Oliver Stone on 50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination & the Untold History of the United States
Continued from previous page
AMY GOODMAN: In fact, didn’t this project start around you wanting to tell the story of Henry Wallace? Most people who are watching right now don’t even know who Henry Wallace was.
OLIVER STONE: Henry Wallace is a wonderful character, but not the only character in this thing. No, the—what for me was the important thing—I was born right after it—was the atomic bomb. I always had accepted, like I accepted the story of Kennedy’s assassination, I accepted that we needed to drop the bomb to win World War II, because the Japanese were fanatics. Well, we’ve got to go back to that myth, and we explore it in depth. And we have it—I think we show that our use of the bomb was criminal and immoral. And we proved to the Soviet Union, as well as to the world, that we could be as barbaric as the Nazis were.
AMY GOODMAN: Explain why you think the world would be a very different place if this vice president in the 1940s—
OLIVER STONE: Right, right.
AMY GOODMAN: —Henry Wallace, had actually continued to be the vice president under FDR?
OLIVER STONE: Yeah. Well, because he was a—he was a peace seeker. He was a man of international vision. He spoke of the century of the common man in—it was a counter to Henry Luce of Time magazine that made a speech about this is the American century. Luce talks a lot like Hillary Clinton these days. So, Wallace countered with, "No, America should stand for the common man throughout the world." He was very much an internationalist—women’s rights, labor rights, believed in—hated colonialism, hated the British Empire and all of what Winston Churchill was fighting for in World War II. They were enemies. Roosevelt agreed with a lot of them, but Roosevelt was sickening and weakening, and the country was becoming more fearful of postwar issues. Wallace hung in there, although he had been robbed of the vice presidency by a fixed convention in ’44. He hung in there as secretary of commerce under Truman for as long as he could, fighting for peace after the war. Of course, he was called a communist and all that stuff, but he was really a liberal. And—
AMY GOODMAN: He ran for president in 1948.
OLIVER STONE: Yeah, as a third party.
AMY GOODMAN: But in ’44, he was knocked out, and Truman was the vice-presidential candidate of FDR.
OLIVER STONE: Yeah, and Wallace was the most popular man in the—at the Democratic convention. He had 65 percent of the Democratic voters liked him. And he almost won that first night, but he was blocked. The convention was closed down. Fire exits were closed, or something like that. Truman had 2 percent of the vote. Truman was a nonentity who overnight became—and didn’t know much about what Roosevelt’s plans were. But the—the Grand Alliance—
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of the ascension of Truman after FDR died in office?
OLIVER STONE: Yes. And he—
AMY GOODMAN: He is the one who dropped the bomb.
OLIVER STONE: Truman, within two weeks of becoming president after Roosevelt’s death, insulted the Soviet foreign minister. I mean, it was—within 11 days, our policy towards the Soviet Union shifted and stayed that way. And, you know, if you read all the revisionist historians who have written about this in depth, the United States took a hostile—Roosevelt had a vision, and it was a Grand Alliance between the Soviets and the British. Perhaps that was very hard to maintain. It takes a big man. Roosevelt was that kind of thinker. Wallace was. And we’re saying Kennedy was. And I urge you to rethink your—the fellow who said he was a warmonger, please, rethink Kennedy and look at everything here we’re talking about. This is a big issue. But we’ve lost that Grand Alliance. We’ve lost that—we’ve lost that leadership that’s bigger than simply ideological economic factions, is what we have in the United States. We’ve given in to what Peter called militarism, as you know very well.