Cartoonist defends “battle hardened” cartoon from Joint Chiefs

A political cartoon reportedly intended as commentary on the state of the Army, published in Sunday’s Washington Post, drew fire from the Joint Chiefs of Staff today.

The cartoon shows a quadruple amputee in a hospital bed with “Dr. Rumsfeld” standing beside him, saying, “I’m listing your condition as ‘battle hardened.'” Below, in smaller type, “Rumsfeld” says, “I’m prescribing that you be stretched thin. We don’t define that as torture.”

The cartoon drew a rare joint letter from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Led by Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and signed by the vice chief and the senior officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, the letter addressed what the leaders agreed was a “callous” cartoon. The Post published the letter today.

While The Post and some of its readers may not agree with the war or its conduct, these men and women and their families are owed the decency of not having a cartoon make light of their tremendous physical sacrifices.

As the joint chiefs, we rarely put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered. — Joint Chiefs of Staff

The cartoonist, Tom Toles, wasn’t at all surprised.

In an interview, Toles called the letter “an understandable response” but said he did not regret what he drew. In thinking about Rumsfeld’s remarks, he said, “what came soon to mind was the catastrophic level of injuries the Army and members of the armed services have sustained . . . I thought my portrayal of it was a fair depiction of the reality of the situation.

“I certainly never intended it to be in any way a personal attack on, or a derogatory comment on, the service or sacrifice of American soldiers.” — Washington Post

Is the military stretched too thin? Is this cartoon offensive, or painfully relevant? Let me know what you think.

See also coverage from Army News Service.

One thought on “Cartoonist defends “battle hardened” cartoon from Joint Chiefs

  • August 22, 2007 at 1:14 am

    I am an officer in Baghdad today. Our sons and daughters are over here fighting for people to live in freedom. Do you know what freedom is? You take it for granted. Do you have running water? Do you have electricity? Can you go to the market without worrying about your safety? Do you not have compassion for people? I have spent time with Iraqi families and their children, and I see what these insurgents (crime lords) do with innocent people. We are standing for justice. We are not fighting a communist idea like Vietnam, we are fighting agaisnt corruption under the giest of religion. It is a horrible trajedy when each of our Soldier’s are injured. I know all too well the pain. But our job isn’t one of pleasantries, it is one of horror because our world doesn’t stand up for what is right anymore.

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