MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., November 13, 2012 — Oliver Stone’s new project airing Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on Show Time, “The Untold History of the United States,” delivers a riveting view of history that may not satisfy many. Using what appears to be very well researched statistics, historic film and legacy films, Stone keeps the attention of the audience.
I have to confess that I have some very causal relationship with this series. Oliver Stone served in the same Division that I did in Vietnam in the sister battalion to mine. We both served in the 25th Infantry Division, 22nd Infantry Regiment: he in the 1st Battalion and I in the 2nd. Some have speculated that his film “Platoon” includes parts of a battle I participated in (Soui Tre).
Even stranger is the fact that as a young man of 18 – 20 years old, I actually met Elliott Roosevelt, the son of FDR, who figures prominently in the first episode of the series. Elliott Roosevelt was in Colombia engaged in purchasing some real estate that my father was trying to sell and my role in this meeting was that of a translator. Unfortunately nothing came of it.
Even for those that are very familiar with the history of WW II, the pace of the episode is unnerving. Stone manages to narrate the period in history from the 1930s to 1943, arguably one of the most complex periods of human existence, all in one hour. He interlaces facts about the economy of the countries involved as well as political facts.
In 60 minutes, the film covers the state of affairs in Europe and the U.S. soon after the Great Depression, the wars of aggression by the Japanese and the Italians, the Spanish Civil War, the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland by the Germans, Stalin’s pact of no aggression with Hitler, the pact between Japan and Germany, and the invasion of Poland by the Germans and the Russians. It then goes into the predicament of the Japanese with the oil embargo that threatened to derail its wars of conquest in Asia.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked our military installations in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. According to Stone, the main reason was the fear of U.S. intervention by Japan in its perceived need to invade the Dutch possessions in the South Pacific. These islands were rich in oil. Honoring their pact with Japan, Germany promptly declared war on the United States.
In the meantime Germany started Operation Barbarossa and invaded Russia to implement its perceived future “living space” mandate. The German troops soon found themselves bogged down by the winter season and a tenacious resistance by the Russians.
Stone makes it clear that because of the Germans racial paradigm, they were never truly comfortable with the Japanese as allies. Because of this, both Germany and Japan lost chances for more effective coordination and possibly winning the war. For example if the Japanese had invaded Russia instead of concentrating on the Pacific and Indochina, Russia could have collapsed with a two front war.
After extensively describing the Battle of Stalingrad, Stone probably makes the most important statement of the first episode and probably the entire series. After comparing the casualties inflicted by the allies on the Germans in the Eastern and Western front, he states that in fact the United States didn’t win WW II. The Russians did.
His numbers appear to bear at least a second look. While the Russians killed about six million Germans in the Eastern Front, the rest of the allies only killed about one million in all the other war theatres combined. At this point I realized that his heavy concentration on the battle of Stalingrad had the objective of preparing us for his conclusion.
The next episode will be aired at 8:00 p.m. on Monday November 19. It promises to be very exciting as it will cover the entire Wallace and Truman vice presidencies and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan’s population centers. I can hardly wait for the next installment of history.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist <http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/21st-century-pacifist/> at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.
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