Annotated Bibliographies: Examining Billy Joel’s Lyrics ‘We Didn’t Start the War’ In the Context of Past and Modern Warfare

Subject: Art
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 6
Word count: 1774
Topics: Foreign Policy, Government, International Relations, Song Analysis

The author of the article examines the security of Europe and the formation of the military actions that seek to maintain international peace. Due to the differences in the economy in the region, different regions engage in various wrangles aiming at increasing their stability and sovereignty. The Crimean War is symbolic of the current trends in Europe where Russia illegally occupied the Danubian principalities contrary to the agreements and the directions of Britain colonial masters. The article follows the wrangles of the region since 1894 since Russia declared its interests in the region. The conflict was renewed in 1991. The authors distinguish the civil war in Ukraine and the Russia claims of peace maintaining. When examining the war from multiple a modern perceptive with limited knowledge of the past, it is easy to believe that Russia invaded Ukraine in the bid to maintain peace. The article outlines the history of the region thus putting the assumption into perceptive that any war in Europe has been ongoing for decades and represents the interests of the involved parties. 

The article will be useful when analyzing the impacts and relevance of the lyrics ‘We didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel. The song highlights all the wars that occurred between 1949 and 1989. The songwriter and singer Billy Joel posit that, despite the current wars affecting most parts of Europe, there are no current reasons to engage in war. Rather, the interests that propagate the conflicts were started a long time ago through the civilization. From the perspective given by Belber (2015), it will be easy to understand what Billy means when he says ‘we didn’t start the war’ in his song. 

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In 2016, Forbes analyzed a report by ICC, which categorized the actions of Russia invasion of Ukraine as criminal as defined by the international court. In defense, Russia responded by saying that their presence in Ukraine was an innocent bystander rather than a partisan to the civil war. However, as explained in the Forbes post, that examined countries with a history of contributing to international conflict, Russia invasion to Ukraine represented the country’s selfish interests without considering the impacts on the victims. The court also blamed Russia for downing the MH17 flight. 

Similarly, countries like Afghan, Niger, Gabon, and Congo have been found guilty of similar trends in the past where they claimed to be helpful to the distressed countries only to pursue their selfish interests. The article also highlights Russian involvement in twisting the arms of a pro-Russia member of Ukraine parliaments to vote in what ICC refers to as ‘local gangster’ as the minister to maintain peace in the country. The representation of this case as identified by ICC in 2014 indicates the involvement of partisan individuals in crippling democracy in distressed countries. The appointed minister represented the interests of Russia by further allowing the coexistence of the Russian Special Forces with the local forces in pursuit of peace in the country. 

The article will be helpful in examining the content of Billy Joel’s song and its impact in the modern wrangles in Ukraine. At the begging of the song, the singer mentions prominent individuals who acted in the interests of the country including the Queen of England at the pretense of maintaining peace in Europe and other countries internationally. 

The Washington Post article examined the reality of Russia invasion into Ukraine despite the open denial by the president. The first evidence is when a NATO satellite recorded 200 Russian trucks entering the Ukraine western border and later left after the information leaked to the public domain. The denial by President Putin shows that, as opposed to the common notion that Russia invaded Ukraine to help with the civil war and stabilize the government, they did so outside the confines of the Constitution. The invasion threatened the sovereignty of Ukraine, which has been in civil war since 1991 despite having a legally elected government. 

The withdrawal of the Russian force and the attempts to cover up their invasion in the country is enough evidence that they tried to satisfy their self-interests. When the international community became a partisan to the war to preserve the Constitution and the will of the Ukrainian people, Russian tried to justify their position by through online videos and press releases. Although the article does not explicitly state so, it is objective to deduce that Russia tried to preserve its image as a country and still enact their will to the Ukraine, which had a hostile government to the Russia international policies. 

Again, the article is imperative in deducing the modern meaning of Billy Joel’s song, ‘We didn’t start the war. As Russian tried to make the world believe their intentions, the overwhelming evidence led to their withdrawal of military actions and attempted to exist as bystanders. The article will greatly aid to prove Billy’s stand that every partisan in war starts it for his or her interests, while the direct victims are only playgrounds of decades or even century’s old differences between the super powers. 

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Gibbs gives a detailed analysis of Russia invasion in Afghanistan and the various aspects that shaped the cold war starting in 1979. He described the invasion as the biggest threat to the international peace since the Second World War. From scholars’ perspective, the invasion was necessary depending on the pursuant of the international interests. He suggests that pro-Russia scholars view the invasion as necessary approach to prevent the cold war from erupting to the third World War. On the contrary, the western scholar views the invasion as the violation of the peace treaties and the sovereignty that bound the international community after the Second World War. 

The author suggests that, while it is necessary to examine the direction of the modern warfare, analysis and scholars remain biased to create an international image of the partisans. For instance, he describes the western countries as victims of the war, while Afghanistan was the primary victims at the time. The assumption that a war in a specific region could lead to secondary victims in other countries indicates that global interests are intertwined to represent alliances and shared benefits of war. 

When discussing the lyrics of Billy Joel, the article by Gibbs offers a multiple perspective to the non-partisans and the non-professionals that follow the analysis of the experts. As Joel suggests, the victims of the war and the direct partisans rarely starts the physical combats. Instead, the global interests as realized by various parties have set the international community on a path of inevitable war in the future in the attempts to exploit each other position. 

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) highlights the major interests and events that unfolded before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. The course of war reflects on the Russian and USA interests and differences between capitalism and communism. Although the article is pro-Russia, it shows that the USA had started its infiltration on the Muslim Pacific countries and wooed them into joining the capitalist community. At the cold war, the movements of the economy were major concerns for the Soviet Union and the USA, who were arming themselves for the Third World War following the mistrusts engraved by the Second World War. The religion of Russia and Afghanistan was also a major concern for the Russian who feared the infiltration of their social circles by the western would lead to an internal revolt from the Muslim majority in their country. 

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A quick reflection on the article shows that the differences between the Western and the Soviet Union led to the invasion of Afghanistan to represent highly personal interests of the two super powers. The article solidifies the research by shedding light on how ideological differences lead to victimization of neutral and non-partisan countries to avoid confrontations. When examining the relevance of Billy Joel’s song to the past social, political, and cultural interests, the article is vital and engaging as it offers a general perspective of how Afghanistan became a common ground for the cold war leading to the invasion. In the song, Billy mentions prominent governments and individuals who shaped interests of countries leading to massive exploitation of rigidity of ideologies. Some of the wars referred include Roy Cohn and Joseph Stalin. 

Reuveny and Prakash (1999) analyze the various aspects that characterized the Russian invasion to Afghanistan. The scholars view the invasion from multiple perspectives where the social notion contributed greatly to the military actions taken by Russia. Instead of focusing on the causes of invasion, the article analyzes the aftermath that led to the regime change and the response of other partisans to the war. At the onset of the war, the perception of the western was that democracy would eventually lead to the spread of the capitalism and the independent countries chose their economic structures. However, as Russia begun to lose the social fronts, they changed to military actions to streamline their interests. Reuveny and Prakash integrate these two aspects to the legitimacy effects that later contributed to the meltdown of the Soviet Union. The military actions led to the victimization of civilians in Afghanistan, the nonpartisans such as Britain condemned the Russians who faced hostility in international trades. The trend led to an increase in active participation in the war, which shifted the Russian approach to the cold war to maintain a desirable international image. 

When using this article to analyze the lyrics by Billy Joel, scholars get conversant with the greater good that eventually controls the action of the partisans. It is non-objective to argue that the wars described in the song represented the genuine liberation of civilization and their end signified a neutral ground for the partisans. Instead, Billy suggested that the countries that fronted the cease-fire policies did so to enhance their position through economic, legitimacy, or social perception.

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Did you like this sample?
  1. Belber A. “The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Over Crimea.” Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, vol. 52, 2015, pp. 1-24.
  2. Forbes. “International Criminal Court: Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Is A ‘Crime,’ Not A Civil War.” 20 Nov. 2016.
  3. Washington Post. “Has Russia invaded Ukraine? Here’s what we know. – The Washington Post.” 28 Aug. 2014.
  4. Russian-Ukraine Invasion 2014
  5. Gibbs, D. N. “Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Retrospect.” University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA, 2000, pp. 233-247.
  6. Institute for the Study of War (ISW). “Russia and Afghanistan | Institute for the Study of War.” 2017.
  7. Reuveny R., and A. Prakash. “The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union.” Review of International Studies-British International Studies Association, no. 25, 1999, p. 693–708.
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