Egypt, Tanks, Fighter Jets, and $1 Billion dollars in annual aid, how the industrial military complex utilizes domestic concerns to reinforce the iron triangle.
The industrial military complex refers to policy and monetary relationships between legislators, national armed forces, and the military industrial base (Contractors) that supports them.
These relationships include political contributions, political approval for military spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and oversight of the industry. This relationship is known as an Iron Triangle.
The term is most often used in reference to the system behind the military of the United States, where it gained popularity after its use in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower on January 17, 1961.
Egypt serves as a case example of the industrial military complex and the iron triangle in which it represents.
Each year, the Unites States Congress votes to appropriate $1 Billion Dollars in monetary to aid to Egypt. This aid, however, does not come in a direct form ($1 Billion in cash), but instead comes in the form of manufactured goods; for example:
Egypt has been receiving tanks from the U.S. since the late 1980’s. In total, Egypt has received over 1,000 tanks manufactured within the United States valued at $3.9 Billion.
This same time period, the U.S. has also sent 221 fighter jets (including the well known F-16) valued at $8 Billion.
The last few years, American military advisers in Cairo have been instructing the State Department that Egypt does not need any more tanks or fighter jets (200 of the tanks sent from the U.S. have never even been used and remain sealed in storage).
But, despite this recommendation to reduce the number of military vehicles being produced and shipped to Egypt, the tanks and the jets keep on coming and the aid keeps on flowing.
So why keep appropriating $1 Billion a year to Egypt to manufacture tanks and jets that will just end up in storage?
The reason being the exemplification of the Iron Triangle in action.
Egypt won’t turn down tanks and jets from the U.S. and that is exactly how the U.S. wants it!
The tanks and jets produced for Egypt are built in the U.S. Those orders for tanks in jets translate to production request. Production request are paid for by government appropriations. Those appropriations are then used to pay contractors to build tanks and jets. Contractors then hire workers to build those tanks and jets. Hired employees are working and their representative in Congress can campaign on a platform of creating/saving jobs for the American people. Congress representative can then become re-elected and remain in Congress. Congress representative then votes to appropriate $1 Billion in aid for Egypt and the cycle begins anew.
That is the industrial military complex as exemplifying the concept of the iron triangle. Each interest reinforces the other in a continual cycle/loop which repeats over and over and over.
Everyone in the process benefits from the actions. The U.S. maintains a healthy relationship with Egypt in a region where positive U.S relations are difficult to come by; military contractors get money to operate and earn profit and leaders in Congress maintain a positive image of strengthening domestic economic conditions.
The incentive to continue the cycle is greater than the benefit of ending it. Therefore, the process will continue.
Dwight D. Eisenhower was right to warn the United States of the rise of the military industrial complex, unfortunately that warning has fallen on deaf ears.
Courtesy of NPR’s Planet Money
- Egypt Cannot Possibly Use All Of Its US-Made Tanks ‘Short Of An Alien Invasion’ (businessinsider.com)
- US continues giving military aid to Egypt by delivering four F16 jets (independent.co.uk)
- Egypt May Not Need Fighter Jets, But U.S. Keeps Sending Them Anyway (wnyc.org)