Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer recently hosted veterans Ron Kovic, an anti-war activist and author, and documentary filmmaker Oliver Stone at the University of Southern California for a discussion on war, peace and the American military-industrial complex. Kovic and Stone served in the Vietnam War, an experience that shaped their lives and their politics.

In the clip above, Kovic, Stone and Scheer respond to an audience question about watershed moments in U.S. history—specifically, at what moment did U.S. foreign policy “go off the rails.”

Scheer answers first, discussing the collapse of constitutional protections under President Trump and concluding that American foreign entanglements of the 20th century were the beginning of our collapse.

Kovic provides a more personal response: “The night I pulled the trigger and killed somebody for the first time,” he tells the audience.

“The Vietnam War, I think people will look back and see it as an extraordinary turning point in American history,” Kovic continues. “What that war did to me and did to the Vietnamese people—that war shattered something within the American journey, just stopped it in its tracks. Something happened, and it’s never been the same since, and yet the warmongering continues.”

Stone then analyzes how Presidents Truman and Eisenhower both contributed to today’s pro-war political rhetoric, ultimately concluding that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the most “symbolic” moments in “the history of the world.”

“That [was] an act of terror. And it created tremendous fear and terror in the world,” Stone concludes. “It went into our consciousness. And we deny it.”

Watch the clip in the player above, and check out the full interview, as well as links to other Veterans Day material, here.

–Posted by Emma Niles

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig