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General McChrystal Cartoons Analysis Essay

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Updated: Dec 27th, 2021

Subject: Insubordination

Backbiting is common amongst public officials. However, instances of backbiting should be absent amongst senior military officers because such instances would be directed to civilian leaders and the president. In his comments printed in the Rolling Stone Magazine, McChrystal criticized President Obama’s administration, including Karl Eikenberry (The United States ambassador to Afghanistan and Richard C. Holbrooke (special envoy) (Los Angeles Times, 2010, para. 1).

McChrystal says that President Obama appears to be intimidated by top military leaders. This depicts an act of insubordination towards President Obama’s administration. In addition, Stanley McChrystal breached the US military law. As a result of insubordination, McChrystal will have to fight for his career. The issue raised by McChrystal should not have been exposed within the public domain since it is a matter of international security (Los Angeles Times, 2010, para. 1).

Purpose of visual image

The cartoon shows General McChrystal, US commander to Afghanistan, pointing at his badge while emphasizing that he acquired his position through merit. This is evident in his ‘I got this for service’, ‘I got this for bravery’ and ‘I got this for courage’ comments in the cartoon. Such comments depict an individual who has succeeded in his career. This is true in that McChrystal is widely credited for defeating al-Qaida through a series of operations in Iraq.

Another cartoon depicts McChrystal with a black eye. McChrsyatal comments ‘I got this for criticizing Obama.’ The idiom ‘giving something or a person a black eye’ is figurative of damaging their reputation. In addition, a black eye depicts damaged reputation, shame and dishonor. In this article, General McChrystal’s reputation as a respected military commander is damaged. His capacity to be trusted in faithfully executing the US agenda in Afghanistan is questionable after such insubordination. In the extreme scenario, President Obama may consider firing him.The cartoon also shows McChrystal having large ears. This depicts McChrystal’s capacity to challenge his boss.


The tone of the cartoon is one of criticism. The ‘black-eye’ shows a damaged reputation and hence intense criticisms of McChrystal’s comments by Obama’s administration. His comments were totally inconsistent with the expected relationship that should exist between the military and the country’s Commander-in-Chief. In an interview, General McChrystal says that he feels disappointed and betrayed as the country’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

Context of the cartoon

The cartoon does not have any form of bias. Depicting McChrystal to have a black eye communicates his backbiting behavior which shows lack of loyalty. This arises from the fact that the McChrystal profusely apologizes to Obama and his administration for his comments and poor judgment.

Larger meaning

Despite McChrstal’s apology for his comments, the comments illustrates that Obama’s efforts to fight terrorism are at a threat considering the fact that top commanders within the army depict resistance. This means that there is lack of unity of purpose in pursuing the laid down mission. In addition, it depicts that President Obama’s administration will face resistance from the conservatives. The article depicts that relying on an individual’s track record while delegating political tasks is not a guarantee that they will be loyal.

Emotional response

In my personal response, the article depicts numerous surprises that a respected General within the military domain can publicly criticize the president and other civilian leaders. Instead the general should have addressed his concern on US strategy to fight terrorism in countries such as Afghanistan to his principals.


Los Angeles Times. (2010). General Stanley MchChrystal’s loose lips.

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IvyPanda. "General McChrystal Cartoons Analysis." December 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/general-mcchrystal-cartoons-analysis/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "General McChrystal Cartoons Analysis." December 27, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/general-mcchrystal-cartoons-analysis/.


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