Oliver Stone on 50th Anniversary of JFK Assassination & the Untold History of the United States
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AMY GOODMAN: When we come back from break, I want to ask you about this next chapter of American history, about surveillance and drones, about President Obama and where you think he stands, and also about this next project that you’ll be working on around Dr. King.
OLIVER STONE: Sure.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest for the hour, three-time Academy Award-winning director, producer, screenwriter, Oliver Stone, did Born on the Fourth of July and Platoon and Wall Street and Salvadorand JFK, as well as a 10-part series for Showtime called The Untold History of the United States, now out in DVD form with two extra chapters. Our guest also, Peter Kuznick, who co-wrote the book and worked—co-authored the series, a history professor at American University. Peter Kuznick, what this next chapter looks like today, what we are experiencing today in the United States?
PETER KUZNICK: It’s a continuation of the trends that Oliver and I were talking about from the 1890s up to the present. We had a lot of hope for Obama when he was elected in 2008. I guess we were somewhat naive, because Obama, rather than breaking with the patterns of American empire and American militarism, has continued most of them. Ari Fleischer, Bush’s press secretary, said that this is actually George W. Bush’s fourth term that we’re experiencing now. And in some ways that’s true, and disappointingly so. Obama, from the beginning, surrounded himself with very, very conservative advisers. His economic team was considered — The New York Times called them a constellation of Rubinites, followers of Robert Rubin. His military team, his defense policy, foreign policy, were mostly hawks—people like Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, General Jones—and his policies have reflected that.
Oliver and I see him as simply a more efficient manager of the American empire, not somebody who’s breaking with the empire. He doesn’t even think in different terms. For example, he recently called for a 13-year commemoration of the Vietnam War, in which we’re going to reposition our understanding of the Vietnam War. And that’s very, very dangerous. A recent poll showed that 51 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds now think that the Vietnam War was worth fighting, see the Vietnam War as an American interest. Those people our age, about 70 percent say the Vietnam War was a mistake or even worse. But the fact that younger people are not learning history and are seeing the Vietnam War in more positive light is symptomatic of what Oliver and are concerned about, that people’s understanding of history is distorted in such a way as to perpetuate the trends that we find very, very objectionable.