Sometimes Miss Self-Important makes mistakes. A recent example of this alarmingly frequent phenomenon was selecting American politics as my second field. I innocently imagined that something called American politics would be about America and politics, both of which I have some interest in. Turns out, no. It's apparently about math and stupid, and in particular, the use of math to demonstrate stupid. But I repeat myself.
Let's look at today's exhibit. It's a journal article entitled "War and American Politics." Now, many academic papers begin with some generic assertion that their subject has been neglected in the literature. Sometimes that's true, usually not, but it's generally something you can just ignore. However, here is the first sentence of the abstract to this article, which brilliantly illuminates the problems to come: "Wars have been underexamined as causal factors in American political history."
Ok, now that you've had a moment to digest that incredible suggestion, let's look at the argument. This is it: American wars have political effects. You might be thinking, clearly there must be more to it than that. But you would be wrong. The author then catalogues some examples of wars America has fought, and their political effects. But only immediate political effects, mind you, because longer-term causation is too hard to establish scientifically, so "it is probably best to steer clear of anything to do with the cold war as an effect of World War II."
And what was the purpose of this fascinating exercise in shutting our eyes against 200 years of American historiography and pretending that American politics is the first and only body of thought in the history of the world? To provide an important corrective to some problems endemic to the practice of American politics, namely that, "We tend to assume that interests or preferences are the basic building blocks of an analytical political science, yet it risks analysis that is unhelpfully truistic [what could our author possibly know about being unhelpfully truistic?] or unhelpfully abstract. Where do interests or preferences...come from? One answer is events."
Ohhh, events. What an idea. Also, you may now be thinking that this article was probably published in something like 1925 at the dawn of academic political science. But, wrong again. It's from 2005.
UPDATE: Turns out, this was apparently assigned for the purpose of modeling a bad article. Sigh.