Through Oliver Stone’s Looking Glass

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of numerous books, including "Blue Collar Intellectuals: When the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America," now available from ISI Books. Read Daniel's blog at www.flynnfiles.com.


Editor’s note: The following is the second installment of a series of articles Frontpage will be running in the days ahead in response to Oliver Stone’s neo-Communist documentary series, “The Untold History of the United States,” currently airing Mondays on Showtime. Frontpage will be reviewing each episode of the Stone series, exposing the leftist hateful lies about America and setting the record straight. Below is a review of Part 2 of Stone’s series.

Oliver Stone talks of the Soviet Union “liberating” nations during World War II in his new history series. But Joseph Stalin didn’t free any nations. He conquered them, just as his erstwhile ally Adolf Hitler had done. The lion that has scared the hyena away from your body hasn’t liberated you. He’s freed himself to feast on you alone. Surely the Czech or Polish people didn’t view Stalin as their liberator. But pay-cable viewers seven decades removed from the fact learn that he was.

Showtime claims that its ten-part Oliver Stone documentary The Untold History of the United States “demands to be watched again and again.” The question is: how should it be “watched again and again”? From the inside of a barbed-wire enclosed campground? Strapped into a Ludovico technique apparatus? On a state television loop?

In the series’ second installment, “Roosevelt, Truman, & Wallace,” Stone alleges a grand conspiracy to deny Henry Wallace a second term as ailing Franklin Roosevelt’s vice president. Forgetting that the American people largely agreed with Wallace’s predecessor’s assessment (“not worth a bucket of warm piss”) of the office, Stone depicts the replacement of Wallace on the ticket with Missouri Senator Harry Truman as a subversion of the democratic process. But neither the democrats, nor the Democrats, cared at the time as much as Stone does now. In judging the ticket switching consequential, Stone surely isn’t in crackpot territory. Within six months of 1944’s election, President Roosevelt would be dead. Wallace, whose “dear guru” letters to a cult leader, employment of Alger Hiss and other Communists at the Agriculture Adjustment Administration, and pursuit of wholesale pig slaughter and crop destruction to inflate farm prices all pegged him as a flake, would have made a frightening commander in chief (and not just to farm animals). But Stone thinks otherwise.

The documentary posits that Wallace was Roosevelt’s true heir, and his replacement on the ticket with the rube from Missouri perverted the course that the 32nd president intended for America. If Wallace had remained vice president, then the Cold War, the Korean War, and much unpleasantness would have been avoided. Counterfactual history seduces so thoroughly because it proves impenetrable to counterfactuals. It’s easier to defend what we wished happened than what did happen.

Since Roosevelt, unlike Wallace, was an actual rather than a pretend president, Stone spends much time defending many of the least defensible aspects of his twelve-year reign. “In truth,” Stone claims about the Big Three negotiations, “the United States and Britain had lost their leverage by failing to open up a second front until very late in the war. So at the end of the day FDR didn’t give anything at Yalta that Stalin didn’t already have.” He judges Roosevelt as “unfairly attacked for capitulating to Stalin.” He never mentions the Stalinists advising Roosevelt to capitulate to Stalin in the shaping of the postwar world. Such influence is incomprehensible to Stone, despite the filmmaker’s insistence that ravenous advisors, rather than the sick and weary president, were to blame for decisions such as ditching Wallace from the presidential ticket.

Stone imagines the cabal behind jettisoning Wallace as behind the bellicose policy toward the USSR that emerged following the war. “It is important to note that many of the most vociferous critics of the Soviet Union shared a similar class background and a deep hatred of anything that smacked of socialism,” Stone asserts as a grainy graphic displays aristocrats dancing many decades earlier. He notes that Averell Harriman was the “son of a railroad tycoon,” James Forrestal “made a fortune on Wall Street,” and Edward Stettinius was “chairman of the board of the nation’s largest cooperation.” Stone ominously claims that the trio joined in a conspiracy with “wealthy international bankers” to derail socialism. The film notes that Truman inherited these men from Roosevelt’s cabinet, an inconvenient truth dismissed with the assertion that the 32nd president didn’t pay any mind to the men whom he casts as controlling Truman’s mind.

Heroic music rings in the background when Franklin Roosevelt appears. The music turns dark and ominous when the discussion turns to Harry Truman. The filmmakers intend these sonic cues to induce the audience to think Truman=bad, Roosevelt=good. Instead, they make us judge the filmmakers as crude propagandists. Watching a documentary about the 1940s doesn’t require us to adopt the age’s political naivety.

The documentary cites everything from Truman’s height to his poor eyesight to explain his antipathy to Communism. It contends that “Truman did not seem capable of comprehending the pain and suffering of the Soviet people or their motives.” But it’s the documentarian who seems incapable of comprehending this. Nowhere in part two of Stone’s documentary—I have not watched the rest—does he mention Stalin’s Show Trials, the famine he manufactured in the Ukraine, or even the Gulag. No doubt the Missouri haberdasher had these cruelties in mind when he sought to stop Communist expansion. Truman, like all Cold War presidents who followed, also discerned the difference between the Communist ruling class and the “Soviet people” that Stone strangely credits for the expansionary policies of one Soviet person, Stalin. Certainly “the motives” of an ordinary Russian and the bloodthirsty Georgian differed greatly. But Stone speaks of national motives as if they encompassed the people outside of the Politburo, as well.

The Untold History of the United States is a misnomer. This history of the United States has been told again and again—in Russian.

Related articles on Stone’s series:

1. Bruce Thornton’s introduction to this Frontpage series.

2. Matthew Vadum’s review of Stone’s first episode.

3. Daniel Greenfield’s review of “The Bomb,” the third episode.

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.


  • UP OP

    —Begins 50 years too LATE
    ——-side steps the nature, practice and legacy of Global USURY
    ————likewise the awesomely horrific agenda for capstone EUGENICS

    Further, even such as it is, the treatment seems half-baked and the
    narration really is poor.

    Not even any fresh,hitherto unseen footage.

    Such is the 'History' from Olver —CAP—-Stone. . .

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Global USURY"

    Poor YOU

  • Mike Giles

    What I find fascinating about Leftoids, when they talk about a "Second Front" and Soviet misery, is that they always ignore the fact that the Soviet Union was Hitler's ally – which allowed him to defeat France and drive Britain from the continent. The Soviets were Hitler's ally while Britain fought on alone. And yet when Hitler turned on the Soviets, the allies were supposed to immediately drop every other strategic consideration and come to the aid of the Soviets.

  • clarespark

    Most if not all students in public schools and the better universities are learning that the Soviet Union was America's ally in the struggle against fascism. Eric Hobsbawm, supported by such as George Soros, is now lauded as a great historian because he perpetrated the same narrative as Oliver Stone, who is mentioned here in a recent blog: http://clarespark.com/2012/12/22/my-oppositional-…. Most Americans have no idea what the Popular Front against facism entailed nor do they know that it was the communists who started it. "My Opposiitonal Defiant Disorder and Eric Hobsbawm."

    • tagalog

      The Soviets WERE allied with the "United Nations" (including the United States) from June 1941 to the end of the war against the fascists.

      • clarespark

        Who doesn't know that? My point is that Hobsbawm gave the Soviets almost entire credit for winning the war, based on their casualties and ignoring the role the US played in supplying them with arms. He diminishes the West and Israel at every opportunity. But you are correct in that my comment above did not bring out that EH claims that the Soviets won the war almost by themselves.

  • nonstopca

    I wouldn't watch one of stones movies, if he payed me to…..

    • Lucifer Dye

      He won't — and the word is "paid."

      • aspacia

        Thanks for the spelling correction Lucifer–from an English teacher.

  • Infidel Task Force

    This is what you get when you have a left wing liberal with a huge salary and a big soapbox. Its repulsive how one man change history and no one in power dares to say a word.

    • Greg

      Totally agree with this person. We have become a nation that bobs our heads like sheep whenever a rich, popular, actor, producer makes a leftest comment. We still haven't learned our lessons have we my fellow Americans? Are we to agree with Linburg because he thought Hitler was doing a good thing in Poland? Maybe Socialism worked great for Mr. Joseph Stalin, but 20+ million dead Russians might not agree? Should we go back to teaching about inferior races in our Left Wing colleges like they did until 1939. (Eugenics….Look it up Mr. Stone…..)If I see Mr. Stones name attached to anything now. It will not be watched or read ever.

  • John Wilson

    Surely it's true that there was a "grand conspiracy" of conservative party bosses against Wallace, so I'm not sure what your objection is, except to Stone's optimistic dreams of what a progressive president might have actually been able to accomplish.

    As for Stalin, it's very hard to argue that Stone is an apologist for Stalin, considering that he refers to the "terrorist tactics" and "atrocities" of this "dictator." Of course, Stalin committed so many murderous crimes that no documentary could fully cover all of them.

  • Snow White

    Nobody mentioned the name of Erskine Bowles as one of the Communists in the Agriculture Dept when they were killing pigs and burning potatoes when the average American couldn't have bought a piece of pork or a potato if they had only cost a penny, because many Americans didn't even have a penny. Nor did that Erskin Bowles' name come up when Clinton hired another Erskine Bowlesas one of his advisers shortly after he took office in 1992. Clinton's Erskine Bowles ran the Entergy Corp.a company which sold "obselete" military equipment to China . When the White House was asked for the name of someone in th Pentagon who could verify that the equipment was "obselete" no name was forthcomming. Bowles' job in the Clinton Administration was to transfer mility equipment directly form the US arsenals to China. Both Clinton's were Chairman Mao (Little Red Book waving) loving Communists. Thats why Clinton gave china most favored nation status which resulted in the transferrenof our manufacturing base to China.

    • greg

      Finally a person who knows the Clinton background. No one talks about it ever. I looked them up when he was elected. Very scary. Many lives ruined for their political careers. A beautiful college picture of Bill and all the Marxcist/Socialist friends was posted at that time. Yeah, one man, goodbye American manufacturing. Hey, at least he is not a liar, cheat, fraud right? And no one cares. They keep paying to here the man speak.

      • aspacia

        This also true of the Bush family & the Nazis. BTW, Roosevelts made their bankroll during the Opium Wars–Shhhhh–mustn't tell.. Joe Kennedy made bank with stock market manipulation and bootlegging. There are so many skeletons on both sides.

        Then again, what country had uncorrupted leaders–look at history–none.

  • Ghostwriter

    I watched very little of Oliver Stone's new series. Basically,it's the same nonsense we've seen from people like him for years. They scream "America is evil,America is bad,America is evil." That's their mantra and they haven't stopped yet. The truth about American history at this time is that it's a far better nation than those like Stone ever give it credit for and many around the world probably know that.

  • Name ..jaybird.

    If the U.S. would pass along the financial cost of our war efforts in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq,

    and Afghanistan to China it could eliminate our debt crisis and pass responsibility to the

    Country that has been the greatest beneficiary of those initiatives.

    As the Syrian crisis plays out and Saudi Arabia and Qatar are bearing tremendous

    costs we see that they are first in line to pay and will be first to reap the rewards.

    Muslims slaughtering Muslims makes a great Xmas Passion Play.

    • Lucifer Dye

      "Muslims slaughtering Muslims" — ah yes, the compassionate spirit of Christmas courtesy of the American right.

      • Ghostwriter

        Well,Mr. Dye. Most Muslims have little compassion for Americans. You shouldn't be surprised if that dislike is reciprocated.

  • warren raymond

    Stone is nevertheless a dangerous ideologue and a fanatical commie. He should be shunned.

  • Lucifer Dye

    As Churchill said, "I'd ally myself with Satan if he was fighting the Nazis." As somebody who was living in London during the Second World War, you people make me smile wryly — it's so easy for all of you armchair tacticians to say what could or should have been done at the time. Wasn't so much fun actually living through those times.

    • tagalog

      When Harry S. Truman was a Senator, after June 1941 he advocated the U.S. sending Lend-Lease to whoever was losing the German-Soviet war on the theory that both Stalin and Hitler were anathema and it was best to supply the losing side in their conflict so that they could continue bleeding each other white until both were destroyed.

      Henry Morgenthau, in response to FDR's wish for his senior advisors to come up with a plan for postwar Germany, offered the Morgenthau Plan, in which Germany was stripped of its industrial capacity and transformed into a wholly agricultural country, where the Germans would be cowherds in a picturesque land and would lack the capacity to rebuild a modern armed force for war in the future.

      Prime Minister Churchill made a remark to the effect that the platoon leader of the unit that captured Hitler should order Hitler summarily executed against the nearest standing wall. No stinkin' war crimes trials for Winnie, by golly.

      Those ideas got scrapped. Too bad; hindsight is 20-20.

      • aspacia

        tag,

        We were happy to see Hitler and Uncle Joe slugging it out; it gave us time.

  • HIP OP

    AND how can one examine 20th century history without
    laying out the legacy and practice —and nature of actuarial psychopathy
    as embodied in unaccountable, capstone USURY? –er, we meant banking.

    DON'T you find it the least bit ODD this 'facet' of control is —NEVER— examined?
    much less called out?

  • tagalog

    I don't suppose Mr. Stone's program deals with the fact that Stettinius, Harriman, and Forrestal were New Dealers and Democrats, progressives all.

    The U.S. had the Balkans, Luxembourg, and Belgium (along with the Brits), but gave them up right away, without a murmur, at the end of the war. We even sent Russians, who didn't want to return to the USSR to be tortured, sent to prison, and killed, back to the Soviet Union on Stalin's demand. I suppose there's some sort of difference that Poland, Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and others, bordered (sort of, in a few cases) on the USSR, and the USSR needed them as "buffer states" against Germany going crazy again.

  • tagalog

    Who's Mark?

    What's a stori?

  • drush76

    Frankly, I'm enjoying Stone's documentary. However, I find his portrayal of JFK a little too ideal.

  • Hugh Beaumont

    I'm barely getting through the first episode. It is so glib and full of (well, I have to avoid adjectives) nonsense, I feel like saying, "Who died and left you boss?" A man can look up at the stars, and sew together any pattern he wants – but that's just his desires and imaginings run amok.