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.