Oliver Stone on 50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination & the Untold History of the United States
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So, the Kennedy of 1963, in response to that person who posted on Facebook, Kennedy of 1963 was really very much of a visionary. And Oliver and I believe that this was the last time we had an American president who was really willing to—wanted to change the direction of the country, stand up to the militarists, stand up to the intelligence community, and take the United States in a very different direction. So, the tragedy of Kennedy’s assassination is not just that we lost this one man, but it’s that the United States and the Soviet Union were both looking to take the world in a very, very different direction. And Kennedy is assassinated. Khrushchev is ousted the next year. And as we say—Kennedy, in his inauguration, says we’re going to pass the torch forward to a new generation, and we say that now the torch has been passed back to the old generation, the generation of Johnson, Nixon, Eisenhower, and the world goes back very heavily into Cold War.
AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go back—
PETER KUZNICK: Johnson wastes little time.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to a clip from The Untold History of the United States, where you look at the transition from JFK to LBJ.
OLIVER STONE: With the ascension of Vice President Lyndon Johnson, there would be important changes in many of Kennedy’s policies, particularly towards the Soviet Union and Vietnam.
PRESIDENT LYNDON JOHNSON: I will do my best. That is all I can do.
OLIVER STONE: In his inaugural address in the morning of that decade in January 1961—
PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY: Let the word go forth, from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.
OLIVER STONE: But with his murder, the torch was passed back to an old generation, the generation of Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Reagan, leaders who would systematically destroy the promise of Kennedy’s last year, as they returned the country to war and repression. Though the vision Khrushchev and Kennedy had expressed would fall with them, it would not die. The seeds they had planted would germinate and sprout again long after their deaths.
AMY GOODMAN: Oliver Stone narrating The Untold History of the United States.
OLIVER STONE: Yes, yeah. It’s five years of my life. It’s perhaps my most ambitious project.
AMY GOODMAN: Why is this so important to you? It begins actually in what, 1898? The year after my grandmother was born.
OLIVER STONE: It begins with—it begins with the Spanish-American War and the first, really, effort overseas by America to expand. We take the Philippines, and we basically take Cuba. This whole series, from 1898 to 2013 is—in a sense, it’s a mourning. It’s a mourning for a country that could, after World War II, have taken another direction. And if Roosevelt had lived a little longer, it may well have, or if Henry Wallace had been the—had been the real vice president. And when I think—what we’re doing, Peter and I, is we’re really—after George Bush had been in office two terms in 2008, we said, "What is—is he an aberration, or is he a continuation of a pattern?" So we went back to our early lives in the 1940s and studied this whole pattern. And we see a pattern. If you look at all chapters together quickly, in 12 hours, you feel the dream, the fever dream, the aggression, the militarism, the racism towards the Third World—it doesn’t end—the exploitation.
AMY GOODMAN: In fact—
OLIVER STONE: There’s good things, too. I’m not saying only bad things. We try to point out the hopes.