Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, "Highwire" is one of the rare examples of the Stones taking on political issues - in this case, the fall-out from Persian Gulf War. On the song, Jagger said at the time of its release, "It's not about the war. It's about how it started." Richards continued, saying, "This is not about the war. It's about how you build up some shaky dictator. You can't build them up, 'cause then you've got to slam them down."
The song's lyrics deconstructed the build-up to the war, and criticized the politics behind it:
We sell 'em missiles, We sell 'em tanks; We give 'em credit, You can call the bank; It's just a business, You can pay us in crude; You love these toys, just go play out your feuds; Got no pride, don't know whose boots to lick; We act so greedy, makes me sick sick sick.
We walk the highwire; Sending the men up to the front line; Hoping they don't catch the hell fire; With hot guns and cold, cold nights.
"Highwire" was released as Flashpoint's first single on 1 March 1991. It reached #29 in the UK, #57 in the US, #28 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. An accompanying video directed by Julien Temple was released and depicted the Stones in an industrial set performing the song.
^John Stewart Bowman Facts about the American wars -- 1998 p716 "But neither that nor another antiwar song, "Highwire," by the Rolling Stones, received much attention. Nor did "Die for Oil, Sucker," by Jello Biafra, formerly of the Dead Kennedys. "