Five For Fighting singer-songwriter John Ondrasik joined the “Brian Kilmeade Show” on Thursday to discuss his new music video for the song “Blood on My Hands” in which he utilized real-world footage to criticize the U.S. government’s handling of its withdrawal from Afghanistan.
For Ondrasik, seeing the videos of people falling from a military aircraft and handing babies over walls harkened back to the disturbing images of 9/11. He would often bang on his drum and begin writing as a means of catharsis.
One day, a close friend of Ondrasik called him to ask for a contact. She explained that she was going to attempt to evacuate American citizens and allies from Afghanistan after the last U.S. soldier had already left. The withdrawal had suddenly become personal.
“There was silence on the line. And I thought I said, ‘You’re risking your life to rescue the citizens we left behind?’ And she’s like ‘Oh, yes.’”
Ondrasik was quickly inspired and began to write. It wasn’t until President Biden gave his “extraordinary success” speech and was parroted by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley that the singer became scared. He realized the withdrawal from Afghanistan had become a “political operation.”
“I finished the song that night,” recalled Ondrasik.
The singer said he is often asked why he attacks the generals more than President Biden in the music video. His response, Ondrasik says, is simple: Perhaps the “dynamic” of Afghanistan could have been changed or potentially even avoided if the generals had stood up to the president and resigned when he denied their military strategy.
“If I’m a triggerman and I make a mistake, I get blamed for it whether it’s my fault or not. Milley, Austin, they’re gonna get big keynotes, they’re gonna get big pensions. Zero accountability. And what does that portray for China, Ukraine, Iran?”
Five For Fighting is no stranger to the military, veterans, and politics. Ondrasik told Kilmeade he had been receiving letters from troops in Iraq since the release of his number one hits “Superman” and “Hundred Years” more than 20 years ago.
He did not see the impact of his latest song until he performed it live.
“At the end of my shows, I’d kick off my quartet, so they didn’t get canceled, and I’d talk about the song and how it was a moral message, not a political one,” Ondrasik said. “And I’d sing it, and I’d have these veterans come up to me literally in tears, they couldn’t even talk. They were so angry and ashamed that we had broken the no man left behind promise”
The music video for “Blood on My Hands” was released on Monday, four months after the release of the song. The song and other Five For Fighting tracks can also be found on Spotify.