Written about the Bosnian war (19921995), 'Blood On The World's Hands' describes the horror, injustice, and brutality that took place at that time in this little region of the planet, although this could quite sadly be applied to the rest of the world. It features an interesting bass intro whose closest counterpart is probably the intro to 'Innocent Exile' way back on the Killers album.
The reaction to such conflicts, wherever they are, can vary from person-to-person, or even depending on the mood when the information is received ("Sometimes it makes me wonder, sometimes it makes me question, sometimes it makes me saddened"), but Steve expresses here very rightly what any normal human being would feel when confronted to such news: "always it makes me angry". Territorial and/or ethnic wars are probably the most infuriating of all, with the blatant injustice that goes with them. The massacre of people because they look different or think according to different beliefs is quite simply intolerable.
The war in the Balkans in the mid-90s has seen the most atrocious treatments of human beings on European soil since the Nazi abominations of the 1930s and 1940s. The whole world was aware of what was going on through reports of war correspondents and images broadcasted every evening during the televised news reports ("But when you can see it happening, the madness that's all around you"), yet no one actually stepped in to prevent such atrocities ("Nobody seems to worry, the world seems so powerless to act"). The UN troops sent to the battle zone were even expressedly ordered not to intervene and even not to return fire when fired upon!
The song also questions the "Western lifestyle", which is supposed to be so safe that conflicts are thought to be nowadays impossible: "security of a world that brings one day another killing, somewhere there's someone starving, another a savage raping". This description suits perfectly well what was happening right before our eyes, and even "right next door"! The Bosnian War saw not only the massacres that most conflicts generate, but also the resurgence of concentration camps didn't the world learn the lessons of Nazi Germany? where people were held and starved to death simply because they belonged to a certain ethnic group or had a particular faith. Besides, the "savage raping(s)", that have been part of warfare ever since the dawn of mankind, were used systematically during this conflit for the horrible purpose of "ethnic cleansing". The women of one ethnic group were either raped to death, or until they fell pregnant with their attacker's child, in which case they were detained until a termination was impossible, therefore giving birth to "the enemy's" children and being rejected by their own community, as well as developing such self-loathing that they would most often commit suicide.
And "meanwhile there's someone laughing at us." This is probably a reference to the former Yugoslav leaders who where performing their awful deeds in front of the whole international community, and laughed at the fact that they could do it in full impunity at the time (things have changed since the implementation of an international criminal court, although a certain "world-leading" country still considers itself to be above such laws). "They say things are getting better", well that's what all governements would like us to believe, although it's a pretty hard thing to do when you see "the madness that's all around you."
Before its abrupt end ("Someone should..."), the song reminds us that the horrors mentioned happened very close-by: "There's chaos across the border." Indeed, no Western country is protected from such events occurring yet again on their territory and, if we're not careful, "one day it could be happening to us." So let's think about it and work together to make the world a safe place for the generations to come.