Top Five Anti-War Songs Ten Years After Iraq


By Gabriel San Roman

Ten years ago this week, “Shock and Awe” airstrikes by U.S. forces in Iraq marked the onset of another invasion of that country. President George W. Bush led a so-called “Coalition of the Willing” mocked by anti-war activists as a “coalition of the shilling” into hostilities under the pretext that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. A decade later, no WMD have ever been found.

A Brown University study released to mark the anniversary states that at least 134,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed and that the war may have contributed to a death count as much as four times that number. Related costs to the U.S. have topped $2 trillion. Few, if any, gains were cited by the report as a rollback in women’s rights, a weakened healthcare system, increased militant violence and squandered reconstruction funds were said to be the ‘legacy’ of the war in Iraq. What a fucking mess!

It was a time of protests in the streets, even before the onset of hostilities. And like any anti-war movement, there was a soundtrack to the struggle. Here’s our pick of the top five ‘Drop Bush, not Bombs’ get out of Iraq anthems!

5. Neil Young – “Let’s Impeach the President”
Neil Young’s album Living With War featured “Let’s Impeach the President.” Though that call never really materialized politically, this was the kind of song that typified the sound heard at many anti-war rallies.

Key lyrics: “Let’s impeach the President for lying / And misleading our country into war / Abusing all the power that we gave him / And shipping all our money out the door.”

4. Anti-Flag – “Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.)
Anti-Flag singer Justin Sane’s screeching vocals on the cleverly named Operation Iraqi Liberation (O.I.L.) took one of the more popular satirical take downs of President’s Bush and ran with it giving punk a voice in the movement.

Key lyrics: “This tribute, this salute / Cold hard facts one can’t refute / Number one liberators in the world / Can kill better than ice is cold!”

3. The Offspring – “Baghdad”

These were the times of compilations and mobilizations like the Rock Against Bush whose first volume of collected songs included OC’s own The Offspring and their song “Baghdad.” Originally released in 1991 as the title track off an EP by the band, the offering, sadly, was all too relevant in 2004.

Key lyrics:Soon America may find
/ Its young men in the sand / Where the casualty is just a number
/ In Iraq.”

2. Michael Franti & Spearhead – “Light Up Ya’ Lighter”
Michael Franti & Spearhead’s 2006 album Yell Fire was a powerful expression of protest music that inspired many. Franti himself spent time in Iraq for the effort and later made the documentary I Know I’m Not Alone partly about his visit there. The reggae-influenced “Light Up Ya Lighter” was exemplary and tried its best to infuse momentum into the peace movement.

Key lyrics: “So, come on, come on, sign up, come on / This one’s nothing like Vietnam / Except for the bullets, except for the bombs, except for the youth that’s gone.”

1. Zack de la Rocha – “March of Death”
Rage Against the Machine lead singer Zack de la Rocha had left fronting his band and fans clamored for his anticipated solo album. With the drums of war beating, the rap-rocker collaborated with DJ Shadow and released “March of Death” free online. De la Rocha finally performed the song live at Coachella last year as furious as ever.

Key lyrics:
“Here it comes the sound of terror from above / He flex his Texas twisted tongue / The poor lined up to kill in desert slums / For oil that boil beneath the desert sun.”

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