Informal Power Actors

In contemporary American history, few elections (Congress, Senate, and Presidential) or important foreign or domestic policy strategy or law can be found in which the unofficial actors behind the power are not the main and beneficiary elements in its realization or approval and implementation; in particular groups and institutions that are wealthy and influential, and the increase in and survival of their wealth and interests depend on the presence of accompanying elements and options in the American power and politics system. Here are three informal actors in power and politics in the United States.

  1. A) AIPAC and the Jewish Lobby

AIPAC (Israel-US Public Affairs Committee) is one of the most influential and powerful organizations behind the scenes of power in the United States, which works in the interests of Israel with its cross-party activities. AIPAC, which was launched in the 1950s, has organized a united front of American Jews in support of Israel; A front that, in the words of Doug Racino, a professor of history at the University of Oslo and a researcher on American Zionism, “American politicians at every level have to respect.” Through constructive contacts with members of Congress, the Senate, and other senior executive branch, AIPAC paves the way for legal initiatives in Israel’s interest that will ensure its survival, existence, power, and security.

AIPAC’s influence in the power institutions (the presidency, the Senate and the Congress) stems from the influence of Jewish voters in the elections. The Jews, despite their small numbers, provide large sums of money to candidates from both parties. In addition, Jewish voter turnout is high and they are concentrated in major states such as California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in “The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy” argue that although no strategic or moral considerations can justify the current level of US support for Israel, they argue that the main justification for this unusual situation is the influence of the Jewish lobby in the United States. They argue that the Israeli lobby has played a major role in dragging the United States into the tragic 2003 Iraq war and thwarting efforts to establish relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Syria. Accordingly, the authors of the book introduce AIPAC as the main director of US foreign policy in the Middle East.


  1. B) Military-Industrial Complexes

“Military-industrial complexes” are other informal actors that play a complex role in US decision-making and foreign policy. When, just one day after Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, the stock value of major US arms companies such as Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon rises significantly, it is evident that arms factories, even in the determination of the highest elements of politics and power in the United States are also influential. The fact that for the first time under Trump, the US administration entered into multibillion-dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia and certain other Arab rulers, and in some areas did not shy away from “militarizing” foreign policy, is a clear indication of the impact of military-industrial complexes on the American foreign policy.

It is interesting to note that the elements in the Republican capitalist centres are mainly those who work in the field of arms production. The Bush administration, for example, was one of the most important periods in which representatives of the military industries played a significant role in government and foreign policy. The role of the industrial complex and the representatives of the arms companies in government policy was so significant that Richard Gardner, the former US ambassador to Spain and Italy, believes that in the current situation, the US is working more to prepare for war than to prevent it!

  1. C) Think Tanks

The think tanks that operate alongside the media as the “Fourth Power” (after the three branches of government: the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary), are among the other institutions behind the power in the United States. The role of these transnational think tanks, which act in the interests of the United States, is no less, if not less if not more than that of AIPAC and its military-industrial complexes. American think tanks, which play an important role in decision-making and setting patterns of behaviour and executive decisions in the United States, rank first in the world in number.

Think tanks through participation and cooperation with political parties, influential groups and government structures and private companies, generating ideas and strategies, holding meetings and forums, publishing books and articles, attending Congress meetings, advising politicians, writing various articles in the media and newspapers and holding government positions by their experts influence the American decision-making structure. Brookings, Rand, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Washington Institute, the American Enterprise, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, Heritage Foundation, and Hudson are some of the well-known think tanks that play a key role in shaping US-Iranian Middle East policy.

Researchers from think tanks of different nationalities, numbering more than 130,000 foreign researchers as of 2012, are regularly invited by government agencies, Senate and Congress committees, and executive government agencies to exchange views and present reports. These think tanks play an important role in designing and formulating ideas for the government. For example, the Marshall Plan Strategy and the US Cold War flexibility strategy were developed by the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, respectively. The Initiative has played a key role in US policy on Iraq. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracy is one of the other American think tanks that has a special role in formulating anti-Iranian approaches in 2009 as well as the Trump administration’s maximum pressure strategy.

The role of think tanks in the power structure and politics is such that Robert Crane, Nixon’s adviser says: “These centres play an important role in the presidential election, as well as in the Senate and Congress elections; but their role in the presidential election is more important. No president can run for president now or in the future without the help of these centres. “These centres played a clear and tangible role in bringing Clinton to power, despite the superiority of former President George W. Bush in terms of experience and political background.”

Concluding Remarks

As briefly discussed in this article, the United States is one of the most important countries in the world in which the power structure and politics are particularly intertwined with informal actors and behind-the-scenes elements, which has greatly undermined the independence of important government institutions. If it is said that the government in the United States, regardless of which political party is in power, is the spokesperson and executor of the decisions and inductions of informal institutions and actors, it is a statement consistent with the current realities in this country.