Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Military Industrial Complex | The Iron Triangle Model

The iron triangle model, at its essence, is the collaboration between Congress, special interest groups (such as lobbyists) and bureaucracies. Essentially what this means is that special interests groups will lobby Congress to pass friendly regulations or conduct certain actions that will benefit the bureaucracy that is being lobbied for. One example of an iron triangle is the military industrial complex or in other words, the weapon and military technology companies that benefit from increased US military spending. "It's really about the conjunction between the military itself, the weapons contractors, and in some degree the Congress. And it deals with how they kind of work in tandem" (Huey-Burns, 2011) and each has something to gain from this relationship. "In 1961, Eisenhower warned of a "scientific-technological elite" that would dominate public policy, and of a "military-industrial complex" that would claim "our toil, resources, and livelihood" (Newton, 2010).

Military technology companies are not the only ones to profit from this relationship, lobbyists profit immeasurably as well. The more success that is achieved from lobbying Congress, the more lobbyists that are hired. It may seem obvious that companies that produce weapons or military technology and lobbyists have a lot to gain from increased military spending, but what does Congress have to gain? There are many benefits for a Congress person to support the military industrial complex. For one, they may receive financial incentives such as campaign donations from these companies for their support. Also, they may be seen as supporting the troops if they vote in favor of increased military spending. Additionally, "parts of the F-22 are built in more than 40 states" (Jonsson, 2009), and with that in mind, they may be viewed as bringing jobs to their constituency by doing so. In 2009, when the Pentagon said that it was planning on putting a "cap production of America's top-of-the-line fighter at 187 aircraft" (Jonsson, 2009) many unionized workers were very upset about the possibility of losing their jobs.

When Congress takes action on behalf of their own interests, not that of their constituency, to the benefit of private companies we should all be concerned. With a national debt over $18 trillion it would not seem wise to continue military spending just for the purpose of creating jobs. In recent years, the Republican party has been a major proponent of military spending; however, the primary beneficiary of these jobs are union contractors who are generally democrat voters. It is a strange dynamic that has been created, but it is doubtful that it will change anytime soon. There is a lot of pressure on Congress to keep spending money on military technology, but it should concern everyone when their Congress men and women become financially beholden to outside interests.

Huey-Burns, C. (2011, January). The modern military-industrial complex. U.S. News & World Report, 1. Retrieved from ProQuest (Search All) database, in the Ashford University Library.
Newton, J. (2010, Dec 20). IKE'S SPEECH. The New Yorker, 86, 42. Retrieved from
Jonsson, P. (2009, Apr 08). You can't kill F-22, georgians tell gates. The Christian Science Monitor Retrieved from

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