Spending and the Military-Industrial Complex (effect of “iron triangles”): DQ2 introduces the concept of the “Iron Triangle.” In this context, we are studying the three sides of the so-called “Iron Triangle”. The term refers to a powerful three-sided combination, made up of certain members of Congress (or Congressional committees), certain parts of the bureaucracy (executive branch agencies and administrative departments), and special interest groups. Each of the entities comprising the triangle arguably seeks to capitalize on (and expand) its own particular angle. The parties also work together to satisfy mutual interests. Consider connotation in this context. At first blush, do you expect the term “iron triangle” to have a positive or negative connotation? Please approach this topic with the aim to both critique and assess validity. Diagramming and Critical Analysis Diagramming is extremely useful in this context. You might want to draw your own visual representation of a triangle and consider the use of arrows to visually represent inter-relationships and related flows. Use both single-sided and double-sided arrows. Drawing your own diagrams is an effective tool to help understand the inter-relationships and mutual dependencies amongst the various groups. For example, Congress has the power to provide () funding and political support to bureaucrats. This funding and related flow can be represented by a visual arrow. In DQ2 you’ll extend your analysis to the “military-industrial complex”. As you complete the readings and organize thoughts for your initial post, please try to diagram the relationships amongst the interested parties. Set out the three-sided geometric figure with which you’re already familiar. Then, place the relevant parties at the three corners. What are the inter-relationships among them? How do interests flow? Funding? Support? For example, to the extent that the defense industry profits when the military commits to a lengthy war, how might interests be impacted? What are the relative interests of Congress, the military bureaucracies, and defense industries? How are those interests intertwined? What other parties have a stake in this context? How might they penetrate the triangular relationship? To the extent they are unable to do so, what concerns might this raise? In your discussion, pay special attention to the DQ’s point that while many commentators argue the military-industrial complex is an example of an iron triangle with negative consequences, not everyone agrees. What are the arguments disputing parties might put forth? What type of support do such parties look to? Do you agree with the arguments? Please also work to draw your own conclusions. Remember to support your view with facts as well as persuasive reasoning about the impact of these relationships on defense spending. Simply saying “I agree” or “I disagree” will not effectively persuade your readers or further the class discussion. Evaluation and Further Questions Please also work to evaluate the accuracy of the iron triangle model as a basis for understanding the process of making defense spending policy. Can you identify any flaws with this model? You can also consider the triangle like an arena, of sorts. The three sides (parties) bounce arguments, claims and ideas back and forth off one another. The three parties also work together to satisfy mutual interests. The triangle is closed, however, and, as a result, the model does not easily recognize outside influences. However, the outside influences are many, and include a variety of parties. Work to identify those parties and the implications the tightly-knit triangular relationship might have on them. As you tackle the readings on this topic, please keep the following questions in mind – • Which part of the iron triangle would you expect to have the greatest power over policymaking? Why? • Do you believe we could effectively eliminate iron triangles? Why, why not? To the extent we were able to do so, what new issues might arise? • What about private citizens and groups? What role, if any, do/should they play in this context? As you move on, consider the term iron. A strong element, iron is often impenetrable. In this context – where existing triangles are as “strong as iron,” outside influences, including the interests of the general public, often have little ability to impact established relationships. Consider the long-lasting implications of such strong mutually supportive relationships. How might private citizens be impacted, and what might a concerned citizen do in order to enhance his/her influence on this policy-making environment? Research and Recent Events In connection with the military-industrial complex, where is this strength most evident? Would you characterize one side of the triangle as stronger than the others? Focus on recent news events involving military spending. Pay close attention to relationships that you can identify between the noted parties/elements of your triangle. Focus on stories involving parties that are charged with managing wars (for example, the military, the President and his administration and Congress) as well as companies that produce weapons and other war-time supplies and equipment (the defense industry and other groups). You might be surprised at how readily you begin to identify the inter-relationships that can form the strong inter-dependencies being studied. Hi, This is my first time using this and I am in great need of help. I was hoping that you could help me. I am currently living in Cairo, Egypt and have been extremely overwhelmed with the situation here. I have many DQ's I am late for due to not having a laptop and I am unable to access information. Please help me Sherene
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