Our Enemies and US
America's Rivalries and the Making of Political Science
Ido Oren challenges American political science's definition of itself as an objective science attached to democracy. The material Oren unearthed in his research into the discipline's ideological nature may discomfit many: Woodrow Wilson's admiration of Prussia's efficient bureaucracy; the favorable review of Mein Kampf published in the American Political Science Review; the involvement of political scientists in village pacification and interrogation of Viet Cong prisoners during the Vietnam War. Oren reveals the fervently pro-German views of the founder of the discipline, John W. Burgess, who stated that the Teutonic race was politically superior to all others, and he presents evidence of a long-term, intimate relationship between the discipline and the national security agencies of the U.S. government.
Oren documents a systematic pattern of historical change in the discipline's characterization of America and America's chief enemies (Imperial Germany, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Stalin's Russia). These characterizations, he finds, swing from pre-conflict ideological "accommodationism" to post-conflict "nationalism." Substantial traces of this historical process, in which politics and scholarship intertwine, still remain in the supposedly objective concepts and data sets of contemporary political science. Our Enemies and US is more than an exposé, however. Oren urges academics to be more sensitive to the moral ramifications of their work and to reflect on issues fundamental to the identity of political science. The discipline, he says, must take into account the historical position of its own scholarship.