While the intelligence community, Congress and the press are investigating alleged attempts at Russia's intervention in the presidential elections in the United States, Stone represents Putin's side in this story.
Conversation with the winner of three Academy Awards by Oliver Stone - he is a veteran of the Vietnam War, awarded the Purple Heart medal, and the creator of some of the greatest Hollywood anti-war films - was held in his office in Santa Clara, Monica, the day of the celebration of the landing of Allied troops in Europe. A distinctive feature of the cinematographic works of Oliver Stone is the creation of artistic alternative narratives, which was set against him not only by government forces, but also by the mainstream media.
In 1986, when President Ronald Reagan was conducting a secret Iran-Contras operation, Stone showed the opposite side of this story in Central America in the spectacular film "El Salvador". Later that year, as well as in 1989, with the help of his films on the Vietnam War, the Oscar for the best film Platoon and the nomination for the best film of the tape Born on 4-th of July (Born on The Fourth of July) - Stone took up militarism with the help of his already classic works, telling that war is hell.
While Reagan noisily advertised rampant capitalism, Stone in his 1987 movie "Wall Street" on the screens questioned the moral ideal expressed by the phrase "greed is good." Perhaps the most memorable work of Stone was released in 1991, his film "John F. Kennedy. Shots in Dallas. " He was sharply critical of the report of the Warren Commission on the murder of President John F. Kennedy, as well as the involvement of US intelligence agents in this murder. And in his 2012-released colossal 796-minute "Untold History of the United States", Stone presented among other things his detailed view of the Cold War.
Now Stone returned with his documentary "Interview with Putin." While the intelligence community, the Congress and the press are investigating possible Russian intervention in the presidential elections in the United States, as well as about a possible conspiracy during the election campaign and Trump's presidency, Stone, using his unique access to the Russian president, dares to present the side Vladimir Putin in this story.
In the course of an intriguing interview with a correspondent of the Nation magazine, Stone says that, from his point of view, is Putin's position. We talked about Edward Snowden, neomakkartizme, Syria, Donald Trump, Ukraine, the mainstream media, Hillary Clinton, Julian Assange, Bernie Sanders, the return of the Cold War, Megin Kelly, war and peace, and Putin. This interview was edited and shortened for more clarity.
Nation: Let's talk about the schedule for the documentary "Interview with Putin."
Oliver Stone: Work on the documentary "Interview with Putin" began in June 2015. At this time we just finished shooting the film about Snowden - we headed to Moscow to shoot the last scene with Ed Snowden. We stayed for a few more days and visited the Kremlin, where we met with Mr. Putin for our first interview. Then we stayed for another two days, and we had several interviews. We returned to Russia early next year, and then in the middle of 2016 - and every time there were several interviews - in Sochi ... at the dacha - we used any opportunity that arose. His working schedule was very dense; he works late. Often he left at one o'clock in the morning and said: "I have another meeting."
Putin adheres to strict discipline, and at night falls asleep. Every morning he looked fresh - he never got tired, unlike me. He is very, very disciplined, maybe it comes from judo ... He was always in a suit with a tie and looked very well groomed, regardless of the time of day. He never once had to visit the toilet ... He lives in this style for 16 years. I mentioned how Reagan was doing things - he does not shift anything to others, he delves into the very essence of every question. This impressed me ... Putin is a very consistent, conservative leader.
The fourth trip - we hoped that it was all over ... It was not planned - it was already after the elections in the United States, a whole new set of acute issues arose. Therefore, we agreed on a trip in February 2017 and removed the final part, after Trump came to power. It has a lot of time given to Trump - but it's not just about today's speech, there's a glimpse into the past that covers the period of 17 years, it's about Putin's tenure as president, which is very important for understanding the current situation.
Americans tend to judge on the basis of the current moment - headlines, news. But this does not work - politics, relations between countries require a certain time perspective ... Unfortunately, we do not have such an opportunity, because our world of news requires an immediate response, as Bush was forced to react quickly: "I looked into his soul and realized that This is a person I can trust "... This kind of relationship is built only for the camera.
He could interrupt this work at any time. If the interviews were boring, and my questions are pointless, then I think we would finish faster. I think I supported his interest at the expense of "dancing", that is, due to what the director of the film does with the actors, trying to maintain interest and make them want to take this episode. This is the skill that I acquired over the years, working with actors. I did this with the heads of state - with Castro, Netanyahu, Arafat ...
In total, we got 19 hours of footage. We reduced it to four hours - it's a good proportion in 20% .... We spent together 22 hours ... No Russian money in financing "Interview with Putin" was not ...
- What is the significance of your documentary that comes out on the screen during the deterioration of US-Russian relations amid all these accusations of hacker attacks during the elections?
- So it was not planned. This is another crisis in a long chain of crises. The United States has always dominated the media and is presenting its side of events around the world with headlines. It should be borne in mind that the Russian point of view is never included, and it never properly appears to the American people. And when this happens, it seems that she is presented sarcastically, mockingly - this is not a very good way to deal with the case. And so we definitely tried to step back in time and move on to the present day. And this coincides with Putin's presidency, which began in 2000.
He saw that Russia is in a state of chaos - remember, the Americans sent economic teams to Russia, they gave advice to Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a good friend for Mr. Clinton - he was largely "our guy". In 1996, when Yeltsin's ratings were on a catastrophic level, he was re-elected president. This is still a big issue in Russia - the elections are perceived as fraudulent, and in support of this view there are many evidences. In addition, he unexpectedly received a loan from the IMF, quite large; it happened at the last second and allowed to support the economy.
Our experiment in Russia did not work - privatization, the transfer of all state-owned enterprises. All this has led to large-scale corruption, to which we are complaining today. Much of this corruption comes from that period. Because those people who had the mind, got everything for free. And those people who acted according to the rules, as it should, people who had pension plans, plans in the field of insurance, were really in flight (Laughs).
Let's just say - Russia's GDP collapsed by about 40%. For them, this collapse was worse than World War II, which caused great damage to Russia. As Kennedy said, "a third of the United States, from Chicago to New York, was destroyed." The economy of Russia has fallen to the level of the Dutch economy.
After Putin came to power, everything actually changed. The income level has grown. Still there is the problem of poverty and income differences - all this is rooted in the 1990-ies. The situation with privatization has been changed - modified. Putin believes in a capitalist, market economy - more in its European, than in the American version. He launched the reform process. He made himself a lot of enemies - as you understand, from the number of people who benefited from the situation in the 1990-ies. Not all, but many of them emigrated, took money with them and left.
- Well, yes, they were called oligarchs. But many of them stayed and worked with the government.
- Should Russia be a partner of America in the field of national security, instead of treating it as the enemy of the state number one?
- Absolutely. America and Russia have many common interests, including the fight against terrorism. In space, they will be key allies. We should not militarize outer space, and this is one of their claims. Of course, climate control ... There is a hope that cooperation can be established in all these areas - as well as in the field of security in the world ...
- You are a principal critic of the mainstream media. What do you think about how they represent Putin?
- This is a shame for the West. At first some positive things were published, when he brought order to the existing chaos. But when he became, so to speak, the son of Russia and began to act in Russia's own interests, as the states are supposed to do, he, in my opinion, has surprised the American leaders, the elite by their firmness and consistency. The media war against him began in February of the year 2007 (when Putin in his speech at the Munich Security Conference criticized US unilateralism for "almost uncontrolled large-scale use of force in international relations").
- In your feature films and documentaries, from "John F. Kennedy. Shots in Dallas "before" The Untold Story ", I am most struck by the fact that in the cinematic sense you represent a narrative opposite to the prevailing views, you offer a version of events and people that contradicts the official one. How does your view of Putin differ from what the common point of view presented in the mainstream media offers us?
- In our documentary, he goes into detail, which is important for understanding the history and the sources; He talks about the three shocks he encountered as a result of the US-initiated expansion of NATO, which began in 1999 - 13 states were added. NATO is perceived differently by Russians than by Westerners ...
NATO, he said, is an almost national state that puts under control the military mechanisms of those countries that are members of the alliance. They become NATO states. Planning within NATO to use their territory for operations, military games and, perhaps, even, ultimately, themselves as a military hostage on the front line. NATO is a serious obligation ... NATO is represented as an anti-Russian alliance ... This is very important for the United States, but I do not think it is in the interest of Europe to be a hostage on the front line in a tense situation.
However, NATO's approach to Russia's borders is already on the brink - it's as if (Russia) deployed its forces in Mexico and Canada, right on our borders, and said that we do not trust you and can attack you at any moment . This is a colossal tension. This is called a "strategy of tension," and it is of fundamental importance to Western interests ... However, the Russians do not exert any pressure on us, they do not move troops - the United States is moving its troops. What is the number of forward-based bases - 800? Plus the troops of special operations in 130 countries - we feel threatened, we feel that we are surrounded ...
Here is what Mr. Putin says: "Who brings chaos to the world?" If you look at the map and ask: "Where are the troops, where are the bases, where does the weapon go?"
- Putin actually says in this film that in the last period of the USSR's existence, its leaders were promised that NATO will not expand and accept Eastern Europe as its members.
"But it was not fixed on paper, as he says, and accuses Gorbachev ..."
Number two (second shock), he experienced at the time when George Bush withdrew from the ABM Treaty with Russia (in 2001 year) - it was a real shock. A very dangerous step for the world - people did not pay attention to it, but the whole concept of nuclear parity, which was being created for so many years, was violated. After that, America deployed missile defense elements in Poland and Romania, right on the border with Russia.
I can not say to what extent this has upset the balance. The Russians were shocked by this - it is impossible to cancel such important contracts. The ABM Treaty was the cornerstone of nuclear parity and was signed in 1972 by Nixon and Brezhnev. It was a very important treaty, but the American people do not realize this, because the media did not explain this to the world. This means that Russia is now forced to spend money and a huge amount of effort to restructure some of its nuclear systems. Because now it is difficult to trace - anti-missile can very quickly be turned into an offensive weapon.
If, for example, do not inform the Russians about this, they will not be able to understand what they have on the radar, with which they are confronted. If suddenly the anti-missile begins to behave like an offensive weapon, then this becomes a real problem. You must instantly rebuild your defensive system and try to eliminate this threat. America has deployed along the entire Russian border submarines, intercontinental missiles, NATO aircraft - on both sides. We are developing all sorts of new types of weapons, including new nuclear "super-fuses" (super-fuses) - they are very dangerous.
In other words, the United States does not intend to impose any restrictions in the field of nuclear weapons - they demonstrate the intention to achieve superiority and have the potential for a first strike against Russia. This is a serious, very serious matter. More serious than you think. This brings us to the very edge. There is also a large number of opportunities for making mistakes, as shown in the film "Doctor Strangelove" (Stone shows Putin a fragment of this nuclear satire Kubrick 1964 in his documentary), in which the failure occurs; someone reacts too sharply - this has happened so many times since the 1970-ies, and we were close to it, if you understand the details. During the reign of the Reagan administration there were several incidents of this kind. Therefore, everyone is currently concerned. The Poles are involved - they hate the Russians, the countries of Eastern Europe, in their minds, the thought of revenge. This is a very dangerous situation, and an accident may occur.
Number three (the third shock), he details the support of the United States for terrorism in Central Asia, as well as in Russia. Putin talks about this, this is a very important issue. They helped us after the terrorist attacks of 11 September (2001), they agreed with Bush to help us in Afghanistan - the right of transit, armament, intelligence; they, in fact, helped us. In fact, they saved a lot of our lives in Afghanistan. At that time, they began to intercept signals from Chechen terrorists, in Georgia ... attempts were made to separate them from Mother Russia, whose population in 1991 already decreased by 25 million people. Georgia became independent at that time. That is, there were a variety of problems at the border. Ukraine became a problem in 2004 year ... and now in Ukraine, terrorism is engaged in extreme right-wing thugs.
Bush and Putin held a meeting - he talks about its results. Bush agreed that we should not support those people who seek to destroy Russia - at the same time, he can not do anything, because the CIA continues to do this. And the question arises - who manages the country, who makes decisions. Does Bush make decisions? Is Trump making decisions? Or, in fact, there is a secret state, the CIA, intelligence services that do what they want? This also became one of the questions.
When the Soviet state collapsed in 1991 ... relations continued as usual, the only superpower ... Mr. Bush sent 500 thousand soldiers to the Middle East. This is an extremely important decision - remember that in Vietnam it happened gradually ... And suddenly 500 thousand soldiers signal about a new presence in the world. This is Mrs. Superpower hanging her sign and says: "Ok, we will decide everything ..."
However, these three things hit Putin in the early years, and this was a major change in the relationship. He talks about "our American partners" throughout the documentary, and he does not say anything bad about anyone, not about any president. He respects Obama, he respects Bush - he, in a certain sense, obviously likes Bush. In my opinion, if we take the system of American values, then Putin should be considered a conservative American with absolutely traditional values. It fits into this category. And if he was an American president, he would be very fond of our media because he is a good, consistent leader.
- Do you think that the mainstream media demonize Putin?
- Well, none of the issues I mentioned during the period from 2000 on 2007 was notified (Nation's editorial note: In fact, they were not very well covered in the mainstream media). I have not read anything about this. I thought we had a good relationship - but I was wrong. And I did not follow the Ukrainian "Orange Revolution" 2004 year - it seemed that Russia has nothing against Ukraine moving towards the West. It was not a question. They had trade agreements that were profitable, powerful and good for both sides. They had agreements in the military field on the supply of arms. But all of them were torn up as a result of the coup d'état of 2014. There were problems in the course of the war in Georgia, about which little was said. The second Chechen war - finally, Chechnya was reassured (the war ceased in 2009).
Relations were complicated because of Ukraine and Syria, which was the first on the list. Because in 2011, the United States actively began to intervene in Syria, and it was an ally of Russia from the 1970-ies, they had a military base there. Syria was one of Russia's most important allies in the Middle East. The United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, England, France - all of them took part in this mediated war in Syria, and their goal was to destabilize the country, get rid of Assad and bring to power representatives of some moderate opposition , although there were no signs of its existence at that time.
The situation in the country was deteriorating. Obama bombed Syria for four years, and no results of the struggle against the "Islamic state" (A prohibited organization in Russia - approx. Ed.) Was not achieved. Putin intervened in 2015 year - and it was at this point that the shit hit the fan. Because, in fact, active bombing began, thousands of sorties, hundreds of sorties a day, while the United States undertook one or two sorties. He, indeed, caused damage to the "Islamic state", and this significantly changed the situation. If you notice, the development of the whole Syrian crisis changed color after the Russians came there and started doing what they intended to do, that is, to fight terrorism.
Putin insists that this is the main goal. He emphasizes that Damascus is at a distance of only 2500 kilometers from Moscow - it is not so far away. We must understand the fear that the Russians are experiencing about the resurgence of terrorism, as they experienced all this in Beslan (school seizure, 1-3 September 2004), in Moscow (in the Moscow center on Dubrovka, four kilometers from the Kremlin, 23 - 26 October), in the theater hall "Dubrovka" in 2002 year - many Russians were killed as a result of these terrorist attacks.
Putin was very serious about Syria - I do not think that the Americans took this seriously as we had other goals. We did not fight terrorism. We fought for our geopolitical advantage in Syria, and this is largely due to oil and geography - control of the Eurasian subcontinent, Turkey.
However, Syria and Ukraine together destroyed all the remaining relations. To this was added a huge amount of insults from the Western media and governments. When we have people like John McCain, who says that "Putin is a thug, a murderer, a dictator"
- and "a greater threat than the" Islamic state ".
"And" a greater threat than the "Islamic state".
- What do you think of it?
- I do not think that Russia is a threat. I believe that this, as Noam Chomsky could say, is a fabricated crisis. It helps support American hostility, support the military-industrial state, support budgets - this allows you to spend on defense at 10 times more than the Russians do. And, of course, Obama made the biggest mistake in 2009 when he said that we are going to completely rebuild our nuclear infrastructure and spend a trillion dollars on it. This is a very dangerous thought, if we think about the possibility of an arms race, about how Russia will respond, how will China respond? Think about it - send billions of dollars to prepare for war. Where it leads?
It could be a great moment - as it was with the end of Gorbachev's period, and Bush could say: "Let's live in peace." Reagan at one point wanted to completely disarm - remember, Gorbachev said: "Let's get rid of all weapons," and Reagan liked this idea.
- It was at a meeting in Reykjavik in 1986 year?
- It was a wonderful thought, it was a great moment in history ... If the world explodes, then people should know that there was such a moment ...
(Obama) in 2009 (planned to spend 1 trillion dollars on upgrading nuclear infrastructure), and this is very dangerous. This decision, as well as the threat emanating from anti-missiles, put the world to the brink ... Based on all my work on this documentary and on my plot instinct, I can say that the Russians are tough guys and they will not give in. Their victory in the Second World War was amazing - the Nazis caused them great damage, the best military machine of all time. They suffered huge losses, but they were able to recover and resist - in fact, they turned the whole course of the war in Stalingrad ... And they fought, they continued to do it in Eastern Europe, it was incredible. Their military and civilian casualties were colossal - by some estimates, 27 million ...
Russia won the Second World War - but the Russians did not get any reward for it. Right after that, Churchill and Truman started a cold war. Soviet films about the Second World War were very good ... They remember. If you are shooting a film about the Second World War today, if it is not something like Tarantino, this will not affect anyone in our country especially. And in Russia it can happen, if it comes to their hearts, it's their DNA. All in Russia, all have relatives who were affected by the war, who were wounded or killed. A lot of people died. The whole country fought for survival.
You must understand this - they are ready for war, and they are afraid of it. I felt during my trips ... I felt that they were very surprised that America took such a tough stance towards Russia. They like Putin, because he defends the interests of Russia. He is not too aggressive, he does not intrude anywhere, except for what they say ...
- Do you consider all that is happening today - all these accusations about Russia's interference in the American elections - in the context of the Cold War?
- Absolutely. The memory of the Cold War did not disappear. All representatives of older generations, neo-cons, all of them remember this, and also that Russia is the main enemy. It's in their blood, it's their DNA - to hate the Russians ... I do not consider it necessary, in my opinion, there is a huge amount of mistrust, especially from the Republican Party's elite. They made it an election issue, when Truman panicked (in 1948 year), they accepted the Loyalty Act and created the CIA. Therefore, many of these evils we inherited from that time.
It is interesting that if Roosevelt lived a few months longer, then clearly, we would inherit another world. It is unfortunate that he died in April (1945 year) - if he lived to July or August ... Roosevelt believed in a great alliance with the participation of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain and China ... Churchill said: "No matter how you criticize Stalin , He did what he promised us. "
- Are we sowing seeds of the new McCarthyism with the help of all these accusations of hacker attacks?
- It's very strange - but it happens. These old figures who do not trust Russia and hate everything connected with it. I do not understand this, because the Russian people are very much like the American people ...
- All 17 intelligence agencies of the US came to the same conclusion regarding the hacker attack from the Russians, and all those taking the left position are forced to say: "They need to know what they say." But do not you believe that all these 17 intelligence agencies are telling the truth?
- I do not believe, because they have moved away from their original position ... They were three departments - the CIA, the NSA and the FBI. They concocted these intelligence data. These are my words, (and not of Putin) ... These are very serious accusations - that Trump was a Manchu candidate. I consider the talk about the influence of Russians on the election as absurd, and this can be seen with the naked eye.
Israel has a much greater impact on US elections through the US-Israeli Public Relations Committee. Saudi Arabia is influenced by money ... Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers have more influence in the American elections ... And the Israeli prime minister comes to our country and, speaking in Congress, criticizes the president's policy towards Iran - It's pretty outrageous.
Our country is heavily under the dictator's rule - this dictator is money, a military-industrial complex ... Beyond the absurdity is to have such expenses for military needs every year ...
- Although your documentary films are not as well known as your art paintings, you have shot quite a few documentary films. Can you put the "Interview with Putin" in the context of your previous documentary films about Fidel, Arafat, "South of the border", etc.?
- It was a special interview, like this. The idea of Putin emerged spontaneously, it grew out of the story with Snowden. I meet with Putin, and as a result, we make a film. At that time, we did not define any boundaries. We had to do so that he was interested. In my opinion, most interviews make him bored. Of course, if you remember people like Megyn Kelly, who jump on you, and you have to defend yourself, this option does not quite fit me ...
In the end, he told me: "Thank you for being so thorough and asking good questions." I challenged him, but did it gently - nothing happens if you use the sharp approach in the style of Megin Kelly ... She was not well informed, she mentioned 17 intelligence agencies, and she did not know anything about those digital tracks that Putin spoke about .
- Did Putin refer to you when, in an interview with Megin Kelly, did he mention the theory in the United States that President Kennedy was killed by US intelligence services?
- I dont know. He never spoke to me about this ... It was completely unexpected. But he took it as a possible option, did not he? Of course, I believe in this, and you probably too ... Only the state apparatus could do this, not amateurs.
- From the point of view of the history of documentary films, you can compare the "Interview with Putin" with the tapes in which the already settled narratives are reviewed and reassessed, as in Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9 / 11" (2004), as in the film "The Thin Blue line "of Errol Morris (1988), or in his same movie" The Fog of War "(2003), as in the Madness of Titicate by Frederick Wiseman (1967), in" Hasty condemnation "by Emile de Antonio and Mark Lane (1967)? In these films, alternative points of view were presented, and they helped change public opinion. Can you put the film "Interview with Putin" in this context?
"Not yet." Let's hope that it will contribute to peace, harmony and mutual understanding. Yes, I absolutely consciously advocate for another world, for an alternative. I do not understand why we are waging war ...
What do you call it: Stone / Putin? Some say: Frost / Nixon. All this was in the past - and now it's real. It's a chance for a crazy filmmaker to go out and ask: "What are you actually saying? Can we hear this? "