Dylan’s Masters of War song was ignited by the speech that President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave as a farewell from office on January 17, 1961. Eisenhower advised the world on the balance within the nations powers: war manufacturers and legislators. He explains that without good judgment, imbalance and frustration will eventually ensue. One crucial component of peace is the harmony within our military authorities. The “acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military-industrial complex” illuminates the idea that unbalance would occur if the government was to gain influence from the arms manufacturers. Power could become corrupt and disastrous uprisings would ensue. The combination of the latter could endanger our liberties, and, therefore, we must validate and assess these relationships to find the complementary connection favoring peace and prosperity. Eisenhower’s concerns with the developing relationship between the national defense and diplomacy were not in vain. Bob Dylan personifies this coalition with disgust.
Masters of War targets the military-industrial complex, comprising of the associations between political figures, the nations armed forces, and the manufacturers of arms. Very specifically, Dylan calls them out: “You that build all the guns; you that build the death planes; you that build all the bombs.” He goes on to say that they have not done anything but destroy the world that we live in. They act as if they do care; however, they care about winning, not the death tolls. The people that are truly affected are those families that lose their fathers, brothers, and sisters. These loved ones will never be replaced. He claims that these war lords and politicians are not directly affected. Although they are the ones with the immensely difficult decisions, our leaders get to “set back and watch; [and] when the death counts gets higher; you hide in your mansion.” This song is full of hatred and slander towards the military-industrial complex. Dylan goes as far as to say that he hopes they will die and he will “stand over your grave ‘til [he is] sure that you’re dead.” Although Dylan has never written about such an immense hatred for someone, he said that it was like his “last straw,” he had nothing more to explain.
A video clip of Eisenhower’s farewell speech concerning the military-industrial complex: