‘A lot of it was BS’: US ‘lost focus’ in War on Terror, becoming consumed by emotions and heroic posturing, says Oliver Stone

On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, in a conversation with RT, award-winning director Oliver Stone condemned the US response as rooted in “exaggerated hype to go to war” and a misguided attempt at revenge-seeking.

Stone condemned the bloody-minded drive for vengeance that characterized the US’ reaction to the attacks from the outset. “‘We’ve gotta get them for this’ – [but] we didn’t even know who ‘them’ were!” he exclaimed to Going Underground’s Afshin Rattansi on Wednesday, pointing out that it was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, rather than the better-known terrorist bogeyman Osama Bin Laden, who put together the entire plan “in his brain.”

We lost focus in that moment – we were terrified, horrified, but we didn’t really look at what happened. We should have looked at why. A lot of [the government’s reasoning] was BS. A lot of it was exaggerated hype to go to war by the US and Israel,” Stone explained.

Regarding US President Joe Biden’s controversial pullout from Afghanistan, Stone’s was a rare voice of support, insisting he “didn’t think it was a bad withdrawal at all” and that the sense of crisis was inflated by the media. “I appreciate a man who isn’t rushing to judgment like Bush was or Trump would be. A man who thinks about things and is deliberate … Most American presidents would fold – change their minds because of the polls,” which are “always tough on presidents.”

Stone observed that the reasons the terrorists gave for the 9/11 attacks were relatively simple: former president George H.W. Bush’s decision to station US troops on Saudi holy land and the US’ increasingly ‘one-sided’ support for Israel, despite international law. “We should have looked at why [the attacks occurred]. Bush said they envy our freedoms, but that was nonsense. They did it because of two reasons, as Osama stated very clearly,” Stone continued. “Instead of disengaging when the war was over in November, we sent in a huge amount of troops, didn’t understand the landscape, went out again and again on patrols, and, as we did in Vietnam, [the US Army] antagonized people by just being there.

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Rather than raining fiery death on the inhabitants of Afghanistan and Iraq, real heroism would have focused on helping the victims of the attack, Stone said, explaining why he made the film ‘World Trade Center’.“I think heroism is simple: it’s not elaborated on, it’s not called attention to, it’s done,” he said, denouncing the “emotionalism and imperialism” he felt marked the American response to the attacks instead.

Stone also mentioned he had been hard at work on a pair of documentaries: one a follow-up of sorts on ‘JFK’ and the other concerning climate change. He hopes the latter, called ‘Star Power’, will “change people’s perception about what’s going on [with the climate] and may help the world enormously to adapt.

That’s why I did it. There’s no nobler purpose in life in my opinion than to serve mankind.”

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