Many people thought Oliver Stone’s days of rankling the establishment were over. Many people were wrong. His 2012 book and TV series, The Untold History of the United States, suggests the iconic filmmaker is renewing efforts to challenge the mainstream narrative regarding American exceptionalism, economic imperialism, and our government’s “nefarious involvement” in the Middle East.
To complete the 10-part documentary series and 750 page book, Stone collaborated with World War 2 scholar Peter Kuznick. The controversial filmmaker says that in assessing American history since the 1930s, it’s our involvement in the Middle East that really grabbed his attention.
“We’ve destabilized the entire region, created chaos. And then we blame ISIS for the chaos we have created,” Stone said.
According to Stone, the U.S. government’s destabilizing role actually goes back much further than ISIS. His new series pinpoints moments of American intrusion in the region as far back as the 1930s and follows it all the way to the CIA-backed Iranian coup in 1953, support for Afghanistan-based, anti-Soviet Union militants in the 1980s, George H.W. Bush’s Iraq invasion of 1990, and present-day efforts in Iran, Syria, and other countries.
Stone etched his way into the hearts and minds of the American public in the mid-to-late 1980s with two films depicting powerful experiences from the Vietnam War. Platoon and Born on the 4th of July represent Stone’s confusion over his own service in the war, for which he earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.
Stone’s JFK famously questioned the mainstream narrative of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, endearing the filmmaker to conspiracy theory circles for decades with a fictional account of a lawyer bringing the U.S. government to trial for its role in the assassination.
In recent years, Oliver Stone has received less acclaim for films like World Trade Center, which failed to question the mainstream narrative of 9/11, and W., which gave relatively gentle treatment to George W. Bush’s presidency.
Stone’s 2012 series, The Untold History of the United States, is a return to the intellectual form of one of his earliest successes, Salvador, which was strongly critical of the U.S.-supported right wing military of the Salvadoran Civil War. The last episode in the series is called Bush & Obama: Age of Terror. It covers the following subjects:
- The Project For A New American Century, a neoconservative think tank that called for a Pearl Harbor-type event to catalyze military action in the Middle East
- The tyranny of neoconservatives who pushed us to war with Iraq using faulty intelligence
- The rushing through of the Patriot Act, which stripped Americans of a wide variety of civil liberties while bestowing legal precedent to the new surveillance state
- The national brainwashing and fear-mongering of the War on Terror
- Invading Afghanistan to defeat some of the same terrorists the U.S. armed and trained two decades earlier
- Unconstitutional torture and interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay
- The mainstream media’s facilitation of war through propaganda and corporate collusion
- Obama selling out to J.P. Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, General Electric, and Big Pharma
- The $700 billion financial bailout paid for by workers, pensioners, homeowners, small businessmen, and students with loans
- The rise of CEO compensation amid the collapse of the middle class
- Obama’s failure to deliver hope, change, or transparency, his prosecution of government whistleblowers, his fortification of Bush’s national security state (though he repudiated the unilateralism of Bush, he doubled down on troops and, according to Stone, “lacked the courage of a John F. Kennedy”)
- Obama’s targeted drone strikes on Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia (includes a breathtaking clip of his remark to troops: “Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources….We do it because it’s right.”
Stone says his documentary series is an alternative approach to American history, one he hopes will fight the“educational crime” of exposing today’s schoolchildren to the propaganda of standard textbooks and television programs.
On this note, Stone doesn’t mince words:
“American exceptionalism has to be driven out of our curriculums. We’re not under threat. We are the threat.”