The Iron Triangle The Political Influence of the Military
I. The Cold War and Permanent Defense • Strong military is institutionalized – becomes interest group vying for government funds
2. USA vs. Everyone Else USA: $586.25 billion in FY 2007 ($666 b in 2008) China Russia Japan UK France Italy India Israel Iran North Korea Germany S. Arabia S. Korea Syria Next 50 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 550
DHS Spending 2006 2007 2008 2009
B. Military resistance to nuclear warfighting: LNOs • Problem: US nuclear war plan (SIOP) had no contingency calling for less than a few hundred nuclear weapons • Eisenhower demands revisions to allow use of single weapons for political purposes (limited retaliation, response to conventional war) • So does Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan….yet SIOP never updated to include LNOs
C. 1986: Goldwater-Nichols • Origins: • Failed/difficult joint operations of 1970s-1980s = Congressional pressure for interservice unity • Joint Chiefs of Staff (commanders of the services) oppose reorganization • Nearly five years of lobbying and horse-trading follow • Key provision for our purposes: Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff established as central military advisor to President • Effects • Notable reduction in inter-service rivalry • Military now speaks with one voice – more difficult for civilians to oppose
II. The Military Learns to Play Politics A. Military Opposition to Clinton • Origins • Characteristics of the President: avoided Vietnam service, did drugs, expressed “loathing” for military service in 1969 letter, protested Vietnam War • Increasing partisanship in military (probably due to end of conscription) – military shifted Republican from 1970s-1990s (to about 2:1 in general, up to 9:1 among elite officers)
d. The “Gays in the Military” Controversy • Clinton promises to allow openly gay people to serve in the US Armed forces • Widespread military opposition prevents policy implementation • Colin Powell (Chairman of JCS) denounces policy in Congressional hearings • Two Marine officers publish editorial in Washington Post warning that unless JCS keeps ban, it risks “losing the loyalty of junior officers.” Notes that a soldier “swears allegiance to the Constitution, not to the Commander-in-Chief” • Congress responds to military lobbying by codifying ban as law, preventing future Presidents from overturning it
2. Symptoms: Repeated insubordination • Clinton’s first visit to aircraft carrier marked by open mockery to reporters by both enlisted personnel and officers • Air Force Major Gen. Harold Campbell forced to resign after he called President Clinton a "gay-loving, draft-dodging, pot-smoking, womanizing“ Commander-in-Chief • JCS openly opposes policies of Defense Secretary Les Aspin in 1993 repeated leaks to press by military officers Clinton forces Aspin to resign • Air Force chief of staff retires early (unprecedented), criticizes Clinton
B. Military Criticism of Rumsfeld • Rumsfeld tries to implement “Revolution in Military Affairs” – services oppose cuts in weapons systems • Rumsfeld attacks generals who insist occupation of Iraq will require more than 100,000 troops • Retired generals begin to criticize Rumsfeld • Democrats find many to sign anti-Rumsfeld statements • Republicans respond with pro-Rumsfeld generals of their own • Note: Civilian parties are competing for the “endorsement” of the military!
C. Procurement: The “Iron Triangle” Congress, the Pentagon, and Defense Contractors
2. Contracts and Congress • Pentagon and defense contractors spread sub-contract work to key districts/states • Programs often use many more contractors/locations than required, inflating costs (but maximizing political survivability)
4. Example: The F-22 Raptor a. Overview • Planned during Cold War to defeat future Soviet fighters • Estimated cost: $68 billion for 750 fighters (initial estimate) now down to 339 fighters – at the same price • 1999: House tries to kill F-22 • All six members of JCS publicly condemn decision • Congress discovers F-22 has 1000 subcontractors in 42 states!
d. Outcome: F-22 Preserved • Clinton threatens to veto cuts to F-22 • House-Senate conference removes provision
e. Long-Term: Decade required to kill the program • Rumsfeld fails to kill it (Congress refuses to cut it) • 2006: GAO recommends against further spending • F-22 still in FY2007 budget, despite repeated criticism by Rumsfeld • $65 billion now buys only 183 planes
ii. Gates succeeds – after years of preparation • Gates takes office, avoids adversarial relationship with military (unlike Rumsfeld, he suggests no radical changes) • June 2008: Gates uses nuclear weapons screw-ups as excuse to fire Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff (both vocal supporters of the F-22) • 2009: Gates announces plan to kill the F-22 • Proposes speeding development of F-35 (also built by Lockheed) • New top Air Force officials write an editorial in favor of killing the program – even though they earlier supported it! • Lockheed fears losing the new funds, so backs off from lobbying for F-22. CEO: “I embrace Secretary Gates’s call to put the interests of the United States first — above the interests of agencies, services and contractors — and I will support him in every way.” • Representatives find it hard to mobilize voters without support of Lockheed – pro-F-22 forces are outvoted.
5. More examples: FY2006 Budget • Secretary of Navy proposes building new destroyer in one shipyard instead of two in MS and ME (saves $300 million) • MS, ME Senators place “hold” on Secretary’s promotion to deputy defense secretary • ME Senator attaches rider to defense bill in Armed Services Committee prohibiting consolidation of production • Rumsfeld suggests cutting major conventional systems for 5th year in a row -- effort is unsuccessful. Services propose cutting personnel to pay for new systems (the “Washington Monument ploy”)
6. Does the Iron Triangle threaten civilian control? • Executive control decreased: Evidence includes Carter’s naval strategy and resistance to Clinton/Rumsfeld • Congressional control increased: Unhappy commanders lobby Congress to undo DoD decisions • Isn’t this what Johnson wants – a move away from executive branch dominance?
D. Conclusions • Military has become politicized • Permanent standing army is large enough to be economically important • Military (especially officers) have generally become more partisan (with possible recent decline) • Military has learned to protect interests within political system (organized lobbying) • Tradition of deference has changed: imagine generals publicly criticizing Lend-Lease or Truman’s integration of the Army