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Oliver Stone: ouroboros re-imagined

Oliver Stone is like a weird version of ouroboros: not so much a serpent swallowing its own tail but rather a serpent with its head jammed up its own arse, a conspiracy theory propagandist for some of the vilest tyrants and thugs on this planet.

And I have never made any secret of the fact I regard Edward Snowden as a hero.

Therefore I am aghast to see that Oliver Stone, of all people, has made a movie about Snowden. Suffice to say I do not hold out much hope.

36 comments to Oliver Stone: ouroboros re-imagined

  • tomo

    Oh Dear…

    I’d be really interested to know who’s actually funded this.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh, not to worry. I imagine Oliver will love Snowden, who will be the David to the entire government’s and the vast-right-wing’s Goliath.

  • Cristina

    A natural synergy at work

  • Regional

    Are you being facetious or sarcastic?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, honestly sarcastic. So to speak. I’m reasonably sure he’ll hit the VRWC, and for sure the CIA, NSA, and probably other intelligence agencies and departments. With any luck, the entire defense community as well. Oh, and maybe certain independent IT contractors.

  • Laird

    I agree it’s a “natural synergy”, but in this case that’s a good thing. Like Perry, I consider Snowden a hero, and expect this will be a good film and sympathetic to him. This is one Oliver Stone movie I look forward to seeing.

  • Fraser Orr

    I was watching another movie Thursday and saw the trailer. I nearly choked on my popcorn.

    Based on the trailer I’d say it was going to be a bit of a hagiography of Snowden, who, FWIW, I also consider quite heroic.

  • Paul Marks

    You should not be “aghast” Perry.

    It is exactly what you should have expected.

    Oliver Stone is a bog-standard “vulgar” (Hollywood) leftist – the Western Alliance, to him, is a system for the promotion of “the rich” and “big business”. True freedom will come when the rich (apart from a few Progressive rich people – himself and his friends) are eliminated, and “big business” put under the control of “ordinary people” (or rather the representatives of these “the workers” working via “truly democratic government”).

    Mr Putin himself does not believe in any of this stuff – indeed in the KGB Western Marxists were known as “shit eaters”.

    But they are useful – for the purpose of undermining the West.

    Mr Putin sells missiles to Iran for the same reason.

    Partly it is a HABIT (he has always worked against the West – it is just what Mr Putin is trained to do) and partly because “he likes doing this stuff”.

    A street thug may kick an old woman’s head in – just to see the blood on the pavement.

    Mr Putin has no ideological reason for wanting to see American (or other Western) cities nuked – but, to him, it-would-be-fun.

    Pretty flames – and no “come back” as (after all) he could, quite truthfully, say “it was not me – the Islamists did it” (Sunni or Shia – who cares…..).

    As for Edward Snowden.

    He did not go to Senator Rand Paul or any member of the Senate or the House. He is NOT a “whistle blower” availing himself of the whistle blower Act.

    Mr Snowden went to a leftist (death-to-the-West) journalist (Mr Greenwald) and to the PEOPLES REPUBLIC OF CHINA (the rising threat to all the West – a vast version of Nazi Germany which combines privately owned business enterprises with a totalitarian political system and desire for unlimited-conquest) and to Mr Putin and the FSB. Most likely he had long been working for them – hence his odd trips to certain places years ago.

    I will not discuss Mr Snowden further.

    As discussing him is a waste of time.

    Other than to repeat – of course Oliver Stone likes him.

  • Paul, I will ignore most of your true but irrelevant comment about Putin and just focus upon the relevant part:

    As for Edward Snowden.

    Which is the only relevant part…

    He did not go to Senator Rand Paul or any member of the Senate or the House. He is NOT a “whistle blower” availing himself of the whistle blower Act.

    That is because Snowden is a not a moron. There have been many intelligence whistle blowers, and pretty much all of them have vanished down the memory hole. Why? Because they ended up in Federal jail long enough to get them out of the broader public eye. The exception is Snowden. Only he keeps people aware of the vast unconstitutional panopticon that has been put into place by the US government. And how does he do that? By not being in Federal jail. He remains at large, which the crapulous Rand Paul thinks is not a good thing, because he wants to put him in jail. It appears you dislike Snowden because he has highlighted state malfeasance successfully and outside the system, rather than ineffectually from within the system.

  • The US constitution is an attempt to harness human failings (politicians’ greed for power, institutions’ greed for power) to check each other. Many a thriller or detective story plot relies on the same thing in less designed form: the baddies’ defeat is helped by the treachery of an underling; the perfect crime is derailed by a random thief invading the crime scene, etc. And of course, we all benefitted greatly when Hitler and Stalin fell out.

    It is not necessary to think Snowdow a hero to think we gained from his revelations. Paul has a strong point about taking refuge with Putin. Perry could respond with Churchill’s remark after the attack on Russia: “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would at least make a favourable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

    The upcoming film will prove diagnostic. If Snowdon enables the spin that Stone will put on it, then Perry will have to move from aghast to re-evaluating his hero. If Snowdon blocks or refuses to collaborates with, or denounces (or, unlikely, squeezes truth out of Oliver, as blood from a Stone), then Perry will be able to assert the evidence of this regard for truth in Snowdon.

    For myself, I have a hard time imagining that Snowdon is not paying for his stay in in Putin’s Russia in a dishonourable way, but in view of the Gary Lineker affair, I will not claim to _know_ this.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, I said it above, but just to be clear: I do think Stone will present Snowden as David to the NSA’s Goliath.

    I also agree with Paul about Glenn Greenwald, who suddenly became almost everybody’s darling, regardless of Wing affiliation. I call him an opportunistic journalist who, prior to the Snowden Affair, could be relied upon to follow the direction of spin of what an online pal of mine calls the Big Left Media. His pieces always had that old leftish fragrance.

    Niall, interesting observations.

  • Alisa

    I do think Stone will present Snowden as David to the NSA’s Goliath.

    Which is exactly what he has been. Note that no hero is perfect, not even in the Old Testament, and that includes David.

  • Alisa

    Niall, the Gary Lineker affair?

  • Paul has a strong point about taking refuge with Putin.

    Actually no, it is the weakest point of a weak argument.

    There was one requirement for Snowden when he had to decide were to run to: it had to be a place to keep him out of a US jail or his mission to keep the spotlight on what he told the world failed.

    So… that means China, Russia, Eritrea, Iran, Venezuela. It has to be somewhere the US has little to no influence, somewhere willing and able to middle finger the Americans, so where?

    Very sensibly he chose the Special Administrative Region of China that was First World, has a largely free press and is actually nice to live in: Hong Kong.

    Unfortunately Bejing thought he was too hot to handle and nixed that so (HK turns out to be less autonomous than hoped)…

    Eritrea was not a serious option for anything (it makes all the others look like Switzerland), Caracus is the most violent city in the world by some measures and the US might send SpecOps in to get him, Tehran is a fascist Islamic dystopia and the US might send SpecOps in to get him… so Second World Moscow it is, because it is clear the US will not send SpecOps after him inside irritable nuclear armed Russia.

    If staying out of a US jail is an *absolute* mission requirement for success, there are really very very few places he could go.

    Also, as he was doing something to stick it to the US security state, of course Snowden had to turn to people who were redolent with anti-Americanism. Had he turned up in Kettering asking to sleep on the couch of a certain pro-American libertarian whilst he got the word out about what the NSA/GCHQ was really doing, he would be in Fort Levenworth right now and people would be saying “Edward Who?”

  • Oh and one more point: I do not think Snowden is a Russian agent, But even if he was, it does not make the evidence supported facts he has released any less true. He has been proven to be telling the truth over and over and over again.

    Therefore if Putin was running him, it would be the first time he ever did something that was an objective good for the western world by shining a light on the panoptic horror that has come into existence.

    So no, of course Snowden is not Putin’s agent. Putin hates the western world and the reason he is harbouring Snowden is to stick his finger in America’s eye and this just dropped in his lap because Hong Kong did not work out as hoped.

  • Alisa

    Niall, the Gary Lineker affair?

    Ahem, sorry about that – was before coffee… 🙂

  • Mr Ed

    The thing with Mr Snowden is the incongruity, as if Frodo Baggins were denouncing the evil effects of the Ring on the politics and governance of the Shire from exile, on Mordor Today.

  • Alisa

    Not only denouncing, but releasing tons of relevant information supporting his denunciations. Which, as Perry explained so well so many times, is rather impossible to do from a prison cell.

    It often sounds to me as if Obama/Rand Paul were to push Snowden off a cliff (which they publicly said they would), and Putin would have extended him a hand – Snowden’s detractors would rather he rejected that hand, because Putin is motivated by his own interests. Well, personally I’m giving Snowden a pass for not being suicidal, whatever his motives are. The fact that his being alive and outside of prison helps him release information very useful to all of us is a huge bonus.

    As to whether the fact that he is being helped by Putin (rather than by…whom, exactly?) makes him Putin’s agent to begin with – well, one could speculate either way, but I have seen nothing so far that amounts to anything more than speculation.

  • Tedd

    Snowden deserves better than Stone. A biased accounting of events, which Stone is sure to deliver, is not an advantage to Snowden’s cause even if that bias seems to be in his favour. Snowden will come to be regarded as merely another conspiracy theorist, and the facts will be lost in the noise.

  • Alisa

    Good point, Tedd.

  • Perry de Havilland (London) May 1, 2016 at 10:25 am: “… even if he was, it does not make the evidence supported facts he has released any less true. …”

    Perry, we appear to be agreeing on the point that the acts of someone who may be no hero can still sometimes bring important truth to light. You wrote, “I do not think Snowden is a Russian agent”. If you had written, ” I do not think Snowden _was_ a Russian agent”, I’d agree 100%. I’d be very surprised to learn that the affair was a (not so very) ex-KGB man’s idea, rather than something Putin only became involved in well after it happened. And I’d be incredulous if it were suggested that not only was it Putin’s plan but it was _dis_-information they used: that a poor maligned Obama and subordinates never allowed any of this.

    However I also believe the Russians today are good – as the KGB was good – at recruiting people, easing them half-wittingly from stage to stage. If Snowdon vigorously resists Oliver’s attempts to do likewise, that would be a case for saying he may have resisted the less-resistable Russians. And if not then very much not. Such is my analysis.

    (For the record, I also don’t wholly agree with your idea of how limited his options were at the point he went to Russia. I don’t dispute he had a problem but your weightings and shortlist of countries are not mine. However I’d be very happy to agree to disagree about that, since I think it could be a long discussion of limited interest or use.)

    Meanwhile, I’m keeping my analysis of the importance of his information quite separate from my analysis of the purity of his motives or – which is yet a third issue – the strength of his character in subsequent adversity.

  • Laird

    I agree with everything Perry said here (I’ve previously said much the same myself), so there is no point in repeating it. But I would add that, in addition to agreeing that there is no indication that Snowden was a Russian agent at the time of his disclosures, there is also no evidence that he has become one since. He has consistently asserted that he gave his only copy of the data to Greenwald, and there is no indication that that is untrue. Without that, worst case Snowden could give the Russians whatever information is in his head, but none of the reams of data he stole (much of which he allegedly never read). And if any intelligence operations or assets had been compromised by his revelations you can be certain that the US government would have been shouting it from the rooftops, which has not happened.

    By the way, if anyone hasn’t read Glenn Greenwald’s book on the whole episode I highly recommend it. I do agree with Julie that Greenwald is generally reliably leftist, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t right sometimes. This was one of those times.

  • Laird, there is a dissonance between, on the one hand, believing that the power and ruthlessness of (insert your favourite love-to-hate US agency here) abroad was such that Snowdon had little choice but to go to Russia – that, for example, asking a furious-her-phone-was-bugged Merkel to give him asylum would have had a snowball’s chance in hell – while _simultaneously_, on the other hand, thinking it probable he can be pursue his private cause in Russia without paying some ‘tax’ to the oh-so-libertarian Putin. You could think the latter _possible_ – one may imagine a scenario where Putin decided that letting Snowdon do his own thing was the best option for Putin, propaganda-wise – but can you simultaneously believe it _probable_ (or believe that Snowdon, in choosing to go there, could have rationally believed it _probable_ ?)

    “… worst case, Snowden could give the Russians whatever information is in his head …” His experience likely means he would be able to give them information about methods and personalities that is of little relevance in helping us know how our right to privacy is threatened, but of some use to Russians seeking to penetrate the US and threaten it for their own purposes.

    You, Perry and I are agreeing in our assessment of how l’affaire-Snowdon started, and of the information it gave us; we merely differ in our relative weighting of the moralities and probabilities of his later decisions. I’d be happy to let this thread end in some agreement-to-disagree over that. Perry will no doubt wish to give his summing up of his view. We will all know more when we see how he and Stone interact.

  • Oily Stone is a royally gilded bell-end who “wanks higher than any in Wome”.

    He has a wife you know…

  • on the other hand, thinking it probable he can be pursue his private cause in Russia without paying some ‘tax’ to the oh-so-libertarian Putin

    Why would he need to pay a ‘tax’ when every time the word “Snowden” appears in the media somewhere, something that only happens because Snowden is not in jail, you can almost hear the grinding of teeth in Fort Meade, Maryland? Having people constantly reminded about the panopticon makes the USA look bad (as well it should) and that of course makes Putin happy. And whilst I am always sad any time Putin is happy, it is a small price to pay on this occasion.

    So unless you have some actually evidence that Snowden subsequently rolled over, it is a weak argument, Niall. To quote Laird’s remark:

    And if any intelligence operations or assets had been compromised by his revelations you can be certain that the US government would have been shouting it from the rooftops, which has not happened.


  • Alisa

    While I am overall with Perry and Laird on this, I agree with Niall that it will be instructive to observe if and what role will Snowden have played in the making of this film. I am not sure it will help us reach any concrete conclusions with regard to his relationship with Putin, but I do think that it will be indicative of his character.

  • Laird

    “pursue his private cause in Russia”

    What “private cause” is that? At this point his work is done; he delivered all of the data to the journalists and allowed them to decide what to release, and when. There have been no new revelations from him since his flight to Moscow. All he does is occasionally consent to an interview or appear (electronically) on a panel discussing privacy issues. His only function now is to have his name occasionally crop up, to remind everyone just how massively and pervasively invasive the US intelligence “industry” has become (which wouldn’t happen as much if he were languishing in one of the CIA’s black sites, because journalists wouldn’t have access to him). If you want to consider that to be furthering his “private cause”, so be it. But that certainly doesn’t necessitate the payment of any “tax” to Putin.

    And as to Snowden’s “information about methods and personalities”, that is probably extremely limited. Remember, he wasn’t a field operative or in management; he was an analyst, a computer technician. Knowing the “personalities” of the techs in the next cubicles is of limited value.

  • Thailover

    Well, yesterday was “May Day”, or international worker’s day, which is literally celebrated by communists, and socialists alike, as well as giving a warm feeling in the underpants to labor unions. (I see a common theme here). But the day also has a history on the other end of the isle, as it was the publication day of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and the formation day for the Illuminati…(you know, the one that acutally existed) both in 1776. The day is also known for it’s riots, usually by those in the leftist persuation. It wouldn’t surprise me if Oliver Stone’s trailers started running on May 01. I don’t mind a leftist view of history, but I do dislike OS’s intentionally falsified history that he seems to get away with by presenting it as an artistic rendition.

    Let’s call fictionalized “facts” about real people and events what they really are…lies.

  • Thailover

    “Oily Stone is a royally gilded bell-end who “wanks higher than any in Wome”.

    He has a wife you know…

    He’s still a wanker.

  • Thailover

    Yes, Putin is “motivated by his own interests”, but what national lead isn’t? I find it hilarious that in today’s world people still regard Russia as the Big Bad. Russia could indeed be the Big Bad, but is too broke to put very much effort into it without a strong purpose or agenda, and spreading communism in the west is not it.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Thailover: There is a difference between between pursuing the interests of one’s nation as a member of a mutually respectful and cooperative community of nations, and as a thug out to plunder and subjugate other nations, either directly or by proxy. The latter policy may seem to be in the interests of thug rulers, but is rarely in the interests of the people of the nation. Has it been in the Russian people’s interest to invade Ukraine and Georgia?

    And while Russia may be “broke”, it still possesses very large military assets with which to make trouble and arm troublemakers and tyrants. And it does.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Rich: Indeed.

    And there’s no law I know of saying you can’t be a fairly murderous thug out to expand your turf and aggrandize yourself (the former being an example of the latter) without necessarily wanting everybody to worship at the Church of Marx.

  • Thailover

    Rich, if national leaders were put on trial for being self serving rather than looking out for the people that compose their nation, they would all be sent directly to hell.

  • Thailover

    Tedd said,
    “Snowden deserves better than Stone”.

    Quite right. Unfortunately, even though Stone will, in all probability, present Snowden as something akin to captain america blowing up the headquaters of S.H.I.E.L.D. because it had become irreparably undermined and thus unwittingly became the enemy of the people, it’ll STILL be bad for Snowden because, IMO, the views of the far conservative right and the views of the illiberal left are two sides of the SAME COIN. Meaning that the far conservative right see snowden harming “american interest”, as they see “american interest” in having rogue departments capable of doing anything with impunity, and they LIKE this as long as it’s secret no one has accountability. The illiberal left will no doubt see snowden as taking down the “rogue cowboy” western powers, the corporatists and the “fascist” fat cat rich white people who “run things” in western intelligencia.

    What will get lost in the muddle is the version where snowden was actually concerned with protecting the individual rights of citizens; the snowden that actually knows that the Bill of Rights was not created to protect citizens from other citizens, but to protect citizens from the government. What will also be lost in the shuffle is the point that the government is not the nation. As a card carrying “hollywood” elitist illiberal statist, Stone no doubt has no conscious idea that the governmet and a nation are two separate entities.

  • Thailover

    Rich, BTW, I’m not suggesting that Putin is a bundle of sunshine. I’m suggesting that the image of him as the Big Bad while other “world leaders” are viewed and innocuous is, well, just sooo 1980’s.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Thailover: Especially so-called heroes like Churchill, Thatcher, Reagan, Lincoln, or Washington. All national leaders, and therefore corrupt, self-serving villains. Right?

    As to Putin, he is not the only villain in the world, or even the worst, but he is the strongest.