Band member Murdoc Niccals stated the following about "White Flag" in a track-by-track commentary:
"This one features the National Orchestra For Arabic Music. ’Plastic Beach' was intended to be a worldwide collage. Via the guests I brought in and used, I could take little snapshots of the world.
'White Flag' was recorded in Beirut, around the end of March 2009. Over there, the Israelis like to fly their jets really low over the city once a month. It’s called “sabre-rattling”. If they fly low and fast enough, it creates a sonic boom effect, taking out all the windows in the area.
This faintly surreal experience in Beirut and Syria got rolled into various themes on the album. What I wanted to do was then add a British counterpart. And who would fit the bill better than the British grime artists Bashy and Kano? What they bring to this is great."
Look no castaway no survivor
I ain't lost and this ain't shipwrecked
I feel small in this big wide world
And mummy ain't said
honey I shrunk the kids yet
I ain't Jesus but I'm walking on water
There's no bombs here there's no war cuz
I can break out of jail with a lighter
So is there any point in making laws blud
This ain't Atlantis are you sure
I nearly suffocated when I touched the shore
No rain condoms get poured
And up the road you'll never guess who I saw
Skip on the beat like Ali in the gym
Honey I'm home this is where I want to live
Just found it like Nemo on the de-low
I don't know if it's greener but it's green though
On the other side of the fence
Bye to the ends, look, no feds no stress no rent
No superficial shit it's real folk
Where the woman look hot but the beach cold
And the speech goes like "Hey little lady,
Sex on the beach
Wanna try for a baby"
Word in the village I'm a little bit crazy
Swagger on a hundred degrees no eighty
Look if heaven had a VIP this is it white sand blue sea
But I don't know who they are
and I'm damn sure they don't know me
But I come in peace
Cool, white Flag, white flag
No war no guns no poor just life
Just love no hype just fun no ties
Just me and my mind just me and my wife
But tell me if I'm dreaming
'Cause I don't want to wake up till the evening
And I don't want to be left sleeping
from all the diseases that I breathe in
Look respect the island no stealing
And don't bring religion here no three kings
Integrated and we ain't leaving
We come on the beach saying
"White flag?" "White flag."
White Flags working title on Plastic Beach was "The House Of The Pinky Stink Fish" until Murdoc changed it to be taken more seriously.
The lyric lines "Honey I shrunk the kids yet" and "Just found it like Nemo on the de-low" are references to the 1989 movie "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" and the 2003 animated movie "Finding Nemo" respectively.