Cover image for The making of the Cold War enemy : culture and politics in the military-intellectual complex
The making of the Cold War enemy : culture and politics in the military-intellectual complex
Robin, Ron Theodore.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Princeton, N.J. : Princeton University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xvi, 277 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Introduction: Rumors of an enemy -- PART ONE: DEFINING THE PARADIGM: Inventing the behavioral sciences -- The culture of think tanks -- Psychopolitics and primary groups: theories of culture and society in Cold War academia -- PART TWO: NORMAL SCIENCE: The obstinate audience: the art of information management in the Cold War -- The war of ideas: ideology and science in psychological warfare -- Deus ex clinica: psychopolitics and elite studies of communism -- Collective behavior in totalitarian societies: the analysis of POWs in Korea -- Prison camps and culture wars: the Korean brainwashing controversy -- PART THREE: CRISIS: Vietnam: from "Hearts and minds" to "Rational choice" -- Paradigm lost: the Project Camelot Affair -- Epilogue: Report from Iron Mountain and beyond.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E744 .R63 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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At the height of the Cold War, the U.S. government enlisted the aid of a select group of psychologists, sociologists, and political scientists to blueprint enemy behavior. Not only did these academics bring sophisticated concepts to what became a project of demonizing communist societies, but they influenced decision-making in the map rooms, prison camps, and battlefields of the Korean War and in Vietnam. With verve and insight, Ron Robin tells the intriguing story of the rise of behavioral scientists in government and how their potentially dangerous, "American" assumptions about human behavior would shape U.S. views of domestic disturbances and insurgencies in Third World countries for decades to come.

Based at government-funded think tanks, the experts devised provocative solutions for key Cold War dilemmas, including psychological warfare projects, negotiation strategies during the Korean armistice, and morale studies in the Vietnam era. Robin examines factors that shaped the scientists' thinking and explores their psycho-cultural and rational choice explanations for enemy behavior. He reveals how the academics' intolerance for complexity ultimately reduced the nation's adversaries to borderline psychotics, ignored revolutionary social shifts in post-World War II Asia, and promoted the notion of a maniacal threat facing the United States.

Putting the issue of scientific validity aside, Robin presents the first extensive analysis of the intellectual underpinnings of Cold War behavioral sciences in a book that will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the era and its legacy.

Author Notes

Ron Robin is Professor of History and Dean of Students at Haifa University in Israel. He is the author of Enclaves of America: The Rhetoric of American Political Architecture Abroad and The Barbed Wire College: Reeducating German POWs in the United States during World War II (both Princeton).

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Robin (history, Haifa Univ., Israel) weaves an entirely plausible but weirdly improbable true tale of the making of Cold War policy. Although the Soviet Union became the US's nuclear bogeyman, capable of slipping into collective nightmares and panicking Americans into paranoia, Robin shows that it was the entirety of the worrisome world beyond US borders that needed the comfort of pseudo-scientific explanation. The collective union of leading social science expertise and an irrational need to categorize, simplify, and ultimately demonize an increasingly anti-American world is a story worth telling, and Robin does so magnificently. Though the process starts with government decision makers eager to tap into the scientific expertise of academia, the end is ultimately captured by the method and its defective outputs are applied to US interventions from Korea through Desert Storm. Robin oversimplifies matters in attempting to reduce the story to behavioralism's contempt for complexity, uncritical acceptance of prevailing cultural norms, and the denial of its own limitations, but this is a minor criticism. Readers may agree or disagree with Robin's conclusions, but the book brilliantly highlights the frailty and ultimately the absurdity of applying model theory to real-world problems. This is an academic gem. Recommended at all levels. E. C. Dolman United States Air University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
List of Abbreviationsp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Introduction: Rumors of an Enemyp. 3
Part 1 Defining the Paradigm
1 Inventing the Behavioral Sciencesp. 19
2 The Culture of Think Tanksp. 38
3 Psychopolitics and Primary Groups: Theories of Culture and Society in Cold War Academiap. 57
Part 2 Normal Science
4 The Obstinate Audience: The Art of Information Management in the Cold Warp. 75
5 The War of Ideas:Ideologyand Science in Psychological Warfarep. 94
6 Deus ex Clinica : Psychopolitics and Elite Studies of Communismp. 124
7 Collective Behavior in Totalitarian Societies: The Analysis of Enemy Pows in Koreap. 144
8 Prison Camps and Culture Wars: The Korean Brainwashing Controversyp. 162
Part 3 Crisis
9 Vietnam: From "Hearts and Minds" to "Rational Choice"p. 185
10 Paradigm Lost: The Project Camelot Affairp. 206
11 Epilogue:Report from Iron Mountain and Beyondp. 226
Notesp. 239
Indexp. 271