Often on the battlefield, circumstances are dire, food is scarce, and morale flutters and wavers like bullet-pocked flags in the wind. But victory is sweet, and the powerful new video from The Decemberists for their song This is Why We Fight plays to the miraculous capacity for human endurance in the midst of near-certain defeat.

With a dramatic take on themes such as tyranny and doomed love, the video features two rag-tag bands of dirt-stained, battle-hardened warriors in a desolate, post-apocalyptic wasteland. While no actual fighting is portrayed (until the end, at least), the hardships are made apparent with broken glasses, dangerously smuggled cans of tuna, and guitarist/singer Colin Meloy’s bittersweet, ambivalent musings on humanity’s dark side. It’s no surprise that director Aaron Stewart-Ahn’s previous work is characterized by unique, critical takes on war and foreign affairs—notably in the brilliant United Nations-dissing video for 16 Military Wives.

The Decemberists’ latest album, ‘The King is Dead,’ is currently available on Capitol Records.

Image courtesy of www.52shows.com