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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Oliver Stone criticises Iraq war
Film director Oliver Stone
Stone has never shied from controversy
Film director Oliver Stone has spoken out against the war in Iraq, describing it as a "generation-breaking" event.

Stone - already known for his controversial movies and outspoken opinions - said he saw no evidence that war was necessary because of the alleged threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

The major result of the Iraqi conflict, would be to bring more trouble to the world, particularly to the United States, he added.

"I'm really sorry about all this. It is perhaps going to be a generation-breaking event," Stone, a Vietnam veteran, told the BBC's Hardtalk.

I am heartened to see how so many intellectuals and people in my business are saying the same thing
Oliver Stone

"It might tip the balance against America and create a deep resentment... I am afraid it might lead to more terrorist attacks."

Stone, whose films include hard-hitting features such as Natural Born Killers and Born on the Fourth of July, is one of a number of Hollywood stars to voice their objection to the war.

Many have come in for strong criticism in the US from those who believe they should be supporting their president and the coalition attack on Iraq.

But Stone said the celebrities were filling the void left by politicians too afraid to speak out against the war.

Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins
Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have protested openly

"We are risking the ridicule and antagonism of people who consider Hollywood people liberals and airheads," he said.

"But that's exactly when you have to speak and stand up for what you believe.

"I am heartened to see how so many intellectuals and people in my business are saying the same thing."

Stone said there was a tradition within the US of not giving intellectuals and artists "much weight", a belief passed on to the US people by its government.

Cycle of fear

But Stone said he was more concerned by the "big lie" about the danger posed by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

"There is no evidence of it (Iraq) being a threat to America. Most serious people have said this in military and defence positions," Stone said.

When we create an enemy, we unify - we saw it with the Communists in the 1950s and the same thing is going on now but it has transferred to the 'evil' Arab
Oliver Stone on the US attitude to conflict

"The Iraqis have co-operated to a large degree with the UN. There has been substantial progress made. I don't know why this process cannot continue."

In Stone's films Born on the Fourth of July and Platoon, the director paints a harsh and critical picture of the Vietnam War.

He won a best director Oscar for both movies.

But though Stone's focus in these movies is Vietnam, he said he believed his country was always trying to find a new adversary.

"When we create an enemy, we unify. We saw it with the Communists in the 1950s and the same thing is going on now but it has transferred to the 'evil' Arab," Stone said.

He added that the catalyst for the recent escalation of mistrust between the US and the Middle East was the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

But, he concluded, the "hysteria" had now got out of hand. "They don't care if the Arab is in Iraq, Iran or where they are, and that's sad.

"In times like these, you have to focus and know who your enemy really is."





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