display | more...

The Cold War was still raging hard in the mid-1980s. Don Quixote, leader of the "free world," and his trusty sidekick Sancho Panza fought the windmills of the Red Army that never showed up but were presumed to be "out there," and everyone waved thermonuclear devices in each other's general direction. Mikhail Gorbachev's awkward dovish overtures were viewed with suspicion both by his nominal enemies and by the hawks in the Kremlin. In every conflict around the world, each side placed its bets on one side or the other, hoping for more influence in the event of "their" side's victory. Large sums of money, weaponry and commodities were overtly or discreetly spread around the globe from the northern reaches of the northern hemisphere.

Picture NATO headquarters in Brussels, Western Europe. The brass, the politicians, foreign and defence ministers gathered to hash out the details. Which missiles would be pointed in whose general direction and which backwater town in England or elsewhere would be their lucky host. Briefing each other on the facts corroborating the existence of the red menace and speculating where they had no facts. We had to be protected. With the Pershing missile, with Star Wars, with American bases all over the place.

There's a sentry in a uniform to watch the VIPs along the hall
Strategical discussions taking place behind the steel plated wall
The agents issue the statements to the waiting press who circulate the words
Justification, propaganda, Western foreign policy across the world

Government in the name of the people, for the people, by the people. A press hungry to feed and to be fed, to believe and be believed.

In the name of the people
All of this is done in the name of the people

It could have been Belfast. It could have been Bologna or Hamburg. The bright, the concerned, the misguided, willing tools of the next leader in life and death. Che posters on the wall, a chain of little black notebooks, each containing only the immediately above and below rungs in the hierarchy. They questioned neither the source of the orders nor the money. Their only question was "when?" The cause was just.

They read their books and study hard, cigarettes lit in the claustrophobic gloom
West of the University Road, the world outside is ghost-like in the room
Frustrated and impatient and intelligence sharp and twisted like a child
Death is an aphrodisiac now, the fuses on the table slowly wired

The justification of every revolutionary, fake or real. Self-absorbedly selfless in their sacrifice of others. The outrage over Grenada, Palestine, Nicaragua. The dreamers who themselves spin nightmares.

In the name of the people
All of this is done in the name of the people

Stand by feeling impotent, nowhere feeling safe from those claiming to be acting in your name. There was no general threat towards your town, your country, your lifestyle. The target was you and you felt it personally. It was not paranoia. They were out to get you. Us. Cling to each other in the solidarity of the common hope the next wave of uncertainty won't explode into a mushroom of fiery reality in your front yard.

Hold me tight, hold me fast
Standing here on the wrong side
Of this bullet-proof glass
There are no questions left for us to ask

Occupied Berlin, 1986. Amerikanischer Sektor. Berlin, epicentre of the madness, largest city of the country that had risen from the ashes to once again become an economic superpower. Amidst the bustle of the metropolis the foreign presence is sometimes taken for granted. The kid from Nowhere, Nebraska, looking for a bit of homestyle entertainment and settling for a universal institution.

It's soldiers night at the discotheque, pick up a girl and drink to home afar
Spending money like water on the watered drinks available at the bar
The ones who never were given much, never asked much of anything in recall
But there's a black bag in the corner and it doesn't belong to anyone here at all

For their oppressed brethren. Looking to honour their martyrs, martyr themselves, and in the end supplying their enemy with martyrs of its own. Oh, the tragedy of this irony.

In the name of the people
All of this is done in the name of the people

Muammar Qaddafi was a pretty brazen character at the time. Abu Nidal was his best buddy and thought to be behind several attacks on American targets, and Qaddafi was quite outspoken in support of his unsavoury activities. Mothers, fathers, sisters died in those attacks. You know, collateral damage. Qaddafi flew the banner of Arab outrage over Israel's actions and US support for them and he flew that banner high, volunteers courtesy of popular anger, weapons courtesy of the Soviet Union and France. He had friends in the Kremlin and thought himself untouchable. In 1985 he tried to assume control over international waters in the Mediterranean and got in a spat with the Americans, which he lost. He and his friends found that very distressing.

On 1986-04-05 a bomb exploded in the La Belle disco in West Berlin. One American serviceman and a German woman were killed. Ten days later the United States attacked Libya with a hundred aircraft from bases in the UK and the Sixth Fleet, unexpectedly directed towards North Africa instead of pointing at the Soviets and Europe. 37 Libyan civilians died. You know, mothers, fathers, sisters, collateral damage, including Qaddafi's daughter. Fifteen years later a German court sentenced a German woman, a Libyan, a Palestinian and a naturalised Lebanese to 12-14 years in prison for the Berlin bombing. Another five suspects, including secret agents, were never extradited from Libya. In 2004 the Libyan government agreed to pay reparations. Blood money.

Russians, Americans, Germans, Arabs, Israelis, that's not really the point. Again and not for the last time, the leaders on both sides scored for supporting the popular cause, even if the problems were their own making. Some scored brownie points by naming and punishing the guilty based on conjecture and suspicion. Others gained new martyrs to extoll. All of this in the name of the people. And the people rejoiced.


Italicised text: All Of This by New Model Army, from The Ghost of Cain (EMI Records, 1986).
Written by Justin Sullivan.
℗ 1986 Attack Attack Music/Warner Chappell Music Ltd.

"Someone asked me, of course, 'Are you gonna write a song about September the 11th?' We had a concert about three days after that in Switzerland and it seemed that almost every other fucking song I'd ever written was about September the 11th... this one for sure." -J.S., Bielefeld, Germany 2002-04-13

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.