Billy Bragg Heralds Clarion Call for No Fly / NATO Engagement in Ukraine

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The Clash’s “London Calling” song has been parodied as a tool to call for NATO entrance into the Ukraine.  The song calls upon NATO to “clear the skies” and to “give us an air force,” an obvious reference to the call for the creation of a “No Fly Zone” in the Ukraine.

It is clearly a clarion call for outside direct military intervention by the US, NATO and its foreign policy partners.  A “No Fly Zone” imposed by NATO would attempt to patrol the Ukraine skies and to shoot down Russian planes, helicopters, drones and any missiles fired.  It is seen strategically as a dangerous step that would very likely lead to escalation toward a wider war and nuclear confrontation.  At this point, the Biden Administration has recognized that danger and has ruled out No Fly – as well as US / NATO direct participation on the ground in the Ukraine.

Regrettably the song, dubbed “Kiev Calling” has the support of the Clash’s surviving members, contradicting the punk band’s antiwar message in such songs as “Call Up” and “Washington Bullets,” among others.

Also tragically, the top promoter of this poorly delivered cheap remake is radical singer songwriter Billy Bragg who immediately blasted the song on his Facebook page.

Billy Bragg got into hot water though shortly after the posting when a picture of two of the band members of this pro-nuclear war propaganda turned up in a several year old picture wearing t-shirts celebrating the anti-Semitic Nazi collaborator and Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera. 

Bragg attempted to distance himself from the fascist underpinning of the singers (or shouters depending upon your musical judgment) but he soon mended fences with them and proclaimed a big victory on his website because the singers decided to take the picture down.

While many are totally blown away that Bragg would so closely associate with open fascists – my bigger concern has been that he is basically the mouthpiece promoting an open call for war escalation that could lead to outright nuclear confrontation – and that can kill all of us.

On Bragg’s page there are discussions about this turn of events – his loyal fans fawning how awesome it is that he got the fascist singers to take their several year old picture down and release an explanation of the importance of fascist Bandera to the Ukrainian people.

I also had an opportunity to confront him over – not the association with the sympathizers with Ukrainian natonalists but for his support for No Fly.  Engaging in the commentary I chimed in with:

“Bragg supports “no fly.”  He was fine with the lyrics until the pictures popped up.  And now he is backing the song again which supports jumping toward WW III.  When the nukes are in the air we can partially thank Billy Bragg and his fan base.”

His first retort was to assert that for the record, he opposes No Fly,  He explained that “It’s a song, Bob.”  Basically the career singer song writer is suggesting that the meaning of the lyrics of the song he has been the top promoter of are inconsequential even if his action promoting the song greatly contradicts his saying in a Facebook comment that he opposes No Fly “for the record.”  

I responded, “It is a clarion call for No Fly and you heralded it.  A song with lyrics that have meaning., you understand that a song with lyrics (words) has meaning  . . . First you (are) all for it.  Then the singers are supporting a bonafide nazi but . .  . they took the old picture down, a big win for Billy.  But the lyrics still call for No Fly and you promote the song – so you support the call for “no fly” keep dancing.”

I think Billy will find when the nukes take their toll, that the public record will be his enthusiastic promotion of war escalation and not his quiet Facebook comment stating “for the record” he opposes No Fly.

Personally I have opposed the action taken by Russia and publicly, including in the press, called for it to end.  However I have advocated that the only way for that to happen is through talks.

I have steadfastly, not just in Facebook comments but in statements and in the media opposed sending weapons, any NATO intervention and US sanctions against Russia.

And now I am calling out this dangerous message being promoted by Billy Bragg – as his primary mission in recent days – for NATO intervention, for No Fly and Air Force intervention.  The lyrics are clear and Billy Bragg being a professional singer songwriter understands lyrics – he knows exactly what he is supporting no matter how many tiny comments he makes in some Facebook chat otherwise.  His actions are what the people will see and know and if the nukes are in the air – we can all remember BIlly Bragg’s role in being a primary promoter of escalation.  It is a dark shadow over his musical career of supporting struggle.

This is the kind of song that is needed now – something that warns us of World War III.  Robert Colby-Witanek is the artist and he created this song during a time of the Trump administration when Trump was making off the wall threats against Korea.  Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and we did not go down that route.  We need songs that reflect on the very real danger of nuclear war – not like the one Bragg is supporting that recklessly demands escalation *toward* nuclear confrontation.

This page is provided as a resource for all of the organizations and individuals dedicated   Please share this information but also please get involved in building opposition to this war escalation wherever you are.  Please share information about your efforts and other efforts you hear about with this page so that we can help build mutual supportive connection between all of the sectors organizing to oppose this US war build up.

Proposed Action Plan for your local organizing:

The following are some suggested steps for getting something started in your city or school or wherever you organize:

Initial Launch Discussions  Discussions can be in person and via zoom, etc.

Draft Statement of unity against US war and preparation for war including provision of weapons and troops to the Ukraine,

Mobilization at car caravan and rallies at US Senator and Represenatives offices opposing US war on Russia.

Issue Responses to events as they occur and escalate.

Create Network of organizations and individuals dedicated to joining this fight.

Staff with volunteers and ideally stipended staff to continue forward opposition to war.

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