From their 2008 release, The Slip, this Nine Inch Nails song is widely seen as a hard-hitting attack on George W. Bush as a warmonger. That many conspiracy theory minded types continue to hope the U.S. president can somehow be tried for war crimes, shows how polarizing the man remains, though he has been out of office for near four years now. The band refused to perform at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, after not being permitted to do so in front of an image of Bush.
The chorus laments that we are letting the USA “get away with it,” which speaks to how so many citizens feel that the usual ballot box way of democracy is inadequate. We’ve seen the concrete manifestation of this alienation with the Occupy Movement in the US, the Arab Spring in Libya, Egypt and elswhere, and even Quebec students demonstrating and rioting for months in Canada, protesting a postsecondary tuition increase proposal. It remains to be seen if such extralegal activities effect change beyond raising awareness. In turn the song itself does not suggest a course of action for U.S. imperialism.