Oliver Stone was born in 1946 and raised as the conservative son of a New York stock broker and French mother. He saw combat in Vietnam before attending film school. Wounded twice, Oliver was decorated with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. «Emotionally scarred» by his Vietnam experience, he returned to the States, «very mixed up, very paranoid and very alienated». After the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, Mr. Stone realized that the U.S. government had been consistently lying to the American people, so he set out to direct «progressive films that make a difference». The award-winning director is globally known for his war-themed works. He is an eight-time Academy Award Nominee and a three-time Oscar winner. The famous American has made over 60 films totally, including classic ones like: JFK, Natural Born Killers, Platoon, and Nixon. Oliver Stone is a legend of the trade. But he has gone beyond film making recently and raised his voice to lash out against the US government and its policies. «People like me have tried to write something, put something out there–the questions, the sovereignty and the tyranny of the United States», he said. Feeling «sometimes very weak and helpless, with no chance», Stone believes that the best message he could give to the youth was to educate themselves «about the truth, to develop your consciousness as a young person».
Touring the Asia-Pacific in August 2013 in order to promote his revisionist The Untold History of the United States, Mr. Stone has denounced the U.S. military presence in the region. While visiting South Korea in the beginning of August, he went to Jeju Island where he joined protests against a proposed Republic of Korea naval base in Gangjeong. Although the base envisions only Korean military personnel being stationed there, critics of the project believe it is secretly being built for the United States to use.
Among several their several grievances, opponents of the base argue that its construction may trigger a naval arms race in the region, while increasing tensions with China. Although the U.S. military must first make a formal request, it is reasonable to assume that the U.S. Navy will eventually gain access to the base. According to Jeju Weekly, Stone spoke at an anti-base protest held by the Gangjeong Peace Movement to warn that the U.S. has «turned again to Asia» and the naval base on Jeju would be «on the frontline» in any U.S. military conflict with China. Stone, who is married to a Korean woman, also stressed to the crowd that the U.S. «needed enemies» in order to justify its global military presence. «Your fight is our fight», Stone told the gathered audience, according to Jeju Weekly.
Speaking to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on August 12, he also reportedly called on Japan to abrogate its defense treaty with the United States and instead forge peace ties with the People’s Republic of China. According to the Stars & Stripes, Stone told the Japanese crowd to «disassociate itself» from the U.S.-Japan security alliance. «They can be a great country again and a real broker for peace in Asia», he said. «Start by apologizing to China for what you did there and all the people you killed… and then China would suddenly look at Japan differently».
In Tokyo, Stone blamed Barack Obama for «institutionalizing» illegal spy programs, and praised the efforts of whistleblower Edward Snowden to alert people to the government’s violation of the Constitution. «The question is not 'do you have something to hide?' The question is whether we control government or the government controls us», He noted. (6) «Snowden is a hero to me», he said. «He sacrificed his well-being for the good of us all». He also praised Russia for giving Snowden asylum. «I think Putin did the right thing, and I’m proud of him for doing it», he said. «We need more countries to stand up to the U.S». «It's a disgrace that Obama is more concerned with hunting down Snowden than reforming these George Bush-style eavesdropping techniques», the Oscar-winning director told audiences at the Karlovy Vary international film festival in the Czech Republic this July. «To me Snowden is a hero because he revealed secrets that we should all know, that the United States has repeatedly violated the fourth amendment», Stone said.
In recent months Stone has also thrown his weight behind WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, visiting the activist at his base at the Ecuadorian embassy in London and criticizing the depiction of Assange in two upcoming Hollywood pictures. «Julian Assange did much for free speech», Stone has said. «And he is now being victimized by the abusers of the concept».
Core points of criticism
The celebrity believes the US system is «undemocratic, even after the arrival of Obama».
The January 13 the USA Today published the article by Oliver Stone and American University professor Peter Kuznick called Obama's Empire. The piece summed up the main points the incumbent US government’s policy is criticized for: (9)
– Obama approved the «surge» policy tripled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. By 2011, the United States was spending $110 billion on military operations. Even in view of the planned 2014 pullout, it is unclear what long-term impact Obama's Afghan «surge» will have.
– The President expands the global use of drones. While hitting al-Qaeda, the attacks spur anti-US sentiments and fuel jihadist recruitment.
– Obama has been hard on Iran, tightening sanctions and threatening military action if it pursues a nuclear program that was abandoned in 2003, as the intelligence community has consistently said, and soft on Israel involved in government's expansion of settlements undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.
– According to Stone, the U.S. is adopting a confrontational policy in Asia; the «pivot» is intended to confront China instead of constructively engaging it. The film maker thinks the U.S. has been militarizing the region with arms sales, joint naval operations, strengthened military alliances, deployment of troops to Australia, and a growing naval presence.
– The authors point out that Obama has preserved the most powerful and far-reaching empire in human history with an estimated 700 to 1,000 foreign bases and a military presence in 2008 in 151 of the 192 U.N. member states. Here Mr. Stone refers to the book called Dismantling the Empire: America's Last Best Hope (American Empire Project written by scholar Chalmers Johnson and published in 2010.
– The President has repudiated the attempt to achieve full spectrum dominance, including weaponization of space and militarization of cyberspace.
Untold history of US
In October 2012 Stone and Kuznick published the book called The Untold History of the United States, which slams Republicans and Democrats alike. The authors’ assessment of Obama’s presidency is tinged with disappointment. «The country Obama inherited was indeed in shambles, but Obama took a bad situation and, in certain ways, made it worse», Stone and Kuznick wrote.
According to the authors, Obama’s election «felt like a kind of expiation for the sins of a nation whose reputation had been sullied, as we have shown throughout this book, by racism, imperialism, militarism, nuclearism, environmental degradation and unbridled avarice». In some instances, they write, Obama went further than Bush’s White House toward anti-progressive policies.
«In 2011, Obama defied his own top lawyers, insisting that he did not need congressional approval under the War Powers Resolution to continue military activities in Libya», they continued lashing out against the Obama’s intervention in that country.
The book challenges the Obama administration on several points, emphasizing the encroachment on civil liberties, «Among the greatest disappointments to his followers was Obama’s refusal to roll back the expanding national security state that so egregiously encroached on American civil liberties». The President is said to continue the predecessor’s imperialist policies, «He was not offering a decisive break with over a century of imperial conquest. His was a centrist approach to better managing the American empire rather than advancing a positive role for the United States in a rapidly evolving world». The government defense spending also comes under harsh criticism, «While cutting defense spending, pulling combat forces out of Iraq and beginning the drawdown in Afghanistan represented a welcome retreat from the hypermilitarism of the Bush-Cheney years, they did not represent the sharp and definitive break with empire that the world needed to see from the United States».
To Russia Today – Bush state is here to stay
In December 2012 Mr. Stone and Mr. Kuznick joined Abby Martin in the Russia Today’s Breaking the Set program elucidating his views on the US policies.
Mr. Stone emphasized the fact the incumbent administration has not broken with the President Bush Jr. disastrous policies, «He has taken all the Bush changes he basically put them into the establishment, he has codified them. That is what is sad. So we are going into the second administration that is living outside the law and does not respect the law and foundations of our system». In the interview he adroitly put in a nutshell what many US intellectuals would support (and they do on Internet forum posts and publications), «The surveillance has not stopped; the incarceration without bringing people to trial has not stopped». According to him, «there are war policies, militarization policies. We are maintaining that. We are fighting wars now in Yemen, Afghanistan; we are keeping troops in Afghanistan. We have not cut back the things that we all found so odious about the Bush administration and Obama added some of his own».
* * *
There have always been celebrities protesting the US aggressive foreign policies. Remember Mark Twain turning against the annexation of Cuba and the Philippines?
Today following Edward Snowden's exposure of the NSA's massive clandestine surveillance program, celebrities do come out to protest the Obama administration’s policy. This July over 8000 human rights defenders, actors, directors, authors, former whistle-blowers, musicians, journalists, and activists, including a host of Hollywood's most recognized celebrities, have signed a letter asking Ecuador's President Correa to grant asylum to politically persecuted Edward Snowden. Tom Morello, Mark Ruffalo and Yoko Ono have done so over Twitter. The US President has taken the decision to rescind the September summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin letting know the Snowden’s case is the last straw. But it looks like it’s not Moscow, but rather his own people Mr. Obama finds himself to be at odds with and the gap-widening trend is in full swing and picking up.