Project Camelot and Chile

Originally found at

From The Rise and Fall of Project Camelot: Studies in the Relationship Between Social Science and Practical Politics, Irving Louis Horowitz, ed. (Cambridge MA: The M.I.T. Press, 1967), pp. 47-49 (document) and 232-36 (Jorge Montes):

Document Number 1

The following description of Project Camelot was released on December 4, 1964, through the Office of the Director of the Special Operations Research Office (SORO) of the American University in Washington, D.C. It was sent to scholars who were presumed interested in the study of internal war potentials and who might be willing to assemble at a four-week conference at the Airlie House in Virginia in August 1965. This release, dated December 4, 1964, is a summary version of a larger set of documents made available in August 1964 and in December 1964 [I.L.H.].

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. Somewhat more specifically, its objectives are:

First, to devise procedures for assessing the potential for internal war within national societies;

Second, to identify with increased degrees of confidence those actions which a government might take to relieve conditions which are assessed as giving rise to a potential for internal war; and

Finally, to assess the feasibility of prescribing the characteristics of a system for obtaining and using the essential information needed for doing the above two things.

The project is conceived as a three to four-year effort to be funded at around one and one-half million dollars annually. It is supported by the Army and the Department of Defense, and will be conducted with the cooperation of other agencies of the government. A large amount of primary data collection in the field is planned as well as the extensive utilization of already available data on social, economic and political functions. At this writing, it seems probable that the geographic orientation of the research will be toward Latin American countries. Present plans call for a field office in that region.

By way of background: Project CAMELOT is an outgrowth of the interplay of many factors and forces. Among these is the assignment in recent years of much additional emphasis to the U.S. Army’s role in the over-all U.S. policy of encouraging steady growth and change in the less developed countries in the world. The many programs of the U.S. Government directed toward this objective are often grouped under the sometimes misleading label of counterinsurgency (some pronounceable term standing for insurgency prophylaxis would be better). This places great importance on positive actions designed to reduce the sources of disaffection which often give rise to more conspicuous and violent activities disruptive in nature. The U.S. Army has an important mission in the positive and constructive aspects of nation building as well as a responsibility to assist friendly governments in dealing with active insurgency problems.

Another major factor is the recognition at the highest levels of the defense establishment of the fact that relatively little is known, with a high degree of surety, about the social processes which must be understood in order to deal effectively with problems of insurgency. Within the Army there is especially ready acceptance of the need to improve the general understanding of the processes of social change if the Army is to discharge its responsibilities in the over-all counterinsurgency program of the U.S. Government. Of considerable relevance here is a series of recent reports dealing with the problems of national security and the potential contributions that social science might make to solving these problems. One such report was published by a committee of the Smithsonian Institution’s research group under the title, “Social Science Research and National Security,” edited by Ithiel de Sola Pool. Another is a volume of the proceedings of a symposium, “The U.S. Army’s Limited-War Mission and Social Science Research.” These proceedings were published in 1962 by the Special Operations Research Office of the American University.

Project CAMELOT will be a multidisciplinary effort. It will be conducted both within the SORO organization and in close collaboration with universities and other research institutions within the United States and overseas. The first several months of work will be devoted to the refinement of the research design and to the identification of problems of research methodology as well as of substance. This will contribute to the important articulation of all component studies of the project toward the stated objectives. Early participants in the project will thus have an unusual opportunity to contribute to the shaping of the research program and also to take part in a seminar planned for the summer of 1965. The seminar, to be attended by leading behavioral scientists of the country, will be concerned with reviewing plans for the immediate future and further analyzing the long-run goals and plans for the project.

A Communist Commentary on Camelot

by Jorge Montes Chilean Chamber of Deputies, 1965

A number of newspapers, and particularly El Siglo, have been referring to a so-called “Project Camelot.” What is this project? In order to define it, we shall textually quote from an official document. [See Document No.1 above, from which excerpts were cited.]

These quotes from the project reveal the determination on the part of U.S. foreign policy to intervene in any country of the world where popular movements might threaten its interests. To this end, they use a covert form of espionage, which they try to present in terms of scientific research, thus violating the most elementary norms of sovereignty.

Indeed, our own country, Uruguay, Colombia, and Venezuela in Latin America, Senegal and Nigeria in Africa, and India, Vietnam, and Laos in Asia are the countries in which organized espionage, under the appearance of sociological investigation and under the rubric of “Project Camelot,” is being carried out. Continue reading