Socialist Worker

Accusing past and present wars

Issue No. 1837

BUSH AND Blair's plans to attack Iraq will create devastation and kill thousands of civilians. We are unlikely to be shown the full extent of the horror while the war goes on. But there have been many films, books and songs that have shown the true face of war and protested against it.

MATTHEW COOKSON looks at some of the best of these.


Three Kings stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube as three US soldiers who become disillusioned by the last Gulf War. They help the people who have been abandoned by George Bush Sr. This is a funny and subtle look at the injustice of US foreign policy. Born on the Fourth of July is a film about Ron Kovic, the Vietnam War veteran who in the course of the war goes from being a fighter for the US to an anti-war activist.

Directed by Oliver Stone and with Tom Cruise as Kovic, this is not the usual Hollywood look at Vietnam. Kovic continues to be a major figure in the anti-war movement in the US.

The Officers' Ward is a film about the horrors of the First World War. It is set in a ward that looks after officers who have been disfigured during the war. It explores how they come to reclaim their humanity. Dr Strangelove, Stanley Kubrick's apocalyptic comedy was released at the height of the Cold War in the 1960s. It takes an absurd look at the dangers of nuclear war.

An insane US general orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, convinced that the Russians are contaminating 'our precious bodily fluids'. The 1937 film by Jean Renoir La Grande Illusion is set in two German prisoner of war camps during the First World War. It looks at the attempts to escape by two French prisoners. The Nazis declared it 'Cinematographic Enemy Number One'.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Remarque is a classic anti-war novel that conveys the horror and exposes the myths of the First World War. It blames the kings, ministers, financiers and bosses who forced ordinary people to kill one another.

The Regeneration trilogy by Pat Barker shows the effects the First World War had on the soldiers who fought it. There is also a film based on the book.

The American War by Jonathan Neale takes its title from the way the Vietnamese describe their struggle against the US.

It tells the story of how a superpower was humbled by mass resistance inside Vietnam, a huge anti-war movement at home and the disillusionment of US soldiers.

Andrew and Patrick Cockburn's Saddam Hussein: An American Obsession explores the way that the West has always tried to control the oil-rich Iraq.

Socialist Worker's Stop the War on Iraq is a cheap and accessible pamphlet which goes through all the arguments against Bush and Blair's war drive.

Most of the books are available from Bookmarks, the socialist bookshop. Phone 020 7637 1848 go to or click the links above to buy directly on-line.

Top ten songs to protest to

By Yuri Prasad

1 'What's Going On' - Marvin Gaye: From the What's Going On album that the head of Motown initially refused to release, fearing it was too political.

Mother, mother, there's too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother, there's far too many of you dying
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today, hey
Father, father, we don't need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate
You know we've got to find a way
To bring some lovin' here today

2 'Why Can't We Live Together?' - Jimmy Thomas: Beautiful vocals set against simple keyboards made this an instant classic in 1972.

3 'Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos' - Public Enemy: Chuck D receives a letter calling him up to the army and refuses to serve. From jail he leads a prison revolt.

4 'The Eagle and the Bear' - Linton Kwesi Johnson: While Margaret Thatcher brought US cruise missiles to Britain, dub poet Linton expressed the popular fear of nuclear war.

5 'Rock the Casbah' - The Clash: Today Bush and Blair denounce Iraq and ignore the crimes of their allies in the region. The Clash exposed them back in 1982.

6 'Ohio' - The Isley Brothers: In 1970 the US National Guard killed four anti-war protesters at Kent State University. Neil Young wrote this cry of anger, but the Isleys did the best version.

Tin soldiers and Nixon's coming
We're finally on our own
This summer I hear the drumming
Four dead in Ohio
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago
What if you knew that girl and
Found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know

7 'War' - Edwin Starr: No one thought Edwin's music political until he stormed to number one in the US with his 1970 classic.

8 'Armagideon Time' - Willie Williams-Punk helped a whole generation to find the radical tradition of Jamaican music.

9 'We Need a Revolution' - Dead Prez: This is an uncompromising hip-hop assault on the system that breeds war and poverty.

I'm tired a strugglin I'm tired a strugglin
The system ain't gon' change
Unless we make it change
The White House is the rock house
Uncle Sam is the motherfuckin pusher man
What I gotta do to make sure you understand?

10 'Enemy of the Enemy' - Asian Dub Foundation: Combining hip-hop beats with Indian percussion and the spirit of punk, ADF take on the warmongers.

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Sat 8 Feb 2003, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1837
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