Zinn-ian conspiracy theories, propounded engagingly and energetically by filmmaker and gadfly Stone and Cold War scholar Kuznick (History/American Univ.).
If you’ve read Howard Zinn—or if, like Jeff Lebowski, the Port Huron Statement is still current news for you—then you’ll have at least some of the outlines of this overstuffed argument. Premise 1: Though the United States may pretend to be a nice, cuddly sort of democracy, it’s the font of much trouble in the world. Premise 2: When, post-9/11, neocons began pondering why it wouldn’t be such a bad idea for the U.S. to become an imperial power, they were missing a train (or Great White Fleet) that had pulled out of the station long ago. Premise 3: We like European fascists better than Asian fascists, as evidenced by propaganda posters depicting our erstwhile Japanese foes as rats and vermin. Premise 4: War is a racket that benefits only the ruling class. Premise 5: JFK knew more than he had a chance to make public, and he was gunned down for his troubles. And so forth. Layered in with these richly provocative (and eminently arguable) theses are historical aperçus and data that don’t figure in most standard texts—e.g., the showdown between Bernard Baruch and Harry Truman (“in a colossal failure of presidential leadership”) that could only lead to a protracted struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union for post–World War II dominance. Some familiar villains figure in as well, notably the eminently hissable Henry Kissinger and his pal Augusto Pinochet; the luster of others whom we might want to think of as good guys dims (George H.W. Bush in regard to Gorbachev), while other bad guys (George W. Bush in regard to Saddam Hussein) get worse.
Preaching to the choir, perhaps, but an invigorating sermon all the same.