The Death of Oliver Stone’s Good Soviet Union

Editor’s note: The following is the eighth installment of a series of articles Frontpage is running in response to Oliver Stone’s neo-Communist documentary series, “The Untold History of the United States.” 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 8 of the series.

In episode 8 of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United State, Stone says:

“Right wing forces have always operated freely and openly in the dark chasms of American life where racism, militarism, imperialism and blind devotion to private enterprise festered.”

Accompanying this is footage from Birth of a Nation. A film that Thomas Dixon Jr., author of “The Clansman”, the book that it was based on, screened for President Woodrow Wilson with the intention that it “would transform every man in the audience into a good Democrat!” Following that is footage of American soldiers marching off to WWI under a Democratic president. The choice of footage once again reminds us that Oliver Stone’s knowledge of history is as scrambled as his brain.

Over this confused juxtaposition of history, the narration goes on to inform us that the same forces that spawned the Nazi Party and the McCarthyites, a group that included Robert F. Kennedy, also created the Tea Party. It’s a reminder that the difference between Oliver Stone’s “Untold History of the United States” and a YouTube conspiracy video about the Freemasons is that the latter doesn’t have a slot on Showtime. Yet.

Topping all that, the soporific narration, borrowed from a PBS special, which just classed together Adolf Hitler, RFK, Woodrow Wilson and Michele Bachmann, goes on to accuse these “dark forces” of being ignorant of history. And we’re less than 3 minutes into the madness that is Episode 8 of the worst thing that Showtime has ever aired. And that includes Piranha and Scream 4.

Episode 8, “Reagan, Gorbachev & the Third World: Revival of Fortune,” begins by reimagining Nixon as a progressive who established the EPA, supported the ERA and strengthened the Voting Rights Act. The logic of this might make more sense if the Nixon Administration hadn’t just been described as being on a mission to move America far to the right.

But consistency doesn’t matter to Oliver Stone. Within 40 seconds, Nixon goes from an ally of the KKK to a civil rights leader, just to set up the omnipresent claim that the next Republican president was the one to really move the Republican Party to the right. This is the reality-free narrative that the left constantly embraces, but it has never been quite as reality-free as it is in the hands of America’s leading reality-free filmmaker.

6 minutes in and the vast right-wing conspiracy is on the table. “Nixon’s rage had become their own,” the narrator whispers. This rage was apparently expressed by creating think-tanks like Heritage and AEI promoting deregulation and privatization; probably the least angry example of rage in the entire history of anger.

“The moneyed class,” the narrator hisses, like a low-rent Marxist, “were back.” They had apparently gone off to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard and hobnob with the Kennedys, but now they were back and angrily creating think-tanks.

Carter ushers in a brief period of idealistic utopia, complete with appeasement of the USSR, but then the camera zooms to Zbigniew Brzezinski. Ominous music plays. The Trilateral Commission logo appears on the screen while the narrator informs us about its conspiracies on behalf of the “World Capitalist Order.” And we’re back in YouTube territory.

Like most conspiracy theorists, Stone is sloppy. He spends a minute on the Trilateral Commission and then pretends that the American Embassy was seized because the Shah had been admitted to the US for medical treatment. It’s silly, but that’s what history as a Neo-Communist conspiracy cartoon looks like.

Every Anti-American country and group, whether it’s the USSR invading Afghanistan or the Iranians taking American hostages, is depicted as careful and forbearing. On the other side of the ocean however, Uncle Sam stomps around in cowboy boots guzzling the blood of the oppressed like cheap whiskey.

The Soviet Union wanted peace and therefore had no choice but to invade Afghanistan. While the United States undermined the Soviet Union and backed Islamic militants, which led, we are told, to September 11.

“The Untold History of the United States” is full of such overreaching generalizations, but short on historical detail. No distinction is made between the Arab fighters and the Afghan fighters that the United States was supporting. No mention is made of the fact that the Soviet Union ruthlessly and brutally murdered its own puppet in a senseless assault. Basic pieces of information like that have no place in Oliver Stone’s expensive Showtime YouTube video.

Episode 8 depicts Reagan as an ignorant buffoon. Carter’s evil anti-Communist puppet master was Brzezinski. Reagan’s evil puppet master turns out to be William Casey, a man so awful that the narrator informs us, while serial killer music plays, that he had multiple statues of the Virgin Mary in his Long Island mansion.

Casey believed that the USSR was involved in international terrorism; the narrator however gravely informs us that the Soviets actually disapproved of international terrorism. Such a claim barely had any justification being made in the 80s. After the fall of the USSR, when there are volumes of documents listing the amounts of money and types of training that the KGB provided to terrorist groups, it’s just a naked lie.

The Sandinistas are heroes and the Contras are villains, along with every leftist gang in Latin America. To prove his point, Stone rolls footage from his own movie, Salvador, as we’re treated to James Woods emoting in a fictional movie that Stone seems unable to distinguish from the real thing.

And that’s just the beginning of the confusion. Hezbollah bombs the Marine barracks, and with no explanation for why the Marines were in Lebanon, the episode insists that Reagan then dispatched troops to Grenada to restore America’s wounded pride. That’s stupid even by leftist standards.

In Grenada, the narration informs us, using footage from Clint Eastwood’s Heartbreak Ridge, 19 soldiers were killed fighting “poorly armed Cuban construction workers.” Elsewhere Reagan oppresses poor air traffic controllers while throwing lavish parties, illustrated by footage from Heaven’s Gate, a movie about the 1890s. Most YouTube conspiracy videos are more plausible and have better narrative logic.

Still Stone must sooner or later explain the collapse of the Soviet Union. And he does this by painting Mikhail Gorbachev as the true hero, another Henry Wallace, who genuinely wanted peace and disarmament. Missile defense, we are told was a pipe dream, on a television show filmed in the age of Iron Dome. The USSR knew that SDI could never work, we are told, yet for some reason refused to make peace unless Reagan gave it up.

Gorbachev becomes the courageous visionary leader, while Reagan is just another puppet of the imperialistic American empire.

None of this is history. It’s barely even a conspiracy theory. It’s long, yet short on details, broken up into scrambled bits and illustrated with movie scenes to add even more unreality. None of it hangs together. All of it depends on accepting Stone’s premise that America is run by an evil conspiracy, but the rest of the world isn’t. If you accept that, then the story makes sense. If you question it, then it all falls apart.

The Untold History of the United States doesn’t depend on merely assuming moral equivalency between the US and the USSR, but the moral superiority of the USSR. That assumption is never backed up with facts. It’s innate in the story that we are told. It is a bias so baked in that Stone is incapable of recognizing his own logical flaws or the clumsiness of his storytelling. You either agree with him that the USSR was morally superior to the United States. Or you are a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy.

Related articles on Stone’s series:

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

2. David Horowitz’s analysis of the meaning behind the warm reception of Stone’s Kremlin propaganda.

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

4. Daniel Flynn’s review of “Roosevelt, Truman and Wallace,” the second episode.

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

6. Bruce Thornton’s review of “The Cold War: 1945-1950,” the 4th episode.

7. Matthew Vadum’s review of “The 50s: Eisenhower, The Bomb & The Third World,” the 5th episode.

8. Larry Schweikart’s review of “The Cuban Missile Crisis,” the 6th episode.

9. Larry Schweikart’s review of “Johnson, Nixon & Vietnam: Reversal of Fortune,” the 7th episode.

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  • Cat K

    This seems to serve as an impressionistic emotion generating program (No, I'm not watching it). Like much on the left, facts are unnecessary: America = bad, Communist = good. I guess I should cancel Showtime channel. It offers very little that is watchable anyway.

    • EthanP

      Even in college, I was exposed to the "the US was racist because we used the A-bomb on Japan and not on our fellow white Germans". When I would point out that the Trinity test (the prototype blast) was post German surrender, there was no answer.

      • Mick

        Stone never said the bomb was used on Japan because of racism – the reasoning given was for the US to show strength and gain a better bargaining position with the Soviets. The racism element was seperate.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Missile defense, we are told was a pipe dream, on a television show filmed in the age of Iron Dome. The USSR knew that SDI could never work, we are told, yet for some reason refused to make peace unless Reagan gave it up."

    This is the kind of blatant clue that really leaves no excuse for anyone who buys this BS propaganda. It's not even the first one mentioned in the article.

    Leftists. What next? Their delusions know no bounds.

    • reader

      Actually, we were told by Gorbachev's former aids and the former KGB types that then the Chief of Warsaw Pact Military General Akhromeev had been mortified by the prospect of trying to counter the development and eventual deployment of various stages of SDI. He had been the one who would urge Gorbachev to pin everything on this issue.

  • Stephan

    Hitler is dead. The communist Soviet Union changed the name and escaped to history. But other socialist utopias are still there: North Korea, Cuba, Israel.

    • Mary Sue

      wait wait wait, you are lumping Israel in with North Korea and Cuba? It may be a little bit socialist but come on.

    • Lady_Dr

      Israel was formerly socialist, but no more. Most of the kitzbutzs are gone, people don't want to join them anymore and that era (what is left of it) is dying fast. They still have national health care, and a few social programs but on the whole it is a free-wheeling, prosperous capitalist country and loving it! You need to update your history. And it was NEVER, EVER in the same league with North Korea and Cuba.

  • john butala

    Yes, the United States is such a horrible place that millions of non-Americans express their hatred and disapproval of America by immigrating to the U.S., legally and illegally, by the millions every year. Conversely, Cuba and North Korea are such wonderful places that millions of people do not immigrate to those countries because doing so would minimize the amount of wonderful things the citizens of those Marxist nations could enjoy for themselves.There's only so much tree bark to go around. And of course Stone himself, to show his hatred of the rich, capitalist, filmmaker lifestyle, only allows himself four or five mansions to live in and a fleet of expensive automobiles and other niceties. He only lives like that (thanks to capitalism) to show his hatred of material things. (snicker)

  • EthanP

    The great tragedy of all this is that we no longer teach US History in our K-12. Thus several generations have only the distorted Holywood "the USA is the Evil" version. I'm amazed how many "intelligent" people believe this Stone(d) drivel is "History".

  • tagalog

    “Right wing forces have always operated freely and openly in the dark chasms of American life…"

    If I gave a rat's patoot about Oliver Stone's thoughts, I would ask him to explain that remark. They operate freely and openly in the dark? Huh?

    Did Oliver run afoul of some Agent Orange or something at some point in his past?

    • bob

      the above sentence makes no sense…
      this sounds better:
      "Oliver Stoned is so smart, that his idiocy beats many other idiots on the red left"

  • Jim

    What Gorbachev planned for Russia is what the liberals want for the US "Communism with a Clean Face"

    • reader

      It wasn't that clean to the bitter end. He authorized bloody military crackdowns on protesters in Lithuania, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

      • Eva

        Armenia actually was the one who took the blunt of his punishment.


    These people NEVER stop with their outright treachery.
    They do this sh*t in the name of 'free speech.'

  • BLJ

    Stone is a turd.

  • Ghostwriter

    My mom recently recorded this and a few other episodes. I don't know why she did. This show would insult even non-communist leftists.

  • Eva

    Oliver Stone is a self-absorbed, nasty pseudo-filmmaker, completely devoid of any shred of talent. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I used to see his breed gleefully snapping pictures of the Soviet "accomplishments", mostly from behind the windows of tourist buses. They were set up in the best hotels, fed the best food and treated to the best entertainment – all of which was not accessible by us, the commoners. I always wondered, though, why the hell they chose not to stay. Hey, I would have loved to trade places with them. They stay for good to enjoy all the bread lines and KGB harrassment, and we move to the U.S. that was, is and always will be the best thing in my life. God bless the U.S. and protect it from this endless evil of socialism

    • Lady_Dr

      Eva, please, please get your story out there – you can inform these foolish twits. In Florida the Cubans are the best Americans because they know what communism is and can do to people. I don't know where you are but please, please get your message out to everyone you meet and urge every former Soviet citizen you know to do the same.

  • Ghostwriter

    Thanks a lot Eva,for telling us your story. It's a shame those like Oliver Stone couldn't hear it. It's something he and those like him needs to hear.

  • Ron Maimon

    Considering his time constraints, Oliver Stone is accurate in his history, and refreshingly so. On the other hand, you are saying mentally defective things. Doing this kind of propaganda online is like trying to blot out the sun with a magic marker. It is best to be honest about the past.

    Regarding “Birth of a Nation”, in the 1920s, the Democrats were the party of Southern racism, so there is no contradiction. Democrats doesn’t mean left, not before FDR, and not really after FDR. Stone would say Kennedy qualifies, but only from 1963 on, and there isn’t much to judge, so it’s not clear.

    “youtube territory” is a silly insult, youtube is freer than television and therefore collectively more accurate. You would be better off insulting a youtube video as being in television territory.

    The conspiracies you imagine in Stone’s documentary are not small-room conspiracies, they are structural Marxism. Structural Marxism just means that you are supposed to look at the decisions of a political entity like the US as produced from a weighted average of the self-interest of the members with the most capital. The political orders are subservient to the wealthiest class. This minority decides what foreign policy direction to take, and it is based on class groupthink. The media then sells this politics to the public. That’s not a conspiracy, because the rich folks genuinely believe their own shit, they don’t have enough common experience to see when they are wrong.

    That doesn’t mean that they are always wrong, they are sometimes right, it just means that there is a structural bias there, and the structural bias makes for automatic propaganda against any socialist or Marxist movement, or any type of nationalization. One must compensate for this structural bias in order to get a sense of accurate history, and Stone compensates.

    Aside from FDR, Oliver Stone would say Kennedy too, US administrations worked primarily to maintain the ability of capital to manage oversees resources for profit. This means that any regime that attempted to expropriate property was an enemy, and any regime that invited Western investment was a friend. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just is what it is, this is what happened. Many right-wing fascist leaders were supported over more popular socialist leaders. Many left-wing movements were undermined, brutal ones like the Khmer Rouge, and more benign ones like the Sandanistas.

    This was supposed to counter Soviet supported aggression, meaning various socialist and communist movements all over the world. But the Soviets were just not very good at supporting these movements covertly, nowhere near as good as the Americans suspected. The socialist movements were nearly always home-grown. Even if you think they were mistaken, you need to recognize their independence. This is especially clear today, the Soviet Union is long gone, but socialists in South America win elections.

    What the USSR often did is to support the movements with jawboning, and then try to take over by manipulating their leadership with promises of oil and financial support, until they had a friendly government. This didn’t work as well as CIA covert operations, which could work through a network of local businessmen, who always have more power than local guerillas in the mountains.

    Regarding star wars, the idea of missile defense protecting the US from a full-scale nuclear attack was a addle-brained fantasy, but at least it was an original idea. Physicists in the US, from Hans Bethe on down, unanimously said it could not work, and they were right. In “unanimously”, I am excluding Edward Teller, who was trying to get research money for an H-bomb powered X-ray laser, and excluding also the recepients of missile defense grants. This politicization of science was deplorable, and became worse under Bush II. A missile defense, as many people pointed out, even if it could be deployed, would be much more cheaply fooled with decoy missiles. It would never never be able to hit 10,000 missiles, not even at a .01% success rate. Intercepting one missile, or a few, on the other hand, is marginally possible, although difficult. This is what iron dome does. To conflate the two types of defenses is imbecilic. Stone is right about star wars.

    The Soviets didn’t oppose star-wars because they were afraid of not being able to thwart the defense, they were afraid of an arms race in space, which they didn’t want and couldn’t afford. They also suspected that the point of the thing was to make a nuclear first-strike seem safer, regardless of the reality.

    The USSR in the later parts of the cold war was much more benign than the US, partly because it was weaker, but partly because it indirectly was on the side of indigenous rights movements. The US supported the worst regimes in the world to stop communism from spreading. The historical memory is preserved by Oliver Stone, and since he is not making advocacy for the future, I think it is best if you sucked it up and accepted it, because with time, history will get it right.

  • plenty

    Greenfield, a Shill-man Journalism Fellow at the Neo-Con Freedom Center, presents a rather skewed although predictable Neo_Conistic view of history according to the Bush family. Stone’s version is accurate and pulls no punches for either side. Greenfield’s “group” supports the “American Exceptional-ism” version of history, which is unfortunate.