February 06, 2003
Pro-war cartoons

Barry points to this piece by Dirk Deppey which asks "Where are the pro-war editorial cartoons?". Dirk in turn was inspired by this Indian Express story:

"Empty warheads" is how an American cartoonist recently described Washingtonís war planners. The rest of the doodling gang hasnít been any kinder. In fact, American cartoonists seem to be orchestrating a campaign against their presidential wisdom to attack Iraq. Not a single cartoon even obliquely pro-war has been sighted.

What accounts for this unusual herd instinct among the cartooning tribe? Unusual, because cartoonists normally present a variety of views. They are no less divided on politics, economics and ecology than the rest of the media and the readers. Some love to target the Republican elephant and some the Democratic donkey and some gun for the visual hybrid of the two. And many canít escape the occupational hazard of contradicting themselves over weeks and months of having to combat the newsbreak of the day.

The writer notes that cartoonists are not inherently pacifistic, as the World War II experience clearly demonstrated. He goes on to make a distinction between anti-Saddam cartoons and pro-war ones:

What has changed since [World War II]? The Vietnam simile doesnít hold either. Saddam is no Ho Chi Minh. He isnít a much more desirable human specimen than Hitler or Mussolini and is an equally caricaturable target. The cartoonist does attack him but he spares the enemyís enemy no less. More than war itself it is the collateral damage to a free society that comes with it that bothers the cartoonist.

With all that in mind, and since Dirk says he hasn't seen any such cartoons recently, I spent a little time looking for pro-war editorial cartoons. Mostly, I went to the Cagle Collection at Slate. It was certainly easy enough to find anti-Saddam cartoons here. Many of these have as a theme the uselessness of inspections and/or the UN. Given that this is a major part of the pro-invasion argument, then surely at some point this message becomes more than just a Saddam-is-bad one. We have examples of Saddam resisting inspections (here and here), inspectors being incompetent (here and here), the inspection process itself being a waste of time (here), and Saddam being very tricky about hiding weapons (here, here, and here).

Such cartoons may not seem like they're directly pro-invasion, but if their point is that inspections can't or won't do the job, then what else is there? Of course, the idea is really driven home in cartoons like this one, which would fit right in on the most hawkish of blogs.

As this cartoon by Cagle himself from February 5 attests, there are cartoonists who believe that the administration has made its case. If this isn't a pro-war editorial cartoon, there ain't no such thing.

And of course, no discussion of pro-war cartoonists is complete without mentioning the LA Times' master of subtlety, Michael Ramirez. His Feb 6 cartoon is similar in nature to the one linked in the last paragraph, and there are at least a half-dozen other examples of invasion boosterism since December 15. You can be sure there'll be plenty more in the future.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 06, 2003 to Other punditry | TrackBack

Wow, Chuck! You really do you homework. Kudos. The Ramirez link was excellent: I immediately posted one of his cartoons to my blob, one of a nature I think you and I would both agree on.


Posted by: B. K. Oxley (binkley) on February 6, 2003 1:44 PM

Ramirez cartoon of Saddam with a Dean button was over the top. It was about as funny as the one with Cheney dressed like Hitler with a Bush dummy on his knee. Grow up.

Posted by: sdarrow on December 17, 2003 4:11 PM