From Hugo Chavez to Vladimir Putin, it appears that Oliver Stone has yet to meet an authoritarian hiding behind left cover that he isn’t in love with. In 2014, Stone produced “Mi Amigo Hugo” to glorify the Venezuelan dictator and received mostly jeers, many seeing Stone as a useful idiot in the machinations of Chavez and Maduro. Foreign Policy described the documentary as a “disgraceful tribute,” going on to say that “the absolute last thing Venezuelans, or anyone else, needs is more Chávez agitprop.” Now Stone is touring with his latest documentary called “The Putin Interview” just in time for the film festival circuit this summer.
The documentary glorifies Russian President Vladimir Putin, a character who came to power by dubious means, has clamped down on civil rights, invaded Ukraine using proxy forces, and whose regime has murdered journalists just to name a few indiscretions. Why the left leaning Oliver Stone would act as Putin’s PR man is difficult to understand. While the American left is obsessed with Russia as an enemy and interloper in the age of Donald Trump, the American far left is so in love with communism and Soviet nostalgia that they just can’t quit Putin. It is an odd dynamic to say the least. Long story short, the far left views Russia and China as a viable alternative to what they perceive as American “imperialism.”
The left collided with the far left recently when Stephen Colbert interviewed Oliver Stone on the Late Show. What unfolded was absolutely surreal with Stone acting as a Putin apologist. In a clip from the documentary, Stone compliments Putin almost in awe of his power. The former KGB Colonel smiles and nods, unlikely to be phased by such tactics. When asked about interference in US election, Putin denies all while keeping a smirk on his face. It is a typical two-tiered message being sent by Putin to multiple audiences by such a performance. When Colbert questions Stone about the kid gloves he uses in his interviews with the Russian President, the director stumbles over himself making excuses. Like most Putin supporters, Stone cannot bring himself to say anything negative about the Russian President. It is almost as if they are not allowed. Readers can take a look for themselves.
The propaganda quota apparently gets even better later in the documentary. In one scene, Putin shows Stone a clip on his cell phone depicting a view through the Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) camera on an attack helicopter, ostensibly showing a Russian helicopter gunship engaging ISIS on the ground in Syria. “This is how our Air Forces are operating,” Putin says. “The militants are running with arms, not just machine guns.” Putin narrates the footage they watch, talking about how the brave Russian pilots taking some serious risks in the course of fighting ISIS. As for context, Putin says that this interdiction happened on the border between Syria and Turkey where international terrorists were trying to cross over. The documentary can be viewed on Showtime, but the scene we are referring to is also in the trailer which can be viewed online.
However, there is one mammoth sized problem with Putin showing this footage to Oliver Stone. It’s all bullshit. The footage is from an American AH-64 Apache attack helicopter in Afghanistan mowing down Taliban with its 30mm gun back in 2013. SOFREP recently reported on how Russian propaganda took pictures of fallen Canadian soldiers and then lied about them saying that those men had been killed in Ukraine. This was factually incorrect. Now you get to see Putin personally using the same tactic, repurposing found footage for his own agenda. This is disinformation 101 and more people need to be aware of it. The Apache attack footage can be viewed below for comparison.
In the end, Vladimir Putin conducted himself in a duplicitous manner, but this we should expect from him. He is a former KGB officer and the Russian President, therefore putting perceived Russian national interests first. This is unsurprising. Perhaps the real story is how Oliver Stone is repeatedly used a useful idiot. Countries like Russia and China are able to co-opt the far left who have been in vapor lock since the 1970’s, trapped inside an ideological framework created by Marx and stoked along by Zinn and Chomsky. For them, Putin represents a check on American “neo-colonial” foreign policies. Unfortunately, they have never really asked themselves how powers like Russia and China view their own liberal belief system. Russia and China care the least about the values that the American left values the most from free speech, to LGBT rights, to environmentalism.
For a more in-depth discussion of Russian reflexive control theory and how American minds are so easily manipulated, have a look at the following articles:
Special thanks for CIT for first discovering this discrepancy.