While they had some successes in the comics, Cobra always failed in the cartoons. Anyone ever notice that? Every week, Cobra hatched a new plan to take over the world, and every week G.I. Joe defeated them. Didn't these guys ever give up? And where was all this money coming from? Not like these were cheap plans. Their equipment must have cost a lot. Not to mention paying all their soldiers.
And how did they always escape? Cobra Commander, Destro, and all the others were caught numerous times. Sometimes they'd actually be in prison, but next episode they're back to trying to rule the world.