Oliver Stone’s Party Line
Relitigating the Cold War and defending the honor of poor old Joe Stalin

Director Oliver Stone in 2009


Clifford D. May

Will more people be educated by Applebaum or misinformed by Stone? The answer is obvious. Does it matter? In an age of moral equivalence, how much damage can be done by yet another generous serving? So what if more Americans — especially those who call themselves “progressives” — come to believe that old Uncle Joe Stalin got a raw deal, and Harry Truman was a “war criminal”?

I think it does matter. Not only because post-Soviet Russia remains conspicuously unfree, but, more important, because those persuaded that the 20th-century fight against totalitarianism was not worth the candle are likely to conclude that defending America and the West is not necessary now — a time when totalitarianism is again on the march, this time seeking not to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat or rule by a master race, but domination by religious supremacists.


It is no exaggeration to describe those who embrace the ideology of jihadism as neo-Stalinists. They, too, insist on infusing their ideology — which, in this case, is their theology as well — into every aspect of life. They, too, attack not just those who oppose them but also those who merely refuse to fully submit to their authority. Their victims include Jews, Christians, Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, and, not least, Muslims — most recently those whose ancient mosques and shrines have been destroyed in Libya and Mali.

Stone and his ilk — not to mention Showtime and CBS — are doing damage. Out of ignorance or maliciousness? The two are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they are a potent combination.

— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.