of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. For them, deploying the theories and techniques of behavioral science to prosecute the Cold War efficiently and nonviolently was evidence of the democratic values embedded in U.S. policy. Indeed, Camelot's critics and defenders all tended to venerate the vital and progressive role that behavioral expertise could and should play in government. Sociologist Irving Horowitz, who endorsed this position and called it the "Enlightenment Syndrome," was the most influential academic observer of the project's "life and death," "rise and fall." In his own articles on the subject and in the book he edited, The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot (1967) (which gathered primary documents as well as critiques), Horowitz expressed the anxieties of many intellectuals when he interpreted Camelot's cancellation as a serious attack on behavioral scientists' intellectual freedom and public contribution. "The degree to which the development of the social sci-
ences is permitted within a nation," he wrote, "operates as a twentieth-century index of freedom.... I do not think anyone can participate in social research and fail to see a high correlation of good social science and a good society."
Unlike Horowitz's belief in the freedom-reflecting quality of behavioral expertise, Charles Bray and the Smithsonian Group (the immediate predecessors of Camelot), had at least admitted that psychotechnologies were politically neutral, capable of application to repressive as well as benevolent ends. Awareness of the negative potentials of behavioral science was never, of course, entirely absent during the period after World War II. Bray's group followed the lead of important World War II-era figures like social psychologist Kurt Lewin and sociologist and NSF administrator Harry Alpert, who, while deeply committed to a vision of behavioral scientists bringing order and enlightenment to public policy, were nevertheless alert to the ever-present danger that their wisdom could still be used for manipulative purposes. "Unfortunately there is nothing in social laws and social research which will force the practitioner toward the good. Science gives more freedom and power to both the doctor and the murderer, to democracy and Fascism," wrote Lewin in a 1946 essay. Alpert restated the message more than a decade later. "Whether the atom is used for peace or destruction, whether bacteria are mobilized for purposes of health or disease, whether knowledge of human motivations is used to provide happiness or to sell soap, are alternatives which the scientist as seeker of knowledge and truth cannot determine," Such warnings seemed to lose their force under the pressure of Cold War conflicts and opportunities, at least until the antiwar movement gained the loyalty of many intellectuals in the late 1960s. During the 1950s and early 1960s, few doubts surfaced that U.S. policy-makers would see fit to use behavioral expertise exclusively in the interests of freedom, just as there was correspondingly little skepticism about the repressive reach of the Soviet psychological and psychiatric professions. "Nothing in the social sciences increases the capacity to manipulate an individual against his will," insisted Daniel Lerner in 1959. "The central tendency of social science is rather to increase man's capacity to manipulate his own social environment."
Horowitz was among the most thoughtful commentators on Camelot and its implications at the time. His own political views were decidedly left-wing; he was, for example, a great admirer of radical sociologist C. Wright Mills well before the New Left turned Mills into a hero.
Yet Horowitz embodied many of the assumptions of the World War II worldview, for example, that intellectuals' social responsibilities included special obligations to government, even when they opposed government policies.
In the case of Camelot, Horowitz criticized participants for their unscientific reluctance to look a gift horse in the mouth. Swallowing military objectives without question was a terrible mistake for which intellectuals should, Horowitz felt, be held responsible. But he was also convinced that contempt for social and behavioral science—rather than defective method or botched research design—was the real motive behind Camelot's termination. He regarded the whole affair as a major setback and Johnson's memo as "a gross violation of the autonomous nature of science." For Horowitz, Camelot's unhappy end threatened the fragile hold that behavioral expertise had on public policy. He chose to emphasize the virtues of socially engaged intellectuals over their ideological sins. They were, after all, at least trying to survive as the voice of reason in an unreasonable political system.
Some intellectuals on the Left, like social psychologist Herbert Kelman, were more willing than Horowitz to concede that behavioral research could serve repressive ends, that "even under the most favorable conditions manipulation of the behavior of others is an ethically ambiguous act." Yet Kelman too maintained that psychological expertise was a prerequisite for democratic decision making, "that social science ought to contribute to the policy process," and that it could and should be a profoundly "constructive and liberating force in society." Overcoming all the negatives required ensuring that psychological research would proceed uncontaminated by mundane political considerations and that experts would be able to do their work autonomously and in the spirit of international scientific cooperation.
Horowitz and Kelman were only two of the canceled project's public critics in the social sciences and psychology. The questions they raised about the ethical values and social responsibilities of behavioral scientists, and the relationship of research to government policy, were both timely and sincere. It does not detract from the validity of their critique to point out that they were also self-interested. Few voices were heard, for example, calling for a halt to government-funded research. Dismay about Camelot did not alter the conviction, widespread among behavioral scientists across the political spectrum, that such research should be continued, and preferably expanded.
The belief that science required complete political independence in order to generate positive results was entirely compatible with insis-
tence that whatever controls over socially useful research were needed should be retained by professionals themselves. Keeping the material and status benefits of government research contracts while expanding the authority of experts over the conditions and applications of their work was part of the ongoing, successful bargaining process that marked the public history of psychological expertise in the decades after World War II. Because experts whose political views led them to disagree about everything else (the Vietnam War, for example) could still agree about this, practically no ground was lost in the fight for government research support. Considering the international proportions of the Camelot scandal, this was a remarkable feat.
If any criticisms of Camelot questioned the very foundations of the bond between behavioral science and government, they tended to be voiced by cultural anthropologists for both historical and practical reasons. Their discipline, inextricably bound to the establishment of global empires by European states, had been shaken by espionage charges earlier in the century. In 1919 Columbia's Franz Boas accused four anthropologists of "prostitut[ing] science by using it as a cover for their activities as spies" during World War I. Even though his campaign to bring sanctions against them was outvoted in the American Anthropological Association (AAA), the discipline carded the burden of its imperial heritage uncomfortably; anthropological work sensitized scholars to the impact of Western rule on the underdeveloped world. Moreover, anthropology depended more heavily than any of the other disciplines on foreign field opportunities, and these could readily evaporate if foreign authorities doubted the sincerity of researchers' scientific intentions.
After Camelot, the AAA appointed a Committee on Research Problems and Ethics, sponsored a wide-ranging inquiry into the responsibilities of social scientists, and strongly urged other behavioral science organizations to do the same. The AAA adopted a series of resolutions such as the following: "Constraint, deception, and secrecy have no place in science.... Academic institutions and individual members of the academic community, including students, should scrupulously avoid both involvement in clandestine intelligence activities and the use of the name of anthropology, or the title of anthropologist, as a cover for intelligence activities." The anthropologists were not, however, entirely certain about how either "science" or "intelligence" should be defined. Ralph Beals, one of those most concerned with the negative consequences of Project Camelot for the profession, was also aware that the CIA extracted most of its information from civilian research. He
was forced to conclude that "unfortunately today there is practically no information that may not, under some circumstances, have military significance."
That this dilemma represented something more than a definitional problem was well illustrated when the alarm over Camelot in 1964 escalated into a tidal wave of shock over revelations of CIA involvement in academic life in the years that followed. Advocates of an "engaged anthropology" gained momentum from news about colleagues' secret activities, as they did from the gathering strength of the antiwar movement, and young leftists formed professional groups like Anthropologists for Radical Political Action. But the anthropological establishment reacted publicly too, stepping up its campaign to erect impermeable barriers between legitimate intellectual work and cloak-and-dagger intelligence gathering. The difference between the two, however, was far less obvious than caricatured images of scientists and spies would suggest, as they well knew.
As if to underscore the enduring confusion between research and espionage, antiwar activists brought evidence of counterinsurgency activities by social scientists to members of the AAA's Committee on Research Problems and Ethics in 1970, five years after Camelot had been put to rest. The Student Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam documented numerous instances of cooperation between anthropologists and the U.S. military, including a counterinsurgency project in Thailand run by the American Institutes for Research, the organizational descendent of SORO and the Center for Research in Social Systems (CRESS), which superseded SORO at the American University in 1966. In spite of the AAA's formal position that an unbridgeable gulf ought to exist between covert activities and anthropological fieldwork, the two committee members who went public with this information (Eric Wolf and Joseph Jorgensen) were reprimanded by the AAA for acting outside the bounds of their authority. They finally resigned in protest.
After Camelot, Hugo Nutini, the consultant whose lie exposed Camelot in the first place, was banned from returning to Chile.
The scandal's impact, however, extended well beyond his case. Many foreign governments devised restrictions to prevent U.S. meddling and, in a few cases, even slammed the door shut entirely on U.S. researchers. U.S. academics worried that "it doesn't make any difference whether you are a Ford fellow or an NSF fellow ... the natives will all say you're working for the CIA," regardless of what the facts of research sponsorship and design actually were.
Still, remarkably little about behavioral science funding or design changed after Camelot was canceled. A similar project was uncovered in Brazil less than two weeks later and others were launched in Colombia (Project Simpatico) and Peru (Operation Task), sponsored by SORO and funded by the DOD, exactly as Camelot had been. Project Agile, a study of National Liberation Front (NLF) members' motivation, the attitudes of villagers, and communication patterns among South Vietnamese troops, was carried out in the years after Camelot's demise, as were studies of the "Potential for Internal Conflict in Latin America." Whatever objections existed to such activities were clearly ineffective and did not interfere with the completion of the research. A confidential DOD memo written five weeks after Camelot's cancellation simply stated that counterinsurgency research involving foreign areas was "highly sensitive" and "must be treated in such a way that offense to foreign governments and propaganda advantage to the communist apparatus are avoided." Four years later, the DOD admitted that not a single one of its social or behavioral science projects, or for that matter anything at all involving foreign area work, had been terminated in the years after Camelot's exposure.
Two years after Camelot was canceled, the officers of most major behavioral science organizations gave their blessings to defense research in a congressional heating on that topic. Arthur Brayfield, the director of the American Psychological Association, had this to say: "I think the military should be free to use all reasonable, ethical, and competent tools at its command to help carry out its mission, and I would say strongly that the use of behavioral science and behavioral scientists is one of those useful tools." Such endorsements were qualified by warnings that it would be wise to pay closer attention to appearances in the future since it was inevitable that someone, somewhere, would always label behavioral research sensitive and accuse behavioral experts of being surreptitious manipulators.
Some visionary advocates tried to turn Camelot's negative public relations impact into a plus by arguing that the behavioral sciences deserved a federal foundation of their very own and should no longer have
to rely on the largesse of the military because of their secondary status in the NSF. "Senator for Science" Fred Harris (D-Okla.) led a movement in Congress in 1967 to establish a National Social Science Foundation. He agreed with Dante Fascell that foreign area research, in particular, needed to be "civilianized." Harris pointed to Camelot (and his subsequent membership on the Kerner Commission) as a turning point in his own thinking on the matter, but he often employed the shining example of World War II behavioral experts to make his case for the importance of social research in government.
Although Harris's battle for a separate foundation was ultimately lost, it is arguable that the social sciences won their war with the federal government during the 1960s. In 1968 President Johnson signed a bill amending the NSF's founding legislation and granting social science the formal status it initially lacked as part of the NSF mandate. Throughout the 1960s the NSF steadily increased the proportion of its budget devoted to social science and tilted its priorities toward the applied research with which social science was commonly associated.
Barely affected by Camelot's immediate fallout, the DOD nevertheless took a number of steps to shine up its tarnished image in the academic world after Camelot, and by the end of the decade such efforts were calculated as much to counteract storms of student antiwar protest as to dispel the doubts of hesitant faculty members. For example, in 1967 the DOD launched Project Themis, a program designed to encourage increasingly skeptical universities to consider the advantages of putting social and behavioral scientists to work for the DOD, and improving the caliber of those who did. In its first year alone, Themis doled out $20.5 million worth of support; the budget for its third year was projected at almost twice that.
The Defense Science Board, the DOD's highest-ranking advisory group, also convened in the wake of Camelot to mend the tattered relationship between the Defense Department and academic experts. Its members, eager to bury for good the uncomfortable questions that Camelot had raised, issued a report that took as axiomatic a view that would unravel for many before the end of the war in Vietnam: that intellectuals' obligation to serve their society and work for federal government agencies were one and the same. The report did not even consider the consequences, ethical or otherwise, of the specific military requirements and purposes of DOD behavioral science research. Instead, it concluded,
The DoD mission now embraces problems and responsibilities which have not previously been assigned to a military establishment. It has been properly stated that the DoD must now wage not only warfare but "peacefare" as well. Pacification assistance and the battle of ideas are major segments of the DoD responsibility. The social and behavioral sciences constitute the unique resource for support of these new requirements and must be vigorously pursued if our operations are to be effective.
Over the next decade, the Vietnam War put great pressure on the military to wage "peacefare." Behavioral research and its operational, "psywar" counterpart were in high demand partly because that war illustrated so dramatically the failure of great military might in the absence of basic cultural and political comprehension. Vietnam "sykewarriors" simply replicated, on a grander scale, many of the techniques used during World War II. In a typical month in 1969, 713 million leaflets were dropped from the air and two thousand hours of propaganda were broadcast—all to encourage NLF defections.
Other Vietnam-era studies reflected the evolution of psychological expertise since 1945. General Westmoreland demanded repeated studies of NLF psychology. He got them, pronounced them invaluable, and made them required reading for his staff. The most renowned of the Vietnam motivation and morale studies, and surely among the most elaborate field studies on revolutionaries and the revolutionary process, were those conducted by the RAND Corporation between 1964 and 1969. Apparently not at all affected by the Camelot scandal, the Viet-Cong Motivation and Morale Project (VC M&M) outlasted its original conception as a six-month pilot study in 1964 and became more secure and ambitious as the 1960s wore on. A classified project that studied prisoners, defectors, and refugees, sixty-two thousand pages of interviews were finally made public in 1972.
VC M&M was a classic example, during the Vietnam era, of the basic axiom about bureaucratic survival and expertise that policy-makers had learned during World War II: government uses social science the way a drunk uses a lamp post, for support rather than light. Its authors' conclusions—that the enemy was near the breaking point and that heavy bombing would quickly end the conflict—told the policy-makers exactly what they wanted to hear in 1965, the precise moment of military escalation. And there is quite a bit of evidence that policy-makers were paying close attention to the findings of VC M&M, rewarding the project's researchers for their good efforts with a 100 percent increase in funding in 1966.
The light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel mentality would, of course, appear tragically misguided later on. One of the project's own staff members would go so far as to call it "a whitewash of genocide." In the aftermath of Camelot, however, the RAND studies illustrated, once again, how politically useful psychological intelligence was to the policy-making process, even when it was entirely wrong.
The Progress of Cold War Psychology
In retrospect, it seems clear that policy-oriented behavioral expertise was neither fragile at the time of Camelot nor seriously jeopardized by the outcome of the scandal. In 1966 SORO, Camelot's sponsoring organization, reconstituted itself as the Center for Research in Social Systems (CRESS) and continued, under its new name, to provide the army with detailed information about the Third World. The name change was virtually the only change. Camelot's spirit lived on. Its outlines continued to inform the work of CRESS and other research organizations long after 1965. A number of subsequent studies bore more than a passing resemblance to the shelved project.
A three-volume CRESS study, Challenge and Response in Internal Conflict (1968), provides some clues about what Camelot might have looked like had it been completed. Like Camelot, it was launched in 1963 under the watchful eyes of SORO director Theodore Vallance. Its purpose was to provide the army with an "institutional memory bank" that could guide counterinsurgency planning. Although its authors declined to evaluate the specific military purposes to which their research might be put because "counterinsurgency might be undertaken by either 'good' or 'bad' governments in an assorted mix of 'good' and 'bad' ways," they were quite certain that U.S. counterinsur-gency efforts always assisted morally virtuous and popular regimes. The finished product encompassed the work of 45 experts from 14 universities, detailed 57 cases of twentieth-century insurgencies (29 since World War II), and literally covered the globe.
In the period after Camelot, CRESS also produced a number of Camelot-like behavioral studies spotlighting the Vietnamese insurgency. One, "Human Factor Considerations of Undergrounds in Insurgencies," surveyed twenty-four postwar cases, but an analysis of National Liberation Front psychology was its centerpiece. In their effort to understand why normally law-abiding individuals were drawn into
the orbit of dangerous revolutionary movements, psychologists Andrew Molnar, Jerry Tinker, and John LeNoir emphasized all the basic social psychological factors that had been identified as key variables during World War II: group membership and cohesiveness, patterns of leadership, the advantage of emotional over rational appeals. Like their predecessors in World War II-era psychology, they placed the individual firmly at the center of inquiries into social and political phenomena.
The study also featured a developmental stage model of the revolutionary process, based on the principles of crowd psychology, very much like the one Rex Hopper had outlined in 1950. It concluded with the familiar theme that the best counterinsurgency strategy was preventive treatment. But when nipping upheavals in the bud was impossible, as was the case in Vietnam, soldiers should be trained as "agents of pacification." They should be made into admirable models of civic action, engaged in the necessary work of building roads and bridges and, at the same time, capable of coercively channeling popular frustrations into the "catharsis" provided by loyalty to the existing government.
Many CRESS studies considered the frustration of personal needs a convincing explanation for revolutionary upheaval in Vietnam and elsewhere, a smooth continuation of yet another strand in World War II psychological warfare. One sophisticated 1969 survey, subcontracted by CRESS to the Princeton Center for International Studies, began by noting that "it seems evident that most riots and revolutions are made by angry men, not dispassionate ones, and that the more intense their anger, the more destructive their actions are likely to be.... Most human aggression occurs as a response to frustration."
Ironically, Camelot's spirit was destined to have its most lethal reincarnation in Chile, the country where it had been exposed, but which had never been one of the intended targets of research. In 1973, almost a decade after Camelot was canceled, its mark could be seen in the secret, CIA-sponsored coup against the socialist government of Salvador Allende.
The connection came through Abt Associates, a research organization located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose president, Clark Abt, had been one of Camelot's consultants. In I965 the DOD's Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) contracted with Abt to design a computer simulation game to be used for monitoring internal war in Latin America. Except for the addition of sophisticated computer technology, Camelot's goal remained intact. Dubbed Politica, the game
was first loaded with data about hundreds of social psychological variables in a given country: degree of group cohesiveness, levels of self-esteem, attitudes toward authority, and so on. Then it would "highlight those variables decisive for the description, indication, prediction, and control of internal revolutionary conflict."
In the case of Chile, according to Daniel Del Solar, one of Politica's inventors, the game's results eventually gave the green light to policy-makers who favored murdering Allende in the plan to topple Chile's leftist government. Politica had predicted that Chile would remain stable even after a military takeover and the president's death. Just as useful to the planners of military and covert action as the RAND study of Viet-Cong motivation and morale had been, Politica proved to be far more accurate.
Precisely because it was a fiasco, Camelot's story illustrates the stamina of the World War II worldview in the face of a significant challenge. It also helps to explain the political distance that behavioral science—psychology in particular—had traveled in twenty years, and the intimate links that had been forged between psychology's diverse public uses. By 1965 a majority of elected officials and top policy-makers thought they understood why "we have psychiatrists and psychologists running out of our ears in this Government of ours today." With regular prodding from the experts, they proclaimed that behavioral scholarship was indispensable to foreign and military policy. Yet in Camelot's case the aggressive political deployment of psychological expertise was effectively obscured through psychology's old scientific and new therapeutic reputation, which made it likely that knowledge about human societies would be considered as neutral technology or impractical basic research, even when it was being paid for by military or other institutions with clear political missions.
Almost two decades had passed since George Lundberg's classic formulation of social expertise as the ability "to predict with high probability the social weather, just as meteorologists predict sunshine and storm. More specifically, social scientists should be able to say what is likely to happen socially under stated conditions." Yet the vision of an objective psychology whose practitioners should strive to be technically proficient social engineers, which World War II had done so much to further, remained secure. Camelot's antiseptic language often emphasized the allegedly apolitical character of behavioral science, referring, for example, to "insurgency prophylaxis" rather than counterrevolu-
tion. Even at the height of the Cold War, psychology offered a convenient way to avoid all mention of capitalism, communism, or socialism.
One of Camelot's lessons was that even a significant international scandal, which in an earlier period might have elicited much debate about the proper relationship between knowledge and power, did not noticeably interrupt psychology's political progress. The heated debate among intellectuals that followed the project's cancellation revealed more about the insecurities felt by a group of intellectuals new to power than it did about any serious threat to their public status. Many of the official architects of the Vietnam War, after all—policy-makers like McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara, and Walt Rostow—were the very models of the new "mandarins" Sola Pool had so hopefully proclaimed to be the vanguard of a humanistic future.
They, along with the researchers put to work on Cold War projects like Camelot, all had liberal, behaviorally oriented educational backgrounds. They had dutifully absorbed the lessons of recent war, hot and cold: that political passions, ideas such as freedom, and military conflicts themselves were contaminated by toxic emotions in need of immediate treatment and firm containment. They studied the chaotic compound known as "national character," subsequently renamed "political culture," in hopes of producing effective management techniques. For the Cold War generation, "population control," the calculated shaping of behavior at home and abroad, was both a realistic and responsible goal. (This use of the term "population control" should not be confused with the global family planning programs it has frequently denoted since the 1960s.) Prediction and control via behavioral management was the enduring refrain of World War II-era experts, and it was constantly reiterated during the years that followed 1945. According to morale specialist Rensis Likert, "The important problems of our times concern human behaviour. . . . Problems of human behaviour underlie each of the many kinds of organized group effort on which nations are becoming increasingly dependent. . . . The larger social problems of nations and of the world also involve human behaviour." Cold War managers were, after all, charged with nothing less than overseeing the awful dangers of superpower conflict. Because they were involved in a global "minds race," the very future of the planet depended on how well they could stabilize the emotional and behavioral disorder caused by aggression, fear, self-interest, primitive loyalties, and the ever-present human quest for security, which took so many
irrational forms. Is it any wonder, in the face of such imposing emotional obstacles during the postwar decades, that the most famous psychologist in the United States—B. F. Skinner—would reject individual autonomy and suggest that psychology's biggest challenge was to move "beyond freedom and dignity." Skinner defined his profession's toughest problem as follows: "to induce people not to be good but to behave well."
As the years wore on, the booming postwar economy would slow and the quagmire of U.S. policy in Vietnam would become more obvious and elicit more protest. Cold War psychology, one product of the World War II worldview, would be more seriously challenged than it was at the moment of Camelot's exposure. By the end of the decade, Harold Lasswell himself, the very embodiment of World War II-era faith in psychological expertise, was expressing grave doubts about the enlightening potential of scientific expertise. "If the earlier promise [of science] was that knowledge would make men free," he said, "the contemporary. reality, seems to be that more men are manipulated without their consent for more purposes by more techniques by fewer men than at any time in history." By the time Lasswell spoke these discouraging words at the 1969 APA meetings, psychological experts had long since found secure new homes and enthusiastic new sponsors in federal bureaucracies devoted to cleaning up U.S. domestic social problems. Total federal expenditures on the "psychological sciences" steadily increased throughout most of the 1960s, from $38.2 million in fiscal year 1960 to a high of $l58 million in fiscal year 1967. While the source of most of the funds did shift decisively from DOD to HEW early in the decade, defense-related research spending never dipped. Camelot had little if any impact on the financial resources the military made available to psychological experts.
Neither, in 1965, had intellectuals of the sort involved in Camelot been recast by the Vietnam War, and antiwar critics like linguist Noam Chomsky, as the "secular priesthood" whose job it was "to ensure that the people's voice speaks the right words." Eventually, the antiwar movement would convert many Americans to views directly opposed to the World War II worldview. With a civilian population sharply divided on the merits of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, it became possible to think that psychology (and other varieties of expertise) was useful mainly because it helped the state maintain ideological control over a potentially unruly population, shield a murderous foreign policy from
public view, and "manufacture consent" by insisting that U.S. motives were always pure and U.S. power always legitimate.
The notion that mercenary experts were reinforcing U.S. dominance around the world in hopes of gaining power themselves was a far cry from the World War II image of exemplary citizen-intellectuals putting their social responsibility on display by going to work for the government. In 1972 Margaret Mead, compelled by the idea of a "generation gap" and exceptionally receptive to the ideas of young people, admitted as much when she reflected on what her own wartime activities had taught her: "that psychological warfare rebounded on those who perpetrated it, destroyed trust and simply prepared for later trouble—discoveries which the young radicals were to make over again in the 1960s but about which we had no doubt in the late 1940s."
When Camelot unfolded, however, most of the antiwar movement's history (including the partial takeover of the 1969 APA conference by antiwar activists) still lay in the future. The teach-in movement, which did so much to expose the military-industrial-academic complex, was just getting off the ground with novel, all-night gatherings on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The ideological beliefs of the World War II generation were still, for the most part, quite solid. Momentous conflicts existed between good and evil. Democracy was infinitely superior to any political alternative. And government could be trusted to use the power of science responsibly.
In 1965 the dreams inspired by World War II had come true. Psychological experts were no longer required to prove the efficiency they brought to military functioning, nor were they pressured to defend their investments in anti-Communist foreign and military policies, tasks they had pursued avidly in earlier years. The political benefits of psychology had become, for the moment at least, entirely self-evident and, at the same time, largely invisible. Society had become the patient. Psychology had become the cure.