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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe AmericasThe Many Lines of Defense: The Political Economy of US Defense Acquisition

The Many Lines of Defense: The Political Economy of US Defense Acquisition

Authors: Eugene Gholz, Harvey M. Sapolsky

Affiliation: University of Notre Dame/ Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Organization/Publisher: Journal of Global Security Studies

Date/Place: April 7, 2020/ UK

Type: Journal Article

Number of Pages: 10


Keywords:  Defense Acquisition, Interest Group Politics, Political Economy, Military-Industrial Complex, Defense Industry, Military Services


The relation of security and political economy has been undermined by scholarship since the cold war. This paper opens a new academic window to analyze the political economy of defense. In developed states, particularly the US, the security and defense expenditure is an important variable when analyzing the political economy because of its inbound and outbound engagements. In the US context, the relation between defense corporations and government is exceptional. The government needs these companies to fulfill the State objectives, whether offensive or defensive, whereas these companies expect the government to finance or sponsor the huge industrial complexes. According to this paper, the defense companies have immense influence to manipulate the politics in the US. They support the defense budget while lobbying against each other for limitless financial gains. Additionally, inter-services rivalry has been seen while contesting for funding from the defense budget, in some instances influence over key decision makers is also evident. Furthermore, the interest of Congress in weapons’ acquisition is also understandable because every legislator knows about the military industrial complexes in his or her district; therefore, congressional approval of a huge military budget ensures the availability of jobs in the respective constituency. The author concludes that the answer to the most popular question regarding the source of military power is “the political economy of defense.” 

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Research Associate



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