Contras, Kings and Generals

Missiles flying in the Third World
Towards a people stranded on their knees
Bombs falling over Baghdad
Killing children who are starving by degrees
There are those of us who’d question
What’s the goal and what’s the cost
One million dead, malnourished children
A U.N.-sanctioned holocaust

Missiles flying in the Third World
From Hanoi to Wounded Knee
Bombs falling over Baghdad
And each one shouts, democracy
Contras, kings and generals
Brandish stars and stripes
From Rangoon to Los Angeles
Selling oil, guns and crack pipes

Missiles flying in the Third World
And each one will kill a child
Bombs falling over Baghdad
And hunger and death is running wild
We had to destroy the village
In order to save it
To help this jungle grow
First we had to pave it

Missiles flying in the Third World
But fits and starts are everywhere
From the mountains of Chiapas
To the streets of Tompkins Square
Empires fall This one will, too
So here’s to the day
When this one is through

“Contras, Kings and Generals” originally appeared on the 1998 CD, We Just Want the World.

I think this is the first song I wrote about US policies in Iraq. Which, back in 1998, involved the enforcement of essentially genocidal UN sanctions, the enforcement of a “no fly zone,” and frequent bombings of the country by the US Air Force. These US policies in Iraq then and since are part of a long tradition of terrifyingly imperial and deadly US wars around the world, which I refer to in the song, such as Vietnam, Nicaragua, South Dakota.