Friday, February 03, 2006

Rummy and the Four-Star Stooges

The Pentagon got fighting mad at The Washington Post over a political cartoon by Tom Toles. Its response to Toles' satire was typical Bush administration blame shifting propaganda.

The cartoon depicts a quadriplegic soldier in a hospital bed. Standing by the bed is "Doctor Rumsfeld," who remarks, "I'm listing your condition as battle hardened." A caption at the bottom of the panel reads, "I'm prescribing that you be stretched thin. We don't define that as torture." (See the cartoon here.)

As WaPo's Howard Kurtz explains:
The cartoon is based on remarks that Rumsfeld made last week. In rejecting warnings by a Pentagon-sponsored study that the Iraq war risks "breaking" the Army, he said the U.S. military is "battle hardened" and an "enormously capable force."

The Joint Chiefs of Staff apparently didn't find much humor in the cartoon. A letter to The Post signed by chairman Peter Pace, the vice chairman, and the other service chiefs said:
We believe you and Mr. Toles have done a disservice to your readers and your paper's reputation by using such a callous depiction of those who have volunteered to defend this nation, and as a result, have suffered traumatic and life-altering wounds . . .

While you or some of your readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, we believe you owe the men and women and their families who so selflessly serve our country the decency to not make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices.

It's difficult to believe that the Joint Chiefs are actually thick enough to think Toles' cartoon was intended as a "callous depiction of those who have volunteered to defend this nation." Anyone who doesn't guzzle Kool Aid by the pitcher can plainly see the piece was a sizzling slap at Rumsfeld and his four star cronies whose policies and strategies have systematically dismembered the "best trained, best equipped" Army in the history of the world. If anything, Toles' depiction of the maimed soldier projects sympathy and support for the troops who have suffered under the lamentable stewardship of Rumsfeld and his yes men.

If you'd believe the Pentagon brass, no one at the top of the Department of Defense is responsible for the failures in its so called War on Terror. Anything that goes wrong is the fault of critics like Toles who, by calling civilian and uniformed military leadership to task for their carelessness and incompetence, are somehow subverting the morale of the folks in the trenches and giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy.

Whenever the administration and Pentagon pull this kind of Rovewellian propaganda trick, we need to review the facts.

The likes of Tom Toles did not formulate the Iraq policy in the nineties, nor did they cook the intelligence on Iraq to support the already decided upon invasion of it. The likes of Tole did not execute the invasion with too few troops in order to "prove" their pet theories about "force transformation," and they did not deny the existence of a full blown insurgency taking place until it was too late to contain it. The likes of Tole did not approve torture, nor did they neglect to provide the troops with proper body armor while continuing to pour national treasure into high dollar Buck Rogers weapons systems designed to fight the now defunct Soviet Union.

The likes of Rummy and his four-star sycophants did that. And time after time after time they've refuse to accept one ounce of responsibility for their own misdeeds and neglect, opting instead to point accusing fingers at the liberal media, their political opposition, the United Nations, the French, the Clintons, and whatever other scapegoat happens to be handy.

I have yet to see anyone of consequence who opposes the war lavish anything but praise on the performance of our troops. Their service has been honorable and brave, but the actions of their senior most leaders have been neither. Their behavior reminds you of the teenage kid who says it's not his fault he got caught shoplifting. It's Tommy's fault for telling on him.

What we wouldn't put up with from our children we continue to tolerate from our top government officials.

We need to stop doing that.


  1. Hi there. I came across your blog recently at Wampum. I'm a fellow nominee for the Best New Blog Koufax Award.

    You do some great work here, and I was actually wondering about swapping links in our blogrolls. My blog is The Reaction:

    And you can reach me at:

    In the meantime, keep up the great work.

  2. I recall an assessment of Watergate, around 1980: the gist was that, 6 years after Nixon resigned, too many people still thought Nixon's only crime was breaking the 11th Commandment (don't get caught).

    The tragedy is that Nixon's abuses of power have become today's Handbook for How to Govern. It's a short list of rules, and at or near the top is -- "blame the victim; blame the critic; change the subject; but never EVER take responsibility (unless it happens to be something you can win with)."

  3. Bing-freaking-oh, Jeff. Neo-Machiavellianism at its best.

  4. "blame the victim; blame the critic; change the subject; but never EVER take responsibility (unless it happens to be something you can win with)."

    The essence of Rovewellianism, Jeff.

  5. Anonymous5:39 PM

    Two words: Long War.

    Very creepy. Why so many people cannot understand the basics of the manufacturing and marketing of this never-ending war is just beyond me.

    Re: Tole. It's the same question I asked awhile back ... with all the weaponry a nation could ever hope for and more, they're threatened by writers, peace activists and cartoonists?


  6. Kerstin,


  7. Barndog5:20 AM

    I'm really shocked that General Pace did this all on his own. I did extensive research on him before he was 'elevated to CJCS'.

    I must say, he is one impressive Marine. As the Late Col. Hackworth would say, a 'perfumed prince' - but not nearly so much as many in those levels.

    That's why I'm having great difficulty believing he did this on his own accord.

    However, his name is on the letter (which could be B.S.) - Rovewellian ethics tell me that...
    the tip off is the razor sharp line between outright censorship an blatant propoganda.

    If you can explain where that line seperates, I'll buy you a ham sammich. Your choice of bread.

    I'll even use the good mustard. Or - real mayo.. ho-made if you so choose. (I'm like that)

    Semper Fidelis

  8. Barndog,

    As always, I respect your opinion, but I see little chance that I'll warm up to pace. He's been part of the admin and the Pentagon hierarchy since day one, and hand picked Rumsfeld man.