Oliver Stone Visits Jeju Island
November 7, 2013
Amy Goodman / Democracy Now!
We continue our extended interview with three-time Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Oliver Stone. He discusses recent NSA protests, his recent visit to Jeju Island in South Korea to join protests against a planned naval base to house a US missile defense system close to China.
We continue our extended interview with three-time Academy Award-winning director, producer and screenwriter Oliver Stone. He discusses recent NSA protests, his recent visit to Jeju Island in South Korea to join protests against a planned naval base to house a US missile defense system close to China, and more about the assassination of JFK and his series, The Untold History of the United States.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman.
Our guest is Oliver Stone, three-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker, famous for many films. Among them -- well, he was a Vietnam War veteran -- he did Platoon; Born on the Fourth of July; Wall Street; Salvador; Nixon; W. (about George W. Bush); South of the Border, a documentary about Latin American leaders; Wall Street and Wall Street 2. Well, now, a commemorative edition of his film, JFK, has just come out on Blu-ray as the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination approaches, November 22nd. Most recently, Oliver Stone co-wrote a 10-part Showtime series called Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States, which played on Showtime. Now it's available on Blue-ray with two extra chapters.
Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Oliver.
OLIVER STONE: Thank you, Amy.
AMY GOODMAN: You recently went to Jeju Island. Now, most people who are listening have no idea where that is, but it's in South Korea. You went there in August, World Heritage site, where the government wants to build a naval base to house a US missile defense system close to China.
Earlier this year, I spoke with one of those leading the fight against this base. Kang Dong-kyun is the mayor of Gangjeong, a village on Jeju Island in South Korea. Mayor Kang has been arrested many times. He spoke to us through a translator.
MAYOR KANG DONG-KYUN: [translated] The base that's being build on Jeju Island will not only be used by the South Korean government, but the United States also will be using this base. According to the Status of Forces Agreement between the US and South Korea, the US military base will also use this base. So if this base is completed, I worry that it will lead to another Cold War.
So when President Obama meets with Chinese leaders, I hope they will discuss treating each other not through a contest of force, but through peaceful, diplomatic engagement. The major powers have to reduce their military budgets, and in order to do that, they should start by getting rid of military bases on geostrategic islands like Jeju and Okinawa.
I hope the US and Chinese governments can make a peace agreement to bring about global peace, resolve problems not through war, but through dialogue and mutual understanding, so that Jeju Islanders and people of the whole planet can live as dignified human beings in harmony with nature.
AMY GOODMAN: That is the mayor of a village on Jeju Island called Gangjeong. Mayor Kang has been arrested many times as he protests the US base that will be built there. Now, why, Oliver Stone, did you go to Jeju Island?
OLIVER STONE: I was on a trip to Nagasaki, Hiroshima and Okinawa, in conjunction with Untold History and commemorating the site of the atomic bombs. So I went to South Korea in addition, because it's part of the same problem. The United States' ax -- pivot to Asia involves going -- once again going back into our Asian positions, which we never gave up after World War II.
We held onto Japan, and eventually South Korea, and we armed these countries to the teeth. Now we've armed the Philippines. We've armed -- we've made an alliance with Vietnam. Taiwan, we armed with the most sophisticated stealth fighters we have, subs, everything. And Australia -- we have troops in Australia.
We're ringing the Chinese border, as we have rung around -- have now put NATO bases around Russia. It's part of our global expansion -- to control the world.
So, our mouths are drooling, because one of the best deep-water ports in the world is in Jeju, which is a lovely island, by the way. It's called "the island of peace" -- the nickname for it on a World Heritage site. Some of the best waters in the world, beautiful fishing and so forth. It's a beauty spot.
And, of course, in the heart of this, next to this poor village, where this mayor is very civil, is [where] they're putting up the ugliest base you've ever seen. Every day for five years now, they've been building it. Protests have been steady. The nuns, the priests, many of them Catholic, are out there, day by day. The South Koreans are in charge of the base. The Americans have a behind-the-scenes policy. But essentially it's a deepwater port where we will be able to dock the George Washington aircraft carrier carrying all kinds of nuclear missiles, anti-ballistic missiles. It's a state-of-the-art aircraft.
AMY GOODMAN: You went to --
OLIVER STONE: And I -- one more thing I just want to point out. It's very important to realize that this is less than 400 kilometers from Shanghai. This is very close. This is really front-line warfare here. I just want to make you aware of how much electronic eavesdropping we can do from this place. We, of course, have huge bases in Japan and Okinawa, but this is a big new advance.
AMY GOODMAN: You went to a prison there and visited Yang Yoon-mo in the prison --
OLIVER STONE: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: -- who has been in prison -- is the longest-held prisoner protesting this right now.
OLIVER STONE: Is that right?
AMY GOODMAN: Why did you go there?
OLIVER STONE: I was on the island, and I was introduced to him. He's a film critic. (He was a film critic; he's not practicing right now.) He was one of the leading lights and he felt very strongly -- Korean people are very emotional about this. This is a -- you know, they believe in ancestors and the burial grounds. There's a lot of ghosts, a feeling of that. And it's in their movies. It's in their culture. This is an island that's sacred to them. And to use it for this kind of a military is irreligious. It's -- people feel very strongly, and they fight for it. And this guy has been in jail, off and on, many times, and I believe he's had hunger fasts of 60 days, 50 days. I was worried for him. He looks good, but -- and he's in that vein of people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
AMY GOODMAN: Oliver Stone, what do you think is the -- was the most dangerous time in US history, in the period that you have -- you have covered in Untold History of the United States?
OLIVER STONE: I think -- to be honest, I think 1960, when Eisenhower had reached that brink, full brink of that -- we had that kind of power over the rest of the world. We were 10-to-one over the Soviet Union, 1960 to '63, when Kennedy inherited that position. It was because of the Cuba and the Berlin situation. And then, after that, I think the Vietnam War, but that was regional.
But then, I think, with Reagan in office and Andropov -- Andropov was shocked. In 1983, 1984, very close again. Remember when the Korean jetliner went down? There were several miscalculations in that period. And Americans don't know much about it, but there was -- we had -- we were -- Reagan was talking a very aggressive game.
He was talking about first strike. He was talking about anti-ballistic missiles. The Soviets were freaked out. They really believe us, the contrary to our own people. They really believed it. And … there was a couple of near accidents when they thought we had launched already. Andropov stopped at the last second. So, there -- and then again, in Yeltsin's period, there were a few mishaps, as you know, but not as dangerous as when Reagan was talking that type of game.
And now. Now is very dangerous, because we are back on top, full-spectrum dominance. We have the most deadly capabilities from space, which we are increasing day by day. By 2015, 2020, we should have drones up there. And we don't sign onto the space treaty that the Soviets and the Chinese want. So, space, cyberwarfare, we're the leader.
Whatever we say about the Chinese, we are the leader. And, of course, cyberwarfare, space warfare, land, air, sea -- and now eavesdropping -- full-spectrum dominance. This is -- when you have first strike ability, you tend to use it. You have to be very careful. That's what the danger was in 1960. The generals wanted to use it: get rid of the enemy now.
AMY GOODMAN: Hmm. I want to go to Reagan. You were just talking about President Reagan. In your book, Untold History of the United States, you have a chapter called "Death Squads for Democracy."
This is President Reagan in 1983 giving an address on Central America.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: [But nearness on the map doesn't even begin to tell] the strategic importance of Central America, bordering as it does on the Caribbean, our lifeline to the outside world. Two-thirds of all our foreign trade and petroleum pass through the Panama Canal and the Caribbean. In a European crisis, at least half of our supplies for NATO would go through these areas by sea.
OLIVER STONE: Yeah. It's interesting you went to a 1983 clip, and that -- I was saying that it was the most -- one of the most dangerous era. There was a sense that we could almost go to war, because he called them the "evil empire," and he kept taunting them....
At one point, Reagan saw that movie that was on TV, The Day After, which apparently moved him, because he saw that a nuclear war would be pointless and nobody would really be happy with this outcome, and he changed his policy.
Also, there was the nuclear freeze movement. Do you remember? There were huge protests. People in America got fed up with this talk and actually went --
AMY GOODMAN: He actually met Helen Caldicott. Patti Davis, his daughter, took him -- took Helen Caldicott, the leading anti-nuclear physician, to meet with President Reagan.
OLIVER STONE: And they -- there was a movement, and it was -- Reagan was affected by it. So it showed you that popular demonstrations could have an effect -- like they had on Nixon, too, on the Vietnam War.
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