Dwight Eisenhower’s warnings about the Military-Industrial Complex have proved prophetic in the years since. Addressing the nation on occasion of his tenure’s closure, he reminded Americans about the threat to democratic policy-making posed by this corrupt nexus. Levin-Waldman’s concept of the ‘iron triangle’ closely aligns with Eisenhower’s understanding. Indeed, the former President had to strike out Congress from his original Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex as his advisers deemed it to be too provocative (but factual nonetheless). In the Levin-Waldman model, we can substitute the Military as the dominant ‘interest group’, whose lobbyists are constantly pressurizing members of the Congress and Senate to get passed legislations favoring their industry.
The veracity of Eisenhower and Levin-Waldman claims are evidenced in budgetary allocations to the arms industry. The United States has by far the most powerful military in the world. Despite having no well-defined enemy as in the Cold War era, its military spending has not subsided in the uni-polar geo-political condition. To put the defense budget in perspective, the United States defense spending for 2011 was upwards of $700 billion (4.7 % of the GDP) whereas the next big spender is China ($143B at 2% of GDP). This shows how skewered the American policy framework is toward benefitting those ‘interest groups’ mentioned by Levin-Waldman and Eisenhower.
Companies like Lockheed Martin and Halliburton have reaped windfall profits in the aftermath of the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Their profits have come at a time when the American public healthcare system has been shrinking and the private healthcare proving unaffordable to more than 50 million citizens. A similar decline in funding for public schools and universities has accompanied the high budgetary allocation for defense spending. Tuition fees for colleges have also shot up during the time. Hence, the iron triangle model is a very useful conception for understanding the general policy making process in America and its tendency to favor private corporate interests over the general population.