I've yet to sit down and watch the Showtime series Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States, but this op-ed by the director of some great and some awful movies and his co-author Peter Kuznick sure makes me want to check it out.
Snippets from USA Today:
While following through on some key promises, such as withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq, Obama has often simultaneously deepened his commitment to the empire. In some cases, he pursued his promises, proposing to close Guantanamo and launching a plan to give terrorist "detainees" civilian trials, and then quickly backed away as his political foes attacked….
Pushed by his handpicked advisers, including Hillary Clinton and Republican holdover Robert Gates, and generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, he tripled the number of U.S. troops [in Afghanistan]. By 2011, the United States was spending $110 billion on military operations. Even as the president announced a slight acceleration of the planned 2014 pullout, it is unclear what long-term impact Obama's Afghan "surge" will have.
Elsewhere, Obama quickly became the world's leading drone warrior, employing more predator drones in his first nine-and-a-half months in office than Bush had in the previous three years. The results are mixed. He managed to decapitate much of al-Qaeda's leadership, but these attacks fueled jihadist recruitment….
Obama claimed the right to murder, without judicial review, anyone he deemed a threat to U.S. interests, making him judge, jury and executioner, and far exceeding Bush's surveillance without judicial review (which also seems to have expanded under Obama). He personally selected the individuals to be targeted who were put on "kill lists." Before 9/11, the U.S. had condemned targeted assassinations. Now, they are Obama's signature foreign policy initiative, one that many other nations have prepared to emulate.
And there's this: "Often, Obama's efforts to expand America's imperial role are obscured by Republican demands that he go further." They got that right.
There's no question that Oliver Stone has a strange, if not thoroughly cracked view of reality (go here to read former Reason staffer Michael Moynihan's criticism of Untold History).
His willingness to pal around uncritically with dictators such as Castro and Chavez is revolting, as was his apparently sympathetc but clearly simple-minded description of the 9/11 attacks as a "revolt" and a "rebellion." Yet whether it's his willingness to push pot legalization or the current USA Today op-ed, the guy is willing to make his views known even (especially?) if they make many of his fans uncomfortable. I'll take that anyday over mealy-mouthed auteurs who can never quite put their genius out into a scrum where it might be dinged up.