Bruce Springsteen had a very strong opinion of Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Administration and foreign policy. During Reagan’s administration, there were multiple foreign events that occurred. One of these events that angered Springsteen enough to record his version of “War” was the Iran-Contra Affair.
In 1985, there were seven American hostages in Lebanon being held by the Islamic Revolution group. The US government was trying to figure out how to get these hostages out. So somebody in the Reagan administration decided to work out a plan with Israel and Iran to facilitate the release of the hostages. The US was going to pay Israel for military weapons which Israel was going to give to groups in Iran. Then, Iran was going to work to get the US hostages out. But the US government ended up just selling weapons to Iran who then worked to get the hostages out of Lebanon. The weapons sold included anti-tank missiles and anti-aircraft missiles. But the real scandal came when the government decided what to do with the money they received from Iran for the weapons.
In the past, the US government was providing funding to Contra groups in Nicaragua who were attempting to overthrow the government. But in 1984, legislation was passed to ban the US from interfering in Nicaragua or providing aid to the Contra groups. When the government was deciding what to use the money from the weapons on, they used it to provide aid to the Contra groups including weapons and training for the soldiers. So they directly violated the legislation that had been passed in 1984 which is what upset many people including Springsteen.
It is still debated to this day whether or not Reagan knew that aid was given to the Contras although it has been proven that he knew the weapons were given to Iran. So many members of the public were outraged that the government had lied and didn’t know what to think about Reagan.