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.
“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.
“We’re not under threat. We are the threat.”
Originally published on 2016-09-18
Author: James Reinl
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
“I believe the perception caused by civilian casualties is one of the most dangerous enemies we face.”
– U.S. General Stanley A. McCrystal in his inaugural speech as ISAF Commander in June 2009.
The dust had hardly settled on Russian airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria before Western media reports claimed that ‘civilians’ had been killed “including women and children”.
Leaving aside the dubious nature of these allegations – the first of which was made before Russian airstrikes had even begun, according to Putin – Western propaganda outlets and the politicians they serve are in no position to point the finger at Russia ...
The ongoing crisis in Ukraine and unseemly role of Poland in its instigation and development makes us take another look at the historical context of the Polish-Ukrainian relations. We will focus on dramatic repressions of the Ukrainian minorities in Eastern Poland in 1921-1939 at the territories annexed by Jozef Piłsudski’s government from the Soviet Russia according to Peace of Riga 1921, which eventually triggered ultra-Nationalist Ukrainian terror against the Poles during the WWII (culminating in massacres in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia in 1943-1944).
Poland, which used to be a part of the Russian Empire, emerged at the European political map in November ...
Having just returned from a trip to Russia, I am pleased to report that the Russian people and the officialdom that I encountered displayed none of the vitriol towards Americans that I half expected as a response to the vilifying of Moscow and all its works that pervades the U.S. media and Establishment. To be sure, many Russians I spoke with were quick to criticize the Trump Administration for its hot and cold performance vis-à-vis the bilateral ties to Moscow while also expressing mystification over why the relationship had gone south so quickly, but this anger over foreign policy did ...
“Rooted in a story of generosity and partnership, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to express our gratitude for the gifts we have and to show our appreciation for all we hold dear….”
So begins the official Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving Day, 2015, signed and issued by Barack Obama.
While it hearkens back to earlier Thanksgivings in St. Augustine in 1565 and Plymouth in 1621, this is an essentially imperial document than gives only vague lip service to giving “thanks for the many blessings bestowed upon us.” When his proclamation gets specific, in the third sentence, the President gives the highest place of ...
History has repeatedly demonstrated the need to view with the greatest skepticism U.S. imperialism’s justifications for its endless wars and interventions.
Need we mention the 1964 U.S.-manufactured Tonkin Bay incident, wherein a virtually non-existent Vietnamese navy was accused of attacking a U.S. destroyer? That false flag pretext was employed to launch the Vietnam War, during which four million Vietnamese were slaughtered in a 10-year U.S. conflagration verging on genocide. Or the more recent Iraq “weapons of mass destruction” lie that resulted in the U.S. murder of 1.5 million Iraqis?
Even if the latest sarin gas accusations against Syrian President Bashar Assad should ...
The new US National Security Strategy released this week and the speech delivered by President Donald Trump Monday to introduce it constitute a grim warning to humanity that US imperialism is firmly embarked on a road that leads to a nuclear third world war.
While the document has largely been passed over in silence by the president’s ostensible political opponents in the Democratic Party and given relatively short shrift by the establishment media, more thoughtful ideologists of imperialism have noted the far-reaching changes presented in the document.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, the historian Arthur L. Herman declared Trump’s National Security Strategy ...
Since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the nineties, its former constituent republics have been mired in a state of perpetual conflict.Nowhere is this more apparent than the contested state of Kosovo.In 1998, Albanian separatists in the Serbian province of Kosovo i Metohija began a campaign of attacks, with the express objective of creating a unified, ethnically homogenous, Greater Albanian state. Spearheaded by an organization known as the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which is widely regarded by many nations, including the United States, as a terrorist organization, ethnic Albanian militants attacked Serbian security forces, and terrorized civilians in a brutally violent ...
U.S. media have given more attention to hearsay allegations of Julian Assange’s sexual encounters with two talkative Swedish women than to an official report accusing Kosovo prime minister Hashim Thaci of running a criminal enterprise which, among almost every other crime in the book, has murdered prisoners in order to sell their vital organs on the world market.The report by Swiss liberal Dick Marty was mandated two years ago by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Not to be confused with the European Union, the Council of Europe was founded in 1949 to promote human rights, the ...
The coming months mark the centennial of Palestine’s forcible incorporation into the British Empire. In November 1917, British foreign secretary Lord Arthur Balfour declared his government’s support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”; in December, Jerusalem fell to British troops. One hundred years later, the effects of these events continue to reverberate. This should be a time of sombre reflection about international responsibility for the unfolding tragedy in Palestine.This responsibility should weigh heavily on the West. Walid Khalidi put it well: “The Zionists were the initiators. But they were also, as they still ...
Two decades later Bosnia is still suffering the consequences. ISIS has declared the Balkans the next front for the Islamic Caliphate, and in remote mountain villages, Muslims are already flying the ISIS flag.Central Bosnia in 2015Russia Insider (h/t Maksim) The Balkans is the latest arena where the West is trying to circumcise any attempt of Russia to regainits influence. This anti-Serbian resolution and initiative is the part of the broader strategy and the latest Western attempt to demonize Serbs and delegitimize pro-Russian Republic of Srpska (Serbian part of Bosnia) in an effort to forcefully centralize Bosnia and give the driving seat to ...
A massive destruction of the Ottoman (Orthodox Christian) Armenian population in 1915−1916 is probably the greatest atrocity committed during the WWI and for sure a first 20th century case of the genocide as up to 1.500.000 ethnic Armenians were executed by the Ottoman authorities and their collaborators (the Kurds). As a consequence, the survivors are scattered across the globe. Today it is already a century old event, but the issue of the 1915−1916 Armenian Genocide is undoubtedly still alive and divisive political issue firstly between the Armenians and the Turks but also and among the western “liberal democracies” on the ...
In 2014, after I published my report about Namibia, exposing the German ‘semi-denial’ that it had committed a Holocaust in its former Southwest African colony; a renowned German university sent me a letter. I paraphrase here, but the essence of the letter is kept intact:
“Dear Professor Vltchek, we are impressed by your research and your conclusions, and we would like to translate and publish your groundbreaking analyses in German language. Unfortunately, we cannot afford any payment…”
It was one of the major universities in the country, with tremendous budgets and an international reputation.
I replied, asking why, with all those scholars and ...
The contemporary Lithuania uses the official interpretation of bloody events that took place in Vilnius on January 13, 1991 as an ideological foundation for Russophobia-based confrontation with its eastern neighbor. It says “the Soviet soldiers committed an intentional murder of 13 unarmed people and one special operations serviceman”. The truth about what really happened, as well as the doubts over the official interpretation, are punishable crimes.The Lithuanian authorities have been trying to get Algirdas Paleckis condemned by court for some years. He is a young politician and a diplomat, the leader of Lithuanian Socialist People’s Front (SPF), a holder of ...
After the first decade after the Cold War, it became obvious that an idea of global governance is going to be impossible primarily due to an aggressive US foreign policy as Washington intended to become the world hegemon and global policeman. A turning point in the post-Cold War IR became the Kosovo War of 1998−1999, which resulted in the NATO’s occupation of the south-western region of Serbia based on an idea of „Just War“, but in practice for the creation of the mafia state of the Kosovar Muslim Albanians. As a direct consequence of the NATO’s aggression on Serbia and ...
This article is excerpted from Fawaz A. Gerges’s forthcoming book, ISIS: A History.Although the spectacular surge of ISIS must be contextualized within the social and political circumstances that exist in Iraq and Syria and beyond, the group’s worldview and ideology should be taken equally seriously. Ideology is, after all, the superglue that binds Salafi-jihadists known as revolutionary religious activists or global jihadists of the ISIS variety to each other. The Salafi-jihadist movement emerged from an alliance between ultraconservative Saudi Salafism (or Wahhabism) and revolutionary Egyptian Islamism which was inspired by the Egyptian master theorist, Sayyid Qutb. The Afghan war against ...
First of all, taking into consideration the particular region of the Balkans in the context of Russia's national interests, we should consult official documents reflecting the wishes and intentions of the government. It is therefore necessary to consider Russia’s foreign policy doctrine.
Foreign policy strategy
The Russian Federation's previous foreign policy doctrine was made public on July 15th, 2008.
Russian objectives were marked as the following:
- Impacting global processes in order to establish a just and democratic world order based on collective principles in solving international problems and on the rule of international law, primarily the UN Charter provisions as well as equal ...
The media is currently in the midst of an anti-Russian hysteria that many have dubbed Cold War 2.0. Of course the first cold war never really ended as the wars in Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and even Afghanistan were aimed at Russia as was the relentless NATO expansion. This manufactured panic is a form of psychological warfare that went into high gear during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 as the US was working to launch a fascist coup in Ukraine. Since most ordinary people would be shocked to discover that Nazis had been installed in power in Ukraine an anti-Russian hysteria was ...
Jomo Kenyatta (c. 1891 – 22 August 1978) was a Kenyan politician and the first President of Kenya. Kenyatta was the leader of Kenya from independence in 1963 to his death in 1978, serving first as Prime Minister (1963–64) and then as President (1964–78). He is considered the founding father of the Kenyan nation. Kenyatta was a well-educated intellectual who authored several books, and is remembered as a Pan-Africanist. He is also the father of Kenya's fourth and current President, Uhuru Kenyatta (Source: Wikipedia)Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate ...
Ema Miljkovic-Bojanic, M. A.Institute of History ofSerbian Academy of Sciences and ArtsBelgrade, 2000Malcolm’s Apology of the “Pax Ottomana” (Ab)using of historiography and historical facts for political ends is not a novelty introduced towards the end of the twentieth century. Its instances have been known throughout history, so that “practically there is not a single epoch of human history that was not controlled – by the Church, state, nation, party, leadership…” But precisely at a time when historiography seemed to be getting rid, at least partly, of the grip of “supervision” and when a critical approach was getting the upper hand, the ...
Kosovo is to set up a regular standing army, officially defying everyone, including NATO, although the bloc’s objections are only half-hearted. The alliance would prefer that the illegal entity of Kosovo change its constitution in order to create an army. Just amend it, and then you’re free to have one. This stance looks more like connivance than any real opposition to the move.
Washington’s position is more or less the same. It supports "the gradual, transparent transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into a multiethnic force in line with NATO standards" as long as it complies with the provisions of Kosovo’s constitution, reflecting that “entity’s multiethnic ...
Western Warmongers Killed 1.5 Million Muslims in “War On Terror”
Poland and Ukraine: History of Break-Downs
Hating Russia is a Full-Time Job: Neocons Resurrect Tribal Memories to Fan the Flames
Thanksgiving for a Grateful Empire
Donald Trumpenstein: Self-Proclaimed “Cop of the World”
Trump’s National Security Strategy: The Return of “Great Power” Military Conflict
The Continued Conflict in Kosovo: The Outright “Criminalization” of the Pristina Government
Criminal Kosovo: America’s Gift to Europe
Balfour at 100: A legacy of Racism and Propaganda
The Disaster That Bill Clinton Created in Bosnia by Backing Muslims Against the Serbs
The 1915−1916 Armenian Genocide: An Ideology, Course and Consequences
European Holocaust had Roots in Africa, Now Namibia is Suing Germany
Lithuania: Stamped Out Truth
What is the Concert of Powers in International Relations?
The World According to ISIS
Russia’s Geopolitical Interests in the Balkans
The Cold War and Its Origins: The Inception of the Soviet Union (1917-1950)
Jomo Kenyatta on Africa and Europe
Noel Malcolm: “Kosovo – A Short History”, 1999. A History Written With an Attempt to Support Albanian Territorial Claims in the Balkans (Fourth Part)
Kosovo: An Illegal Entity Annexed and Ruled by NATO is to Create a Regular Army