After analyzing the song “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” by Iron Maiden I think that the artist is trying to say that although the war may not make sense to everyone it is sometimes inevitable. I will argue my position first by demonstrating how the song is from the viewpoint of the soldiers, then by illustrating how the questions never get answered, next I will interpret how religion is referenced in the song and finally how the enemy is portrayed.
Though it does not directly state that this is from the standpoint of the soldiers, I think it is. By making this song from the viewpoint of soldiers the artist is making the statement that even they have to justify why they are at war. One of the reasons I think this is because of lines like “Trying to visualize the horrors that will lay ahead.” Also, “The desert sand mound a burial ground” indicates that this is a soldier who understands that the land he is fighting on is the burial ground for many.
In trying to understand the war the writer is constantly questioning things asking, “Are we partners in crime?” Wondering whether or not the enemy is actually the enemy or if he is a partner since both sides are fighting in this war. Additionally, statements like “Trying to justify to ourselves the reasons to go” imply that the reasons for this war are uncertain. Nevertheless, whether or not the soldier understands or believes what the meaning of the war is he realizes that he still must to fight, “When it comes to the time, we’ll be ready to die.”
I thought it was very interesting how God was mentioned and the Lord’s Prayer was quoted. This leads me to believe that Christianity, although may not be practiced regularly, is a belief among the soldiers. But I also was intrigued by where the prayer stopped “Thy Kingdom come thy shall be done, on earth” and the song leaves out the next line which is “as it is in Heaven.” Therefore, it is known that war is a burden on earth that does not occur in Heaven. Nonetheless, God is still used to justify why they are at war. The next lines are “Trying to justify to ourselves” which indicate that the word of God can’t even justify this war but they are looking everywhere for justification.
The end of the song finally refers to the enemy stating “But how can we let them go on this way?” Also, the soldiers realize that the war must end stating “The reign of terror, corruption must end.” However, what the soldiers are fighting for is never stated yet they still understand that this war is the only way “And we know deep down there’s no other way. No trust, no reasoning, no more to say.” This is very interesting to me because the soldiers have no idea what they are fighting for or why but they still think it is the only way. But I also interpreted the lines “Afraid to shoot strangers” as the soldiers wondering how these stranger can be enemies when they do not even know what the enemy has done?
“Afraid to Shoot Strangers” is a very intriguing and controversial song that can be interpreted in multiple ways. However, from the lyrics I heard and read I think that the artist did not take a strong stand point for or against the war but instead was trying to explain that war does not always make sense.
“Afraid to Shoot Strangers Lyrics – Iron Maiden.” Song Lyrics. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Aug.