Category Archives: Contemporary Cartoons

Posts about contemporary cartoons, created during the Fall 2016 semester

UN Response to Syrian Humanitarian Crisis

A man representing the United Nations holds a document titled ceasefire to Bashar al-Assad's head, as Assad simultaneously points a gun at a small child's head.
A man representing the United Nations holds a document titled ceasefire to Bashar al-Assad’s head, as Assad simultaneously points a gun at a small child’s head.

Nate Beeler’s cartoon, published in May of 2012, satirizes the role of the United Nations in preventing humanitarian crimes incited by the Syrian regime, lead by Bashar al-Assad. In this cartoon, a figure symbolizing the United Nations(UN) stands behind Assad holding a “ceasefire,” as one might hold a gun, to Assad’s head. As the man symbolizing the UN holds out the ceasefire, he yells out “BANG!” Simultaneously, Assad stands behind a young Syrian child, except instead of holding a ceasefire to the young girl’s head, he holds a real gun. Assad stands with his back to the UN, facing the little girl, while the little girl faces forward with fearful eyes.

In 2011, political uprisings began to form across Syria in opposition to Bashar al Assad’s regime and his oppressive policies, especially those regarding freedom of expression. These uprisings eventually grew in power and entered Damascus, the center of Syrian government power, where they were met with violence. For several years following 2011, these uprisings grew more vocal, even though “opposition armed forces consisted of diverse groups with varying ideology and goals,” and no one group became the clear face of the rebel movement (“Syria” 2348). After a few years of ongoing conflict between the Syrian Government and its citizens, the Islamic State(IS), an insurgent terrorist group operating in several Middle Eastern countries, began to gain power in Syria, although IS operated in opposition to both rebel forces and those aligned with Assad (2348). This exacerbated the social and political unrest that already existed in the region, and as of September 2013, more than 2 million Syrian citizens have fled the country as refugees (2348).

In the face of this growing humanitarian crisis, the United States, the European Union, and the UN have all spoken out against the conflict in this region, and the means by which it has been addressed. In 2013, in the midst of international outrage in response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians (rebel and non-rebel forces alike), the United States called on the UN to try Assad before and International Criminal Court for his many war crimes, including supporting “weapon of mass destruction proliferation,” and the “August 21, 2013, chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs” (159 Cong Rec S 6298). Since 2013, the UN has responded to Assad’s war crimes by issuing several sanctions and ceasefires, as depicted in Nate Beeler’s cartoon. While Assad has in the past publicly assured the UN and the world that he will no longer employ chemical weapons, this has been disproven by continued attacks against rebel forces and innocent civilians.

These false promises mirror the false diplomatic promises made by Italy to the League of Nations and the world after the conclusion of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War. In 1936, Italy promised to use their Ethiopian conquest as a means to “strengthen the league” (Knott editorial), whereas in reality, Italy undermined the powers of the League, and instead helped incite its eventual deterioration. In a similar manner, Assad publicly acknowledged sanctions from the UN, yet continued to use weapons against his people. This complete disregard for the actions taken by the UN have diminished international faith in the UN’s ability to prevent conflict, especially considering the Syrian conflict exists on a more local scale than most international conflicts. In the same way the image of the League deteriorated following the Italy’s betrayal, so too has the image of the United Nations deteriorated as a result of the conflict in Syria. In Nate Beeler’s cartoon, Assad takes on the same villainous, far-too-powerful caricature as Mussolini in John Knott’s “Drunk with Power,” except instead of drinking in celebration of his power, he stands with a gun to a child’s head while the United Nations, the protector of international welfare, stands idly by, much in the same powerless manner as Britain and France in Knott’s cartoon.

Modern day issues of security that exist within Syria have significant ties to the decisions made in the aftermath of World War II. For example, when Assad came into power in 2000, he supported a strong stance against Israel (Moubayed). Internal conflict in the Middle East is a direct result of opposition to decisions made by the United Nations regarding Israel in the late 1940s. Additionally, after WWII, Syria became a state in which government limited freedom of speech and oppressed its people. While Assad brought in a new age of leadership, and may have allowed for increased freedom of speech when compared to his father’s regime, his employment of chemical weapons is reminiscent of post World War II oppression in Syria.

Since the establishment of the League of Nations in the aftermath of WWI, many countries have held international organizations like the League of Nations, and the modern day version, the United Nations, responsible for humanitarian conflict and crises, and in some cases, these organizations have been held accountable for not doing enough to end conflict and prevent war. We must keep the past in mind as we evaluate the future of the conflict in Syria.

Works Cited

Beeler, Nate. The Columbus Dispatch. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2016. <http://www.dispatch.com/content/cartoons/2012/05/beeler0531.html>.

“Syria.” Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2016. Ed. Karen Ellicott. Vol. 2. Detroit: Gale, 2016. 2342-2358. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.

159 Cong Rec S 6298

Moubayed, Sami. “Syria’s New President Bashar Al-Assad: A Modern-Day Attaturk.” The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs XIX.9 (2000): 31. ProQuest. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

The Drought in California

CARTOON
A Californian tourist mistakes the San Joaquin Valley and a farmer for Death Valley because of the strikingly dry climate.

A frightening and frequent image that has been broadcasted across all forms of media since 2011 is the fast-spreading wildfires that have torn through California. The blazes that are displacing California residents are caused by the state’s severe drought. Over 99 percent of the state is abnormally dry, 71 percent is experiencing severe drought, and 46 percent is in exceptional drought (AccuWeather.com). The extreme climate that California is going through is putting a stress on the fresh water supply, creating ideal conditions for menacing wildfires and creating difficulties for agriculture.

Researchers believe that the drought is caused by a large mass of warm water that has moved near the California Coast. “La Niña,” the counterpart part of “El Niño,” is believed to have started the drought cycle (Koons). A high-pressure system touching the California Coast. The system causes storms to be redirected to other regions, limiting the amount of rainfall reaching California. California also relies on snow melting off mountains throughout the year. The high-pressure system cause a two to seven-degree Fahrenheit increase in the atmosphere, causing most precipitation to come down as water instead of snow. Due to the water management techniques in California, heavy snowfall is more beneficial than heavy rainfall (Koons).

One solution proposed by residents and officials was to limit water consumption by 25 percent. Eventually California Governor, Jerry Brown instituted mandatory water restrictions in June of 2015. Rivers and lakes had become so low that the tightest fishing regulations in the history of the state were implemented because species of fish were becoming endangered.

Over 100 million trees died from the drought in between 2011 and 2017. Although some of the area was devastated, northern California began to emerge from the drought in 2016. By the end of the year, over 30 percent of the state was not considered to be experiencing drought, and 40 percent remained in extreme or exceptional levels of drought. 2017 finally began to see heavy rainfall. Northern water reserves began to fill and outlook began to look better after 6 years of struggle (Koons).

A consistent weather pattern has allowed a majority of the state to emerge from drought. Rain storms have been persistently hitting all parts of the state, and snow fall is well above the yearly average. By the end of February over 60 percent of the state was considered to not be in a drought. It was not until April 7, 2017 that Governor Brown that the drought had finally ended.

Aside from environmental concerns, the economic implications of the drought have been devastating for California. Agriculture accounts for nearly 30 billion dollars of Gross Domestic Product for the state. Ever since the beginning of the drought, the state has lost billions of dollars due to the implications that came from a water shortage. Even after some of the state had begun to recover from the drought in 2016, California farmers still lost over 600 million dollars. Nearly 80,000 acres of farmland was fallowed after the 500,000 that was lost in 2015. The drought also cost nearly 2,000 farming jobs for the state. Agriculture uses over 80 percent of water in California, so the drought demanded there be changes in use. The most crucial farming areas that have struggled during the drought are found in the San Joaquin Valley (Koons).

The cartoon, The Fried West (Horsey), depicts a tourist in California believing she is visiting Death Valley. She is referring to the desert valley found in Eastern California. It is one of the hottest destinations in the world during the summer, comparable to Africa and the Middle East. The region is famous for its desolate and dry appearance. The farmer responds to the woman by informing her he is a farmer in the San Joaquin Valley. As previously mentioned, the valley is historically known for its bountiful production of agricultural products. Although it is hyperbolizing, the cartoon suggests that the drought in California is so brutal that a once fruitful region has become as bare and dry as one of the most famous deserts in the in the world. The cartoonist aims to inform the public about how bleak outlook has become, and the drought is not only devastating to the environment but also to individuals attempting to earn a livable income.

Horsey’s cartoon above and the previous Knott cartoon entitled The Salvation of Your Soil, regarding the impact over-cultivation had on farmers in the past, are similar by how they represent the struggle of the American farmer. Events such as the collapse of the cotton industry in the 1920s or the drought in California display the reasons the federal and state governments subsidize farming.  Farming is such an integral part of the economy, however there is a constant battle to be profitable. The separation of time between the cartoon is an indicator that the battle for farmers to produce a suitable amount of crop and earn a livable income is constant and never-ending struggle.

Citations:

Koons, Stephanie. “California’s Drought Is Over, but Water Conservation Remains a ‘way of Life’.” Local

 Weather from AccuWeather.com – Superior Accuracy™. N.p., 28 Apr. 2017. Web. 03 May 2017.

Horsey. “The Fried West.” True Democracy Party, 16 Sept. 2014, truedemocracyparty.net/2014/09/california-mega-drought. Accessed 16 June  2017.

Five Year Anniversary

Nate Beeler's cartoon depicts the 5th anniversary since the Stimulus Package, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was signed into legislation, and how the act was a waste of money.
Nate Beeler’s cartoon depicts the 5th anniversary since the Stimulus Package, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was signed into legislation, and how the act was a waste of money.

In the political cartoon “Five Year Anniversary,” by Nate Beeler, five stacks of one hundred dollar bills are set on fire on top of a cake that reads “2009 Stimulus.” The five candles represent the Stimulus Package’s, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, five years of age upon being signed into legislation by Barack Obama in 2009. Beeler’s cartoon depicts the idea that the ARRA wasted money rather than pushing the economy out of the Great Recession.

In December 2007, the United States experienced a time of rising unemployment and declining GDP (gross domestic product) that lasted until 2009. This period was dubbed the Great Recession due to the severity of the negative impacts. The U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research defines a recession as a “period of at least two consecutive quarters of declining levels of economic activity” (Krabbenhoft), and during the time span between 2007 and 2009 GDP decreased by 3.5 percent and the unemployment rate increased more than 5 percent. The gross domestic product indicates the total value of goods and services produced over a period of time, so production and consumer spending decreased drastically. The government attempted to alleviate the unemployment rate and increase economic growth by creating what’s known as a multiplier effect. The multiplier effect occurs when there is an increase in final income from the increase in spending from the initial stimulus. Consumer expenditures make up 70 percent of GDP, and increasing consumer expenditures would create this effect, for consumption leads to the selling of goods and so on. Business investments are also a main component of GDP, and providing business incentives to increase the level of investment was also critical to alleviating the economy. With these two conditions kept in mind, President Bush signed the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 into legislation. The ESA consisted of 3 provisions: the first provision provided a tax rebate for taxpayers while the second and third provided tax incentives to businesses to stimulate business investment. Unfortunately, consumer spending did not increase as the government hoped it would. Many households preferred to keep their money in their savings rather than spend it or pay their debts; thus, the multiplier effect did not take off. The tax incentives for businesses were also ineffective because the success was minimal and did not improve the economy; therefore, the ESA was failed, but it inspired a new act that was created by the next president, Barack Obama.

After becoming president, Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 into legislation. The ARRA allowed people to keep a larger segment of their paychecks, provided tax credits for homebuyers, college expenses, and home improvements. Essentially, people got more than a single rebate and had more of an incentive to increase consumer spending. The ARRA also provided money for the government to improve health care, education, and infrastructure in order to create more jobs for the public and decrease the unemployment rate. Despite these efforts, the economy continued declining; however, GDP increased slightly during the third quarter of 2009 and fourth quarter of 2013, but unemployment continued to increase. Although the ARRA played on the idea of the multiplier effect, it did not work because people either lost hope during the recession and stopped looking for jobs or used their money in ways the government didn’t intend. The ARRA had good intentions, but nothing occurred the way the government believed or wanted it to happen. This relates to John Knott’s cartoon, “What’s the Next Play Going to Be?” because of the naive thought that people would comply with what higher officials wanted them to do; in the end, people spent money the way they wanted to spend it or stopped trying to find a job whenever hope was lost. It is difficult to bring an economy out of a recession or decrease the unemployment rate immediately, and it takes time for such drastic changes to occur because people do not have unanimous opinions. Ultimately, the ARRA failed just as the NRA had due to the difficulty in governing people’s actions. The failure of the ARRA  and the NRA also expressed the theme that assuming what an entire nation of people would do is naive because people do not act or think similarly, and it is not safe to predict how millions of people would behave, especially during a crisis.

The irony behind the cartoon lies behind the fact that the anniversary of the Stimulus Package was being celebrated despite how negatively people viewed it. It is celebrated because the White House believed the ARRA was good for the economy, but many others thought otherwise as indicated by the burning money. Beeler’s cartoon depicts both standpoints, but the main focus is on how disfavored the ARRA was as shown by making the burning bills the focal point of the cartoon. 

Nate Beeler’s political cartoon “Five Year Anniversary,” stresses how much of a fail the ARRA was due to the amount of money it dissipated. Many efforts were put in to save the economy, but the government did not consider the fact that some households or businesses wouldn’t comply with their intentions. The government was unable to dictate the people’s actions, ultimately leading to the collapse of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Citations:

Krabbenhoft, Alan G. “Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” Encyclopedia of Business and Finance, 3rd ed., vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2014, pp. 234-236. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Accessed 28 Nov. 2016.

Unions

Messages Image(3132875950)The political cartoon Unions by David Fitzsimmons uses well recognized connotations to depict civil tension that still remains today much like it did during the Great Depression. This cartoon captures how the GOP continues to take more and more from public servants, claiming everyone must sacrifice, yet the rich seem to get richer.  As is reflected with the theme of the John Knott cartoon Nice Kitty, Nice Doggie, this cartoon conveys the same message as the one portrayed almost 80 years ago: socioeconomic tension leads to civil unrest.

Though the United States emerged from the Great Depression into an economic upswing (Steindyl 1). The feeling of unease seems to be a cyclical trend that political cartoonists can expound upon no matter the decade. In our current economy, public servants, such as teachers seem to be having more and more of their rights restricted. In 2015 the GOP proposed a cut of 5 billion dollars to America’s educational system (Brown 10). Yet after the GOP decided that educational funding would be cut, they also seemed to find a way to help themselves. For example, recently President Trump released a tax plan that one journalist described as a plan that “would be ridiculously good for rich people” (Carter). This new plan cuts top tier business taxes from 39 to 15%. Furthermore, it proposes an elimination of the alternative minimum tax. This would cut our own presidents federal income tax from 37 to 5 million. (Sahadi 4). The outrage of this disparity is what cartoon illustrator David Fitzsimmons conveys with his witty cartoon.

As Knott depicted the right to unionize in Nice Kitty, Nice Doggie published in 1938, Fitzsimmons depiction reflects our countries’ current economic struggles.  While there are many differences between the two, there are also similarities to be found. Though much has changed in our country in the past 80 years, economic uncertainty continues to effect unions and their influence upon government (Kebbi 4). While the labor unions in Knott’s cartoon were fighting for the right to unionize, teachers unions today have used their right to unionize to influence policy and form political action comities.  (Teacher Unions). It appears as though Knots cartoon highlighted the struggles of earning the right to unionize, while Fitzsimons depicts that, even though the right to unionize has been won, unions are still a threat to big government.

Comparing Knott’s and Fitzsimmons’ political cartoon demonstrates that the humor has not really changed, however the imagery used to tell the cartoonists’ story has evolved. In today’s society, poking fun at political figures as just as humorous today as it was in the 1930’s. In Knott’s cartoon the image of a housewife used to portray Secretary Perkins is central to the cartoons theme. However, if used today, the depiction of a housewife with an apron would no longer be relevant, verging on offensive. Conversely, using well known imagery to provide connation is just as prevalent today as it was in the 1930’s. Knott uses a cat and dog fight to depict the rising tension, while Fitzsimmons uses a bulbous elephant to depict the GOP. Rather than towering above the public servant the elephant is at eye level, diminishing his power. This growing disdain for republican controlled congress could be a reflection on the proposed voucher system which will gravely effect public school funding (Lauter 2.)

In both cartoons the artists seem to both have to portray an antagonist. In John Knott’s cartoon, he portrays the aggressor “Industry” as the antagonist. However, in Fitz’s cartoon he portrays the antagonist to be the rich man standing in the back. One thing to be noticed is how Fitzsimmons’s draws the clothing of both of these figures. The public servant is in baggy clothes and just a white t shirt, on the opposite end we see the rich man in a very nice tailored tux. This portrayal highlights how these cuts effect both parties even down to the way the dress. This can even be known when looking at an article by Lam that states in a very recent study done that the top 1 percent of Americans still hold 20 percent of the nation’s wealth.

Fitzsimmon’s political cartoon Unions demonstrates that unrest between the public servants of the middle class and the elites in government are still prevalent in modern society. As John Knott once portrayed with his political cartoons, we can assume that civil unrest will not cease until socioeconomic tension is dispelled.

References

Dallas Morning News. Nice Kitty, Nice Doggie. 1938. Print.

Fitzsimmons, David. Unions. 2017. Print.

Kebbi, Yann. “The Decline Of Unions And The Rise Of Trump”. NY Times 2016. Web. 26 Apr. 2017.

Kirkpatrick, David. “Teachers Unions”. Encyclopedia of Education 2002: 2475-2482. Print.

Lam, Bourree. “How Much Wealth and Income Does America’s 1 Percent Really Have?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 12 Mar. 2016. Web. 14 May 2017.

Lauter, David. “Education: Trump Wants More Money For Vouchers, Cuts Elsewhere”. LA Times 2017. Web. 22 Apr. 2017.

Steindl, Frank. “Economic Recovery In The Great Depression”. : 1. Print.

Strikes Against Walmart Lead to Legal Action

 

Discrepancy in status of Walmart heirs and Walmart employees leads to strikes against Walmart. (Bagely)

This cartoon by Pat Bagely was published on November 19, 2013 and refers to the poor treatment of Walmart workers, as well as shows support for those who went on strike due to these conditions. On of the most famous strikes occured on November 29, 2013 by workers at Walmart because it is notoriously anti-union, doesn’t provide healthcare to about half of their workers, and does not adequately pay their workers (Weissman). Sixteen people were fired from their jobs at Walmart for striking, but an administrative judge ruled that the workers be allowed back and compensated for their time (Malcom). Walmart has cited the laws created which rule strikes illegal in the National Labor Relation Act in order to justify its actions and is still fighting a legal battle to this day (Malcom).

In this cartoon, there are two juxtaposing sides. One, labelled “Walmart Heirs”, depicts a clearly affluent woman named Christy auctioning off a painting of a can of soup. In order to understand this image, one must first know who “Christy” is.  Christy Walton is the widow of John T. Walton, one of sons of Sam Walton (the founder of Walmart)  (“Christy Walton”).  As of today, she is currently one of the wealthiest women in the world (“Christy Walton”).  What further establishes the idea of providence on this side of the cartoon is the specific painting being referenced. The cartoonist is alluding to the painting by the famous artist Andy Warhol (his name can be seen scrawled under the image of the can of soup) titled Campbell’s Soup Cans. This painting last sold for 11.7 million dollars (Heinrich). Clearly, the cartoonist is attempting to represent the amount of wealth linked to the Walmart brand.

The other side of the cartoon, labelled Walmart employees, stands in stark contrast to the left side of the cartoon. It depicts a disheveled woman in a break room picking through a bin labelled “food donation for hungry fellow workers”. In her hand is a can of what looks to be Campbell’s soup. This is clearly a commentary on the inadequate pay for Walmart workers, because it is suggesting that they can barely afford a can of soup. Additionally, the security camera conveys the idea that the workers are constantly under surveillance and have little room for error despite inadequate pay and awful working conditions. The humor in this cartoon is clearly derived from the wealth discrepancy between the two sides of the cartoon. While on one hand, the Walmart heirs are capable of possessing a painting of a can of soup worth 11.7 million dollars, Walmart employees are barely able to afford an actual can of soup, which are worth approximately 2 dollars. Because this cartoon was published in the midst of the Walmart strikes, it is an expression of the opinion that workers went on strike for good reason, and deserve to have their needs met.

While it is easy to understand the cartoon at a surface level by ascertaining that Walmart heirs are rich and Walmart employees are poor, it is beneficial to know how these conditions came to be and why they were eventually met with such discontent. One aspect which contributed to these feelings is Walmart’s continuous anti-union sentiment. For many years, Wal-Mart has taken a fiercely antagonistic stance towards organized labor, keeping its stores union free by using every ounce of leverage Congress has given employers — so much so that, in 2007, Human Rights Watch called the company “‘a case study in what is wrong with U.S. labor laws.” (Weissman).  Walmart kept its workers in constant fear of joining unions, and was not afraid to take extreme actions in order to keep it that way. One example of this is when a group of Texas butchers voted to unionize in 2000, the company responded to the only successful U.S. union drive in its history by switching to selling pre-packaged meat company wide (Weissman). No more butchers.

As a result of this anti-union sentiment, Walmart has managed to keep pay and working conditions less than ideal. The median retail worker for a large chain earns $14.42 an hour, but independent analysis pegs the figure much lower for Walmart, closer to $9 (Hiltzik). This is not a living wage. Across the country, many employees of Walmart were living at or below the poverty line. In 2009, Ohio officials disclosed that more than 15,200 Wal-Mart employees in the state were receiving Medicaid, and 12,700 were on food stamps (Hiltzik). In 2013, a company executive disclosed that more than 475,000 of its employees earned more than $25,000 a year (Hiltzik). Unfortunately, this means that half of a million people were earning wages which put them below the poverty line.

In response to their treatment by Walmart, employees gathered together to form OUR Walmart, an employee advocacy group focused on pressuring Walmart to improve pay and working conditions (Eidelson). When workers went on strike on November 29, 2013, sixteen employees were eventually fired due to their participation in the strike (Malcom). Upon investigation, it was found that Walmart’s actions against striking employees was a direct violation of labor laws (Malcom). This reveals a direct correlation to the cartoon “Not a Good Place to Sit” by John Knott. In both cases, an issue was brought to the National Labor Relations Board due to strikes caused by inadequate pay and bad working conditions. Because of the legislation set up in the era of the John Knott cartoon in response to the General Motors strikes, it was ruled that Walmart was not legally allowed to fire employees simply because they were striking (Malcom). Had the employees been subject to the laws presented by Texas Senator Dies in the 1930’s, they would have been fired without dispute. Because the laws have changed since then, strikers are protected in the way of employment and felony charges. However, Walmart is still trying to find loopholes in the National Labor Relations Act in order to justify their actions (Malcom).  As a result, the legal battle between Walmart and its employees continues to this day.

In Conclusion, this cartoon is a show of support for those workers who went on strike and continue to fight Walmart in court. It points out the clear disparity between the owners and the employees of Walmart, and alludes to much deeper issues. Finally, it provides a direct correlation between the labor laws established in the late 1930’s and those which we have today, and how they aid or harm workers when they go face to face with an extremely powerful company such as General Motors or Walmart. One day, we may see the fault in actions taken against workers which have time and time again resulted in discontent and copious amounts of legal work. This shows that issues we had more than half a century ago are still unresolved and need to be seriously reconsidered if we are to look towards a more desirable future for our nation’s workers.

 

Bagely, Pat. “Walmart Welfare Queens.” Cagle Post. Cagle, 19 Nov.
2013. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.

“Christy Walton.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 2 Jan. 2017. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Heinrich, Will. “$71 Million Can’t Be Wrong! ‘Andy Warhol Colored Campbell’s Soup Cans’ at L&M Arts.” Observer. Observer, 01 June 2011. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.

Hiltzik, Michael. “Wal-Mart’s Raise Underscores the Poor Condition of Most Low-wage Workers.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 19 Feb. 2015. Web. 23 Dec. 2016.

Eidelson, Josh September. “Walmart Workers Plan ‘Widespread, Massive Strikes and Protests’ for Black Friday 2013.” The Nation. The Nation, 29 June 2015. Web. 9 Jan. 2017.

Malcolm, Hadley. “Judge Rules Walmart Unlawfully Fired Workers on Strike.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 16 Dec. 2016.

Weissmann, Jordan. “Who’s Really to Blame for the Wal-Mart Strikes? The American Consumer.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 22 Nov. 2012. Web. 16 Feb. 2017.

 

The Texas Miracle

Rick perry dressed as Jesus appears to walk on water. He is actually being held up by people below the water with education cuts, uninsured, and minimum-wage workers on their shirts.
Cartoonist John Cole mocks Rick Perry’s attempts to keep Texas afloat.

The Texas Miracle, by John Cole is a political cartoon mocking Texas Governor Rick Perry for his comments on the well being of Texas and his presidential candidacy. It shows a man wearing a white robe and sandals with the word Perry on his robe. He appears to be walking on water, but directly under the surface are children and men holding him up. The people underneath Perry have “education cuts”, “uninsured”, and “Minimum wage workers” written on their shirts (Cole). The cartoon implies that Gov. Perry is not performing any miracles; he is both physically and metaphorically stepping on the groups of people underneath him. The Texas Miracle is similar to the John Knott cartoon, We’ve Survived Other Bad Storms, in that the subjects in the people depicted are in water, and this water is oppressing them. The “storm” that Knott used as an analogy for The Great Depression could also be parallel to the flood that Noah and his family escaped in the bible. However in The Texas Miracle the population was unable to escape the flood because of an ignorant deity.

The accompanying editorial, Walking on Water talks about Perry’s recent presidential candidacy, and why he appeals to the “mad-as-heck right-wing base”. The authors also talk about the not-so-miraculous Texas miracle (Editorial Team). The miracle that Perry claims to have caused is just Texas continuing to profit off of a new way to drill for oil called fracking, which harvests the oil through horizontal fractures and drilling (Krauss). The editorial also comments on how well the housing district is doing, again emphasizing that this was not Perry’s doing, “Much of what Perry lays claim to is not the result of his governance, but existed well before he took office.”

You may recognize the Phrase “Texas miracle” from President George W. Bush’s two thousand presidential campaign and his “No child Left Behind” education reform act (Leung). The act was plan to make teachers accountable for their students’ grades, and required standardized testing for all students, while attempting to lower drop out rates in Houston especially. The program had great success in the first year but it was too good to be true. A vice principal at Sharpstown High School, found there were no drop-outs in the two thousand one two thousand two school year, when in fact there were four hundred and sixty two drop outs. The system had made a code for when a student dropped out it was programmed as a transfer or other acceptable reasons, so the miracle was just a lie. Just like Bush, Perry took advantage of the natural strength of Texas and used it for his own benefit. “According to The American Statesman, almost half of the state’s job growth came in the education, health care, and government sectors”, but when the state was faced with a twenty seven million dollar deficit Perry took four billion from K-12 schools. Already suffering as one of the least educated states, Perry stepped on education so that Texas would have less debt, and Texas suffered for it.

Texas’ population was been growing more rapidly than any other state from nineteen ninety to two thousand eleven this is in part due to the oil boom, but Perry found a way to make this benefit him (Plumer). Perry brags that Texas has a low unemployment rate but in fact at the time it was just a tenth lower than the national average, and the majority of those workers are working for minimum wage, which means that they have little or no insurance from their job (Meyerson). To add onto that Perry Doesn’t would prefer the states control of minimum wage and opposes the increase of minimum wage, claiming to be protecting the small businesses (Selby). At this time Texas was also the most uninsured state in the country, with twenty six percent of the population uninsured, Rick Perry still resisted universal healthcare. Perry said “They did not want a large government program forcing everyone to purchase insurance”, which may be the case, but this works well with Perry’s views on minimum wage and his refusal to increase the Medicaid (Benen). You see if Texans make less than four thousand five hundred dollars a year they can apply for Medicaid, but if they make less than eleven thousand six hundred dollars a year they are too poor to buy insurance for themselves (Damico). This is called the Medicaid expansion gap, and Rick Perry walked all over the people in this gap just to make the state more profitable.

A few parallels can be made between The Texas miracle and We’ve Survived Other Bad Storms, the major one being the water. In both cartoons the water is rising, because Rick Perry has no intention of changing his policies and will continue to take money from education. The water is also rising on the two business men while they converse in the storm, which was also brought on by the government’s inflation during the twenties. We’ve Survived Other Bad Storms could also have a religious aspect to it, where Herbert Hoover, who was blamed for The Great Depression, could be seen as an ignorant deity. As he told the public over and over that the depression would pass, doing little or nothing to help the floundering public, while the floodwaters continue to rise leaving the population without an ark. In both cartoons the public is the victim of the governments poor choices and both cartoonists depict their suffering through water.

The Texas Miracle by John Cole is mocking Rick Perry’s foolish attempts to take credit for the relative low amount of debt that Texas is in. The cartoon and editorial both ridicule him for refusing to help those beneath him, calling him a lone star blustering bible thumper. The Texas Miracle illustrates just how unlike Jesus Rick Perry truly is, and what lengths he is willing to go to in order to make a profit for the great state of Texas.

Works Cited

Benen, Steve. “Perry Boasts about Texas’ Uninsured Rate.” MSNBC. NBCUniversal News Group, 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Cole, John. “John Cole Cartoons » Walking on Water.” John Cole Cartoons » Walking on Water. The Time Tribune, 18 Aug. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Damico, Oct 19 2016 | Rachel Garfield and Anthony. “The Coverage Gap: Uninsured Poor Adults in States That Do Not Expand Medicaid.” Kaiser Family Foundation – Health Policy Research, Analysis, Polling, Facts, Data and Journalism. WordPress.com, 19 Oct. 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Editorial Team. “John Cole Cartoons » Walking on Water.” John Cole Cartoons » Walking on Water. The Times Tribune, 18 Aug. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Krauss, Clifford. “Shale Boom in Texas Could Increase U.S. Oil Output.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 May 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Leung, Rebecca. “The ‘Texas Miracle'” CBSNews. CBS Interactive, 6 Jan. 2004. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Meyerson, Harold. “The Sad Facts behind Rick Perry’s Texas Miracle.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 16 Aug. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

New World Encyclopedia. “Texas.” Texas – New World Encyclopedia. New World Encyclopedia, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Pallardy, Richard. “Rick Perry.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 9 Nov. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Plumer, Brian. “Breaking down Rick Perry’s ‘Texas Miracle'” The Washington Post. WP Company, 15 Aug. 2011. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Selby, W. Gardner. “In 2014, Rick Perry Saying He Opposes Federal Government Setting Minimum Wage.” @politifact. Politifact.com, 30 May 2014. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

 

The Shrinking Royal Navy

 

A man in 17th century naval dress stands on a raft that is sinking in the middle of the sea. He wears a hat that reads, “From Nelson to Nothing in 200 Years.” As the sun sets behind him in a rowboat a sailor says, “The boy stood on the budget deck, the unrealistic commitments around his neck.”
A man in 17th century naval dress stands on a raft that is sinking in the middle of the sea. He wears a hat that reads, “From Nelson to Nothing in 200 Years.” As the sun sets behind him in a rowboat a sailor says, “The boy stood on the budget deck, the unrealistic commitments around his neck.”

 

The Shrinking Royal Navy, a political cartoon by Iain Green, was created on July 30th, 2013 in response to the news that the Royal Navy was letting go of their commitment to NATO because Great Britain’s budget could not afford it. As Horatio Nelson, a symbol of the once powerful British navy, is sinking, the sailormen of today salute him in farewell. Although the budget of the Royal Navy was continuing to weaken, Great Britain was losing control of their commitments as their ship, or raft, was going under.

The cartoon shows a man in 17th century naval dress, Horatio Nelson, standing on a raft that is sinking in the middle of the sea. The man has three medals hanging around his neck that appear to be weighing on him and a “For Sale” badge on his chest. He wears a hat that reads: “From Nelson to Nothing in 200 Years.” Behind the man, sitting in a rowboat are three faceless naval sailors. The sailor in the middle holds a small blue flag with the letters RN on it, meaning Royal Navy. The two sailors on either side are each holding their ores in attention, as the middle sailor says, “the boy stood on the budget deck, the unrealistic commitments around his neck.” Behind them, the flag of the Royal Navy called the White Ensign flies at half-mast mourning the death of the once greatest navy. In the background, many 17th century style ships line the horizon as the sun sets on them.

The commitments hanging around the naval officer’s neck are the Med, the Mediterranean Sea, the Atlantic, the Atlantic Ocean, and NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “Defence ministers have admitted the UK has been forced to pull out of key NATO naval defence groups in a sign of just how stretched the Royal Navy has become.” This quote from an article published on July 30th, 2013 in The Scotsman, Scotland’s National Newspaper, explains how the Royal Navy was no longer fulfilling their commitment to NATO in 2013. Further investigation revealed that they had been failing to provide their promised ships to the maritime group in the Mediterranean since 2010 (Maddox). The navy that once ruled the seas could no longer keep their commitments.

The Royal Navy has been around since 1660, and became recognized as the world’s dominant naval power after the Battle of Trafalgar led by Horatio Nelson on March 15th, 1805 (“Royal Navy History.”). In response to budget cuts in 1931, the Washington Post published a piece on the discontent saying, “For the first time in centuries the crew of a British fleet became recalcitrant this week on account of a reduction in pay, and put a stop to projected maneuvers” (“Britain’s Navy.”). This was not the last time that great Britain balanced the budget at the expense of the navy. In fact, the royal navy has been in a steady decline since the 1930’s (Kuehn). In 2013, when the cartoon was published, there were more admirals then ships (Gallagher). 

The Shrinking Royal Navy shows what has come of the Royal Navy since the start of the navy’s decline in 1931. John Francis Knott’s cartoon titled, “Well, I’ll Be Blowed!”  mocks the situation that Great Britain was in when their navy first started declining due to the budget cuts during the Great Depression. 

The cartoon, The Shrinking Royal Navy, pulls humor from Great Britain’s desperate pride of the navy that they used to have. It is humorous because people find the misfortune of others to be amusing as is explained by the Superiority Theory of Humor. Not only is the idea itself comedic, but the way it is portrayed. Green painted the greatest sea power sinking into the ocean as the sun sets on it’s reign. He also uses bright colors, rhyming in “deck” and “neck”, and the alliterations of “nelson” and “nothing” to make the situation seem trivial. All the way to the “For Sale” sign on his chest, mocking the cuts in the budget and with the flag at half-mast, the sailors in the background are in mourning of their precious navy.

Once the world’s greatest naval force, Great Britain’s sea power is not what it once was without the resources needed to fulfill their commitments and stay afloat. But as the sun is setting on the British sea power, the beauty of what once was shines reflected on the water.

 

Works Cited

“Britain’s Navy.” The Washington Post (1923-1954) Sep 17, Washington, D.C., 1931. http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/150090962?accountid=7118. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016.

Gallagher, Nicholas M. “When Britain Really Ruled the Waves.” The American Interest. The American Interest LLC, 14 Nov. 2014. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/11/14/when-britain-really-ruled-the-waves/.

Green, Iain. “The Shrinking of the Royal Navy.” Cagle.com, edited by Daryl Cagle, Cagle Cartoons, 4 Aug. 2013, www.cagle.com/iain-green/2013/08/the-shrinking-british-royal-navy. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016. Cartoon.

Kuehn, John T. “The Decline and Fall of British Sea Power May Not Be Over.” War on the Rocks. War on the Rocks, 05 Dec. 2015. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016. http://warontherocks.com/2015/12/the-decline-and-fall-of-british-sea-power-may-not-be-over/.

Maddox, David. “Royal Navy Pulls out of Nato Commitments.” The Scotsman. Johnson Publishing, 30 July 2013. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/royal-navy-pulls-out-of-nato-commitments-1-3020604.

“Royal Navy History.” Royalnavy.mod.uk. Royal Navy, 2014. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016. http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/features/history-timeline.

All in Favor of Joining Russia

cartoon

The military occupation of Ukrainian city Crimea by Vladimir Putin’s russian forces has caused unrest and tension between russian supporters and ukrainian loyalists. The conflict in Ukraine began in 2014 with the decline of an economic deal proposed by the European Union and has since escalated into military intervention.

Depicted in this contemporary political cartoon is a man being threatened by a tank. The man being confronted by the tank is old and dressed in casual clothes with a cap that looks European (for lack of a better term). The man is labeled Crimea and he has his arms raised above his head in surrender and looks alarmed. The man inside the tank is labeled Putin and looks down at the Crimean man threateningly, saying “All those in favor of joining Russia, raise their hands…”.

The beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict started with a proposed economic deal from the European Union. Ukrainians desired involvement with the stronger economies of Western Europe and the European Union wanted connections with more Eastern European economies. However, despite the benefits to both sides, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych started to express his doubts about the agreement. The Ukrainian people saw this hesitation as a sign that the president was giving in to President Vladimir Putin of Russia’s pressure to decline the EU’s deal, which he eventually did, accepting a different economic deal from Russia in it’s place.

This angered the people of Ukraine for two reasons: first, the majority of the population wanted to ally themselves with the more productive western economies, and second, the new agreement showed a strengthened alignment with Russia. Protests broke out in the capital city of Kiev, which was met with harsh retaliation from the Ukrainian government who sent in riot police and armed guards. Conflict between the the Pro-Russian groups and the Anti-Russian groups steadily increased. On April 15, 2014, Crimea, a center of Pro-Russian sentiment in Ukraine, was declared to be a territory under provisional occupation by the Russian military. This military occupation has continued into the present day of 2016. Currently the United Nations has condemned this occupation on the grounds that the condition of human rights has deteriorated in Crimea since the military forces took over.

The humor of this cartoon comes in the irony of Putin’s words. He is talking about Crimea joining Russia as if it was up to them, telling them to raise their hands if they agree. Judging just from his words, it sounds fair and democratic. However, the Crimean man is raising his hands out of fear and surrender, face to face with the gun part of the tank. There is brute force juxtaposed with the seemingly innocuous suggestion Putin makes. Putin offers a choice, but in reality there is no choice; the Crimean man must raise his hands or face possible death. The shock of the threat the tank poses elicits a humorous response from the reader, since it is incongruous with the compromising nature of Putin’s words.

Some elements that enhance the meaning of this cartoon include the clothes of Putin and the Crimean man, as well as their positions and the background of the illustration. Putin wears a black suit, appropriate for the office he holds, that gives off the suggestion of power and competence. This is contrasted with the simple clothes of the Crimean man, who wears a cap that is reminiscent of a stereotypical Eastern European peasant’s hat. He is lower class than Putin, and does not hold nearly the same amount of power. The simplicity of his attire suggests vulnerability. The background is filled with a smokey gray haze, creating an atmosphere of fear and dismay that reflects the attitude of the Crimean man. Putin’s thinly veiled demand for his country to join Russia does not bode well.

Works Cited

“Ukraine: Everything You Need to Know about How We Got Here.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

News, BBC. “Why Crimea Is so Dangerous.” BBC News. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

“UN Committee Condemns Russian Occupation of Crimea.” VOA. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Curran, John. “Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Explained.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

 

Russia Moves On Crimea

Cartoonist highlights the tension between Russia and Ukraine on territorial disputes over Crimea.
Cartoonist highlights the tension between Russia and Ukraine on territorial disputes over Crimea.

In Dave Granlund’s political cartoon, Russia Moves on Crimea, Crimea is shown to be in a dire situation following the Ukraine Crisis in 2013 which provided Russia advantages in claiming Crimea by making it appear as if Russia was able to assist Crimea in the middle of the crisis by annexing it. Russia is depicted as a bear, symbolizing the stereotype of Russia being “fierce and angry” and related to “frost” and “despotism” (Khrustalyov). In addition, Crimea is portrayed as a fish, the water as the Ukraine, and the dangerous features of the wave as the crisis. The political cartoon revolves around a political “tug-of-war” between Russia and Ukraine over who should rightfully have Crimea as a part of their nation (Ellicott). Although not a communist establishment anymore ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia still sought to expand, not ideologically as it did with communism, but territorially to grow as a larger superpower, which explains the reason why Russia sought to claim the Crimean Peninsula , an area that once belonged to it (Ellicott). At the time the cartoon was published on Granlund’s website, March 3rd, 2014, Crimea belonged to the Ukraine, yet Crimea was already leaning towards Russia since it seemed as if they could save the country from the crisis, hence the bear saying, “I’m saving you from drowning!” Furthermore, the grayish color tone of the cartoon highlights the seriousness of how the “tug-of-war” over Crimea was.

The Ukraine Crisis occurred as a result of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an association agreement with the European Union (EU) in November 2013 (Ellicott). Yanukovych was pro-Russian and the decision was made as a response to Russian threats to disrupt trade in order to keep Ukraine-Russian trade stable since Russians didn’t want the Ukraine to align more with Europe (Ellicott). However, it led to pro-EU protests in the Ukraine, which further led to pro-Russian influences triggering more “violent demonstrations” in the country (Ellicott). After failing to disperse these events, the Ukraine parliament sided with the protesters and voted Yanukovych out of office, after “four months of civil unrest and political deadlock between demonstrators and Yanukovych’s government” (Jalabi). Prior to this event, Ukraine-Russian relations were fairly calm since the two countries were trade partners and shared the similarity of once being a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Ellicott). However, as a result of Yanukovych being ousted for avoiding EU relations and trying to create closer ties with Russia, Russia reacted with “immediate hostility to the new pro-Western leadership” in the Ukraine, causing more tensions between the two countries. In addition, pro-Russian troops stormed into Crimea, influencing the peninsula into wanting to be a part of Russia as it was once Russian’s territory and already carried several pro-Russian citizens (Ellicott). It can be seen in Granlund’s cartoon that Crimea relied on Russia to rescue the country as the fish fearfully looks back at the wave representing the Ukraine Crisis and had no choice but to let the bear save it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that people of Crimea wanted to join Russia as a result of their repression by the government that “took power when Ukraine’s unpopular President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev”, the capital of Ukraine, in February of 2014 (US Official News). His claim proved to be true as Crimea held a referendum on March 16, 2014 that had 95 percent of voters favoring to secede from Ukraine and to be annexed by Russia with an 80 percent voter turnout (Schofield).

As a result, on March 18, 2014, Russia officially signed a treaty with Crimea to have it be annexed as a part of Russian territory once again (Ellicott). Granlund’s political cartoon displays this annexation as the bear saving the fish from drowning in the water, parallel to Russia saving Crimea from Ukraine.  However, the bear’s sharp teeth symbolized the force that Russia pressed on Crimea before the annexation. Russia approved military intervention and seized several areas in Crimea by force to counteract Ukraine’s military stationed in Crimea (Jalabi).

The political cartoon Russia Moves On Crimea by Granlund parallels with John Knott’s political cartoon, On Fertile Soil, over the vulnerability of China to Russian influence in the country in 1931. Both cartoons depict the idea of Russian expansion, even though Granlund’s cartoon primarily focused on territorial issues rather than ideological ones like in Knott’s cartoon over communism. The Russian government in Granlund’s cartoon differs from the government in Knott’s cartoon as time progressed and Soviet Union had fallen on December 26, 1991 as a result of communist leaders being incompetent and several countries overthrowing the communist government in their territories (Stock). After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation became its “successor state” in 1991 and pushed towards “democratic and economic reforms” and became more of a democratic government in 2014 as Russian officials were eventually chosen by elections (Ellicott). Even though not a communist country anymore as it was in 1931, Russia in 2014 sought to expand its territories by claiming areas such as Crimea to further build the power of its nation.

Further similarities of Knott and Granlund’s cartoons include how both foreshadowed events that were controversial at the time their cartoons were published. Knott’s cartoon predicted that communism will take over China as a result of Russian influence and the country’s unrest which proved to be true as the People’s Republic of China established a communist government influenced by the Soviet Union in 1949 (Hyer). Furthermore, at the time of Granlund’s cartoon, the debate over the annexation of Crimea by Russia was already leaning towards annexation as a result of the unrest that occurred in Ukraine in 2013 that affect Crimea’s stance in the middle of the “tug-of-war” (Ellicott). Grandlund’s political cartoon that displayed hints of Crimea wanting to join Russia was created before Crimea’s referendum and Russia’s annexation, foreshadowing these events that happened only a few days after the publication of this cartoon.

Russia Moves On Crimea by Dave Granlund summarizes the Crimean annexation that resulted from Russia seeking expansion in territorial powers while On Fertile Soil by John Knott displayed expansion of communist ideology as Soviet influence was depicted in China. After discovering the communist system was a failure after the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia adopted a more democratic government and went under many reforms for the economy, constitution, banking, labor, and private property (Ellicott). To further increase their growth as a nation, Russia decided to claim back the land that was once theirs; the Crimean Peninsula, which played a large role in providing Russia access to the Black Sea (Ellicott). After incorporating a more stable type of government, Russia now primarily focuses on developing as a more powerful federation through territorial expansion rather than revolving its nation around a single ideology and expanding it.

“China.” Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 2013, edited by Karen Ellicott, vol. 1, Gale, 2012, pp. 489-521. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

“Emperors, 1800–1912.” Encyclopedia of Modern China, edited by David Pong, vol. 1, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2009, pp. 505-509. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Granlund, Dave. “Russia Moves On Crimea.” Cartoon. DaveGrandlund.com. DaveGrandlund.com, 3 Mar. 2014. Web. 

Hyer, Eric. “China–Russia Relations.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by Karen Christensen and David Levinson, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 15-21. Gale Virtual Reference Library.

Jalabi, Raya. “Crimea’s Referendum to Leave Ukraine: How Did We Get Here?” The Guardian. The Guardian, 13 Mar. 2013. Web.

Khrustalyov, Rossomahin. “Russia Medvedev: Origins Imaging (XVI-XVIII Centuries).” Center for Ethnic and National Research ISU. Ivanovo State University, n.d. Web. 

“One Year After the Annexation, a Darkness Falls Over Crimea.” US Official News. Plus Media Solutions, 19 Mar. 2015. Web.

Schofield, Matthew. “Crimea Votes for Secession.” The Tampa Tribune. The Tribune Co., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 

U.S. Military Spending

wolverton-cartoon

In recent decades, the American government has been harshly criticized for their increased military spending at the expense of other public benefits and programs. The 2004 Monte Wolverton cartoon titled “U.S. Military Spending”, mocks this issue, depicting a caricature of George Bush as president, obediently shoveling piles money into the gaping maw of a US military officer, entitled “U.S. Military Spending” that is demanding “FEED ME!” (Wolverton). While this cartoon takes a decisively negative stance on U.S. budget priorities, an argument can be made that it was necessary, as the heightened military spending is in response to a complex and precarious political balance, beginning near the turn of the millennium.

In the 1990’s, President Bill Clinton presided over an unexpected period of economic prosperity and budget surplus. While the United States had recently exited the Cold War, there were no prominent military conflicts, and it was at the height of its imperialistic power, and the nations’ influence was far-reaching and authoritative. However, during George Bush’s presidency, a tragedy occurred. The terrorist group, al-Qaeda coordinated and executed four catastrophic attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people and wounded over 6,000 others. Monetarily, they caused over 10 billion dollars in property damage and 3 trillion dollars in total cost to the United States (Bram 2). The September 11, 2001 attacks on the twin towers fundamentally changed the outlook and temperament of the nation. There was a palpable shift towards anxiety and paranoia in the mindset of the collective American citizenry, and a movement greater defense spending and heightened airline security. Even as early as early as 2016, the history of the culture and actions United States can be divided into ‘pre’ and ‘post’ 9/11 (Butler 4). At the time fear mongering and threats from Middle Eastern nations made it easy to convince the United States population that the military spending was imperative.

The resulting Afghanistan war was a response to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, beginning in 2001 when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The purported goal was to remove al-Qaeda from a position of power, by eliminating the Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic movement that wanted to implement Sharia law (Santos 148). To date, it remains the longest U.S. military conflict in its history (Kim 16). The following period was a time of strained political and societal tensions, characterized by an increase in government military spending. Following the conflict in Afghanistan, anti-Middle east sentiments carried over into the Iraq war, which began in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq and lasted the better part of the next decade as the U.S. remained in the country to destroy the government of Saddam Hussein and oppose the resulting insurgency. In 2003, approval ratings of the war with Iraq were high, as the attacks on the twin towers had renewed patriotism and nationalism, and the public was hungry for revenge. However, as the war dragged on, enthusiasm decreased, and the war, as well as president George Bush, faced widespread criticism. For some, the reasons for entering the war, the supposed existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, were not sufficient (Santos 145). These arguments have merit, as the war was a significant military expenditure, with the total cost estimated to be $1.7 trillion dollars; however, the long term economic effects were estimated to be more than ten times this (Donovan 4).

The contemporary controversy over the U.S. military budget stems from different views about the purpose of the U.S. military. Some believe that our military serves a fundamentally different purpose from that of the armed forces of all other nations, such as that of China and Russia. They believe that the U.S. has and should take on the role of “world police”, that out military’s purpose is to fight terrorism and intervene on the behalf of our allies. For these people, the fact that the United States outpaces all other nations in military expenditures seems logical and necessary. Others however, believe that the U.S. should only enter conflict if it is a direct attack on the United States, by another nation.

In 1933, John Francis Knott, a historically famous political cartoonist published Militarist Nation, Coming and Going, in the Dallas Morning News (Knott). The drawing depicts the front and back of a French World War 1 soldier: the front of the uniform pristine and reading “Millions For Armaments”, while the back is tattered and worn, with patches which portray the problems that the unbalanced budget faces, such as “taxes” and “defaulted debts”. Knott satirizehe duality of the predicament that France faced at the time: having to maintain a facsimile of military strength, while facing economic crisis and outstanding war debts.

In comparing these two cartoons, it is evident that while they share the same subject matter, a criticism of a military overspending in a nations’ budget, the approach taken by each cartoonist is different, to better represent the nation at hand. In Knott’s cartoon, it can be inferred that the French have put up a façade of a strong military and keep their budget constraints and struggling economy under wraps, while the United States is almost unapologetically gluttonous in their military spending, even when the popular opinion it that it is entirely unnecessary. While the French soldier is depicted as strong and well kept, the commander in the Wolverton illustration is cartoonishly obese, implying that the French expenditure was costly, but necessary, while the United States spends out of greed and pride. The cartoon also implies that Bush is an obedient, mindless servant to the military-industrial complex. He simply is shoveling money into its “mouth”, without closely figuring out how much it would cost or paying any attention to balancing the budget. The Wolverton cartoon is more explicit in its intended point than the Knott cartoon, guiding readers towards the rhetorical question “Enough money left for everything else?”, while Knott assumes the reader has the relevant context and can correctly infer the point.

The implications of the French cartoon, as well as their political and economic situation at the time, are much further reaching than may initially be perceived. The French prewar period, prior to World War II, hallmarked by uncertainty and augmented military spending, can be compared to the period of political instability that currently threatens the United States. At the time, the French did not know for certain of the inevitability of the World War II, an event which justified their increased military budget during the interwar period. World War I was denominated “The War to End All Wars”, the worst war that had happened or will happen, and critics of the French budget priorities claimed nothing on this scale could ever happen again. Yet, within 20 years, Germany had once again become an aggressor, sparking the terrible conflict of World War II. The critiques of the current United States budget claim it is preparing for a conflict that will never happen. However, the contemporary United States doesn’t have the benefit of 80 years of hindsight to determine whether their unbalanced budget will be the most advantageous solution for the current predicament. Unprecedented military and cultural instability in the Middle East, as well as political conflict in Europe, is provoking a period of uncertainty, as there is no way to tell whether our nation is heading towards another ruinous global clash or total disarmament. It could also signify the loss of the United States’ status as the dominant global power, just as France lost its political status after the second World War.

Works Cited

Bram, Jason, James Orr, and Carol Rapaport. “Measuring the Effects of the September 11 Attack on New York City.” Economic Policy Review 8.2 (2002): n. pag. Social Science Research Network. 13 Sept. 2005. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.
Butler, Taryn. “The Media Construction of Terrorism Pre and Post-9/11.” McKendree University Scholars Journal 24 (2015): n. pag. Web. 11 Nov. 2016.
Donovan, Jerome Denis, Cheree Topple, Vik Naidoo, and Trenton Milner. “Strategic Interaction and the Iran-Iraq War: Lessons to Learn for Future Engagement?” Digest of Middle East Studies 24.2 (2015): 327-46. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
Kim, Youngwan, and Peter Nunnenkamp. “Does It Pay for US-based NGOs to Go to War? Empirical Evidence for Afghanistan and Iraq.” Development and Change 46.3 (2015): 387-414. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
Knott, John. “Militarist Nation, Coming and Going.” Dallas Morning News 19 Oct. 1933, 19th ed., sec. 2: 14. Print.
Santos, Maria Helena De Castro, and Ulysses Tavares Teixeira. “The Essential Role of Democracy in the Bush Doctrine: The Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.” Revista Brasileira De Política Internacional Rev. Bras. Polít. Int. 56.2 (2013): 131-56. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
Wolverton, Monte. “Military Spending.” Political Cartoons. Cagle Cartoons, 2004. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.