Defense Spending and the Military-Industrial Complex

Length: 482 words

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

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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.

The hallmark of good literature is that it combines art with raising social consciousness. This is certainly true of the 3 classics perused for this essay. Falling into different genres like fiction, nonfiction and reportage, the three works treat the social consequences of war in their own unique ways. The rest of this essay will show how themes of love, loss, perception and reality are adequately addressed in these works.

The Things They Carried is an assortment of short stories penned by Tim O’Brien based on his first hand experiences in Vietnam. O’Brien was part of the platoon called Alpha Company, which was actively engaged in combat with the Vietnamese. As a result, though the stories contain fictitious additions, they are mostly based on real events witnessed by the author. Several themes recur through these stories. Chief among them are love, camaraderie and courage. Love is most pronounced in the relationship between Cross and Martha. Cross agrees to narrate his .

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