Russians: the meaning of Sting’s song against war

Posted by

The conflict between Russia and the Western world, which in the past materialized in the Cold War and which is now again actual with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, has always inspired the world of art and music. Russians, the song published by Sting in 1985, referred to the years of tensions between America and the Soviet Union that back in those days were still strong (we are a few years away before the fall of the Berlin Wall), and offered the men’s common point of view in front of the war, and in particular the possibility of nuclear war.

Russians was recently re-proposed by Sting on his Instagram channel. Sting explained that the song was used a few times throughout his solo career, but is still relevant today.

Watch this video on YouTube.

Let’s see together what the lyrics say and what meaning is hidden behind them.

The meaning of the lyrics

In Europe and America there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mister Krushchev said, “We will bury you”
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too
How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
There is no monopoly on common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the president?
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
Mister Reagan says, “We will protect you”
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology, regardless of ideology
But what might save us, me and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

Sting makes an explicit reference to the speeches of the Russian and American presidents, and it is therefore clear that the subject of the text is the possibility of a real war between America and Russia. In fact, the “Oppenheimer’s deadly toy” is the atomic bomb (Robert Oppenheimer is the scientist who designed the first atomic bomb), and the whole cold war took place with the explicit threat that one of the two sides could spark a nuclear conflict.

The statements of the two presidents therefore refer to this possibility, but Sting presents the point of view of the people. Explaining that people cannot in any way agree with the possibility of a war. Because “Russians love their children too”, meaning that all people have at heart the intention of leaving a pleasant world to the future generations. There is no difference in this between Russians, Americans and other populations, since “we share the same biology, regardless of ideology”. The refusal of war is therefore a human instinct, in every part of the world, while the instrument of war is only the prerogative of politics and governments’ ideologies.

Russians is therefore an anti-war song, which humbly and innocently presents the human point of view against the rhetorical one. And for this reason, it is always relevant, today and tomorrow.