It doesn’t get much better than to cover an event at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, where 100 world leaders met up with a few Hollywood types at the 25th anniversary of the historic talks.
Years ago, President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev astonished the world by nearly agreeing to eliminate all nuclear weapons. Cut to 2011, where Global Zero gathered on the apex of heat in October, perhaps the warmest days of the year.
If you’ve never made the trip to Simi Valley where the library sits, you’ve got to go. You’ll drive up a winding road with mesmerizing mountain-top views, five miles from Thousand Oaks.
Approaching the historic building and lush grounds, you see flags with photos of past presidents, a nice touch of Americana, without their political views. All that and complimentary parking, a rare commodity in the city of valet parking and high-priced lots.
Participants of Global Zero included U.S. Secretaries of State George Shultz, who opened the Summit as well as James Baker, who addressed the Gala dinner; with welcome speech by Oscar-winning producer, Lawrence Bender, a founding member of Global Zero and producer of the documentary, Countdown to Zero. General James Cartwright (former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) delivered remarks the following morning.
Following Cartwright, a panel, moderated by Dr. Bruce Blair (Co-founder of Global Zero) included Sir Richard Branson (former eBay president), Jeff Skoll, Amb. Mahud Durrani, Col. Gen (Ret.) Victor Esin, Dr. Lawrence Korb, Gen. (Ret.) Bernard Norlain. We received headsets with translations for the non-English speakers. In this case, my French is adequate, but I don’t speak Russian!
Branson, a successful businessman and CEO of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, lives to the beat of his own drum, as he was the only dignitary in jeans (blazer and open shirt). Everyone else was in the traditional suit and tie.
Said Branson, “The one trillion dollars governments spent on nuclear weapons — whose sole aim is to destroy civilizations — would be far better spent on preserving the world and making it better. And yet, 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, governments are now considering new investments in anachronistic weapons. If nations are looking into cutting spending, the first place they should look is here.”
He added, “If we maintain the status quo and continue wasteful spending on Cold War relics, our children and grandchildren will inherit an earth that has chosen nuclear stockpiling over job growth, education, health care, clean energy, innovation, and other global priorities we should preserve and grow.“
Dignitaries were shuttled in buses to The Four Seasons Hotel, Westlake, where they hung their hats for several days.
Sue Facter’s news agency explores luxury lifestyle brand development and A-list personalities. Her work has appeared in USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and publications worldwide, as well as on broadcasts and the web.