The Cold War may be over, but the threat of its aftermath is still very real. That is the message of an upcoming three-day conference hosted by Lawrence and headlined by Mikhail Gorbachev.On October 1, former Soviet president Gorbachev will give a speech at Appleton’s Performing Arts Center on the importance of the grassroots movement in stopping terrorism.
He will speak specifically about the massive stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons left over from the Cold War that are currently being housed in pole sheds in Russia, some secured with little more than a padlock.
Gorbachev will emphasize “security through stability.” He believes that building the economies of the communities surrounding these stockpiles is a crucial step toward stopping terrorism because it will prevent the sale of weapons to groups like al Qaeda.
His theory is that if the people of these areas are supplied with food, clothing, and other amenities, they will be less likely to feel the desperation that often drives people to commit or to facilitate acts of terrorism.
The conference will continue through October 4, with speeches and meetings at Lawrence and various fundraisers throughout the area.
The conference is sponsored by several local businesses and is organized by the Fox Cities-Kurgan Sister Cities Program, Inc., a partnership started more than a decade ago with the southwestern Siberian city.
In addition to the Fox Cities-Kurgan partnership, four other Russian-American partnerships will participate. That aspect is unique to this conference because partnership groups rarely interact in this manner. The organizations hope to share ideas on how to rebuild the Russian communities based on what has worked in the past.
In addition to these private meetings, there will also be portions of the conference to which the public will be invited, though the audience will be asked to refrain from asking questions.
The speakers include Paul Walker, director of the Cold War Legacy Program of Global Green, USA, and the vice governor of Kurgan, Alexander Mazein. Over 30 Russian delegates will be on campus for the conference.
Tickets to President Gorbachev’s speech are available through the PAC and range from $15-$35. For a complete listing of the events open to the public at Lawrence, see page 4.