As he launches his new TV series offering a critical view of US overseas exploits, the film director tells MEE he didn’t always see it that way
American controversies are Oliver Stone’s forte.
The Hollywood movie director has turned his cameras on the assassination of John F Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the 9/11 attacks.
But, when researching his television series, The Untold History of the United States, it was American exploits in the Middle East that left him with the most lasting impression, he told Middle East Eye on Wednesday.
“When I studied the untold history, one thing that really hit me hard was the history of our involvement in the Middle East,” Stone said.
“It was a nefarious involvement.”
Stone traces Washington’s hand in the region back to the 1930s, but he says it reached a peak when President George HW Bush sent hundreds of thousands of US troops to liberate Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion of 1990.
The Soviet Union had recently collapsed and the region was wide open to a lone superpower, he said.
“We never got out of there. Once we were in, we’re in forever,” Stone said.
“We’ve destabilised the entire region, created chaos. And then we blame ISIS for the chaos we created,” he added, referring to the Islamic State (IS) group that now rules swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Stone researched and wrote the series and book with Peter Kuznick, a scholar at the American University who specialises in the US nuclear strikes on Japan that ended the Second World War.
“It’s all about the oil. You remember the bumper sticker: What is our oil doing under their sand?” Kuznick told MEE.
Washington’s hunger for fuel underpins its alliance with Saudi Arabia, the CIA-backed coup against Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and its support for anti-Soviet religious militants in Afghanistan in the 1980s, he said.
Oliver Stone speaks at a press conference to launch his new book on American history (MEE/James Reinl)
“We create these messes, then we have a grand military plan to solve them. And the military solutions just don’t work,” he said.
The views of Stone and Kuznick are not likely to raise eyebrows on the streets of Cairo, Moscow or Paris.
But in the US they are not mainstream.
The way Stone tells it, Americans live in a bubble and are spoon-fed information by a school system, politicians and a media that portrays the US as a beacon of stability and a force for good in the world.
In one famous example, former President Ronald Reagan called the US a “shining city on a hill”.
“It’s very comforting to be an American,” Stone said.
You get the sense that you are safe and have prosperity of material goods, and that you have enemies everywhere – Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
You get into this cocoon where you have a big country, two oceans, but that you’re always under threat.
Stone says he understands this well because he lived it himself.
He was raised in New York, the son of a Republican stockbroker, Louis Stone. He was always creative – he often wrote short plays to entertain his family – but never questioned how his history teachers puffed up the US, he said.
“I had only gotten a part of the story, which emphasised American exceptionalism, America as a selfless and beneficial country to the world,” he said.
In 1967, Stone volunteered to fight in the US Army and served in Vietnam. He was wounded twice and was honoured with a Bronze Star for heroism and a Purple Heart for his service.
“I came back from Vietnam puzzled, completely confused about what was going on there,” he said.
“But I did get a heavy dose of the doublespeak, the militarese talk.”
He started asking questions and reading up on “progressive history” at the same time as he studied filmmaking at New York University under Martin Scorsese and other teachers, he said.
These ideas fed his politically orientated filmmaking in the 1980s.
Salvador (1986) was set in a 1980s war in Central America. Platoon (1986), Stone’s directorial breakthrough movie, dramatised a young soldier’s tour of duty in Vietnam, starring Charlie Sheen.
He continued probing that war in Born on the Fourth of July (1989), starring Tom Cruise. JFK (1991) showed his conspiracy theories about the former president’s killing; movies such as Nixon (1995) and W (2008) tackled subsequent commanders-in-chief.
The release of his movie about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been delayed until 2016, he said.
He has also interviewed foreign statesmen who defy Washington – from the Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro to the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Untold History of the United States, a 10-part documentary series and a 750-page book, offers Americans an alternate perspective on US history from the Second World War through the Cold War to the present day.
Stone says he wants to counter the “educational crime” of misleading American schoolchildren.
“American exceptionalism has to be driven out of our curriculums,” he said.
Seventeen years have passed and many people have already forgotten that the U. S. and a number of other NATO countries collectively waged one of the most destructive wars on the European continent since the end of World War II–the modern aerial bombing campaign against the Serbian people. In the tradition of the New World Order, this “intervention” wasn’t called “war.” It was argued by various Western politicians and the corporate media that the bombing campaign was directed against the late Serbian President Milošević and his “propaganda machine.”[i] In fact, the NATO bombs loaded with depleted uranium[ii] were falling on ...
In the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush stated in no uncertain terms that “State sponsors of terrorism” would be considered as “terrorists”.
“We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them”.
But there is always an “Exception that the Proves the Rule” and that is George W. Bush himself.
When George W. Bush respectfully kisses King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, does this mean that Dubya could–by some stretch of the imagination– be considered a “suspected terrorist”, who should never have been elected president of the United States of America?
The answer ...
Eleven Years ago: 11 July 1995, The Srebrenica Massacre
First published by GR in February 2013.
Renowned author Dr. Edward Herman spoke with John Robles of the Voice of Russia regarding the facts surrounding the Srebrenica Massacre, the pretext for the “humanitarian” invasion of the former Yugoslavia, and takes apart the “official” ; version that has always been promoted by the West.
Dr. Herman reveals that there were in fact multiple massacres at Srebrenica, and that the killing of Bosnian-Muslim soldiers at Srebrenica (the West’s pretext) was in response to the killing of over 2,000 Serb civilians, mostly women and children, at ...
Media across the world are literally transfixed by the spectacle of US elections. The Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton, Republicans vs. Democrats battle is captivating enough to distract public attention from other issues.
Democracy promotion has been a centerpiece of US foreign policy for over half a century since the days when President Woodrow Wilson crafted a new foreign policy that involved active democracy promotion. The implementation of the «beacon on the hill» concept presupposes that the United States would act as a model of excellence for others to follow is analogous to contemporary soft-power democracy promotion efforts. Lecturing on democracy is a ...
The US Senate Report documenting CIA torture of alleged terrorist suspects raises a number of fundamental questions about the nature and operations of the State, the relationship and the responsibility of the Executive Branch and Congress to the vast secret police networks which span the globe – including the United States.
CIA: The Politics of a Global Secret Police Force
The Senate Report’s revelations of CIA torture of suspects following the 9/11 bombing is only the tip of the iceberg. The Report omits the history and wider scope of violent activity in which the CIA has been and continues to be involved. ...
2015 has become a year of living dangerously.
Wars are spreading across the globe.
Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.
Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.
These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.
There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.
Now major nuclear powers ...
The U.S. Has Only Been At Peace For 21 Years Total Since Its Birth
In 2011, Danios wrote:
Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence. In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the U.S. did not wage any wars.
To put this in perspective:
* Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was involved in some war during that calendar year.
* No U.S. president truly qualifies as a ...
On 10 August 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump accused president Barak Hussein Obama and Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton of co-founding the jihadist rebel organization ISIS (Islamic State) operating mainly in Syria and Iraq but with operative in many Middle Eastern countries and around the world. Trump used Obama’s full name to provoke a racist-xenophobic response from the public about the Arabic-sounding name rooted in East Africa. Immediately, critics insisted that Trump made outrageous and ignorant comments about complex foreign affairs matters he does not fully comprehend.
The following day Trump clarified that he meant exactly what he said and ...
The former editor of the Tribune de Genève, [Guy Mettan-RI] visited Moscow and presented his new book Russia and the West: A Thousand Year War, which reviews the phenomenon of Russophobia: its roots, historical evolution and modern incarnations. Izvestia had a chance to interview him.
What inspired you to write about this?
There are two reasons why I began this work. The first is a personal, family reason. In 1994, my wife and I adopted a Russian girl, who now is now 25. Her name is Oksana, and she is from the Vladimir region. After we adopted her, I became interested ...
America is a warrior state, a serial aggressor, unaccountable for unparalleled high crimes against peace because of public ignorance and indifference.
Americans are sublimely unaware of their nation’s history. Its so-called war of independence substituted new management for old. Everything changed but stayed the same.
Civil war had nothing to do with freeing slaves, everything to do with keeping the nation intact, maintaining business as usual.
Imperial America enslaved Black Africans, exterminated its native people, stole their land and resources, stole half of Mexico, followed by Cuba, the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Hawaii, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canal Zone, Puerto Rico and other territories.
Israel is concealing vital records to prevent darkest periods in its history from coming to light, academics say
Al-Jazeera – 9 June 2016
Israel is locking away millions of official documents to prevent the darkest episodes in its history from coming to light, civil rights activists and academics have warned as the country’s state archives move online.
They claim government officials are concealing vital records needed for historical research, often in violation of Israeli law, in an effort to avoid damaging Israel’s image.
The Israeli army has long claimed to be the “most moral” in the world.
Accusations of increased secrecy come as Israel marks ...
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One could almost feel a bit sorry for O’Reilly as he struggled to regain his composure in the face of such blasphemy. Had any American establishment media star ever heard such a thought coming from the mouth of an American president? From someone on the radical left, yes, but from the president?
Senator John McCain on the ...
Bijeljina, Bosnia in 1992: Serb Volunteer Guard (Arkan's Tigers) led by Željko Ražnjatović Arkan in the action of "cleaning the town from the Muslim jihadists" (official Arkan's explanation). The victims are local Muslim family members. The guard was composed by volunteers of all moral kinds being independent on the front line and in fact waging its own private war. Bosnia is a neighbouring republic to Serbia with 1/3 of Serbian population. Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) and (Roman Catholic) Croats committed terrible crimes of genocide against the local (Orthodox) Serb population during the WWII (the so called Magnum Crimen) while during the ...
In his latest book, “How the Jihad Came to Europe”, German journalist Jürgen Elsässer unravels the Jihadist thread. Muslim fighters recruited by the CIA to fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan were used successively in Yugoslavia and Chechnya, still supported by the CIA, but perhaps sometimes out of its control. Basing himself on diverse sources, mainly Yugoslavian, Dutch, and German, he reconstructed the development of Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants at the side of NATO in Bosnia-Herzegovinia.
Silvia Cattori:Your investigation into the actions of the secret services makes a frightening report. We discover that since the 80’s the United States ...
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“Professional and honorable” KLA posing with the severed heads of Serbs they butchered in Kosovo
A report by the Council of Europe describes Kosovo today as ...
Never has US intentions in Asia been so obvious. Attempts to portray America’s role in the region as constructive or necessary have been ongoing since the end of World War II, however, recently, with Asia able to begin determining its own destiny for itself, the tone from Washington has become increasingly curt and direct.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s remarks during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore were all but a proclamation of US hegemony over Asia – a region of the planet quite literally an ocean away from Washington.
In Reuters’ article, “U.S. flexes muscles as Asia worries about South China ...
Paul Atwood, a Senior Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, provides a concise summary of the history that informs North Korea’s “relations with the United States” and “drives its determination never to submit to any American diktat”.
Excerpts from Atwood’s summary are here used as a framework, with other sources where indicated.
Atwood notes it is an American “myth” that the “North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders.” In fact, the North/South border “had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949.”
Part of what ...
America is unique among history’s warrior states – prioritizing endless wars, not ending them to achieve a new era of peace and stability.
The notion is anathema to the nation’s military, industrial, and media establishment. Wars are waged for power and profits, no other reasons.
All post-WW II US wars were and continue to be acts of naked aggression against nations threatening no one – raping and destroying them, the human cost incalculable, the villainy unprecedented.
Throughout its history, America has been perpetually at war at home and/or abroad, never a time of peace and stability – a shocking indictment of its abhorrent ...