Trialogue Club International Discusses Perspectives for International Dialogue on Reduction of the Nuclear Threat


MOSCOW, OCTOBER 26. PIR PRESS NEWS. “I had already had the intellectual awakening, about the details of nuclear weapons and the nuclear threat, from all the top experts. But did not know what it felt like in my gut—until I went through those 38 minutes.  Even with everything I knew about nuclear war, and nuclear weapons, and Hiroshima, and fallout, and nuclear winter, nuclear war was unimaginable to me—until I went through these 38 minutes”, Founder of NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth and documentary filmmaker Cynthia Lazaroff.

The Trialogue Club International gathered on October, 26 for a lecture and discussion, entitled: “A Preview of the Apocalypse: 2018 Hawaii False Missile Alert: An Eyewitness Account and Lessons for International Dialogue on Reduction of the Nuclear Threat.” Held only a few days after US president Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the landmark INF treaty, the atmosphere of the meeting could have been grave, but was hopeful. General Evgeny Buzhinskiy, Chairman of the Trialogue Club International, captured this feeling in his opening remarks, calling the evening’s topic “quite acute.”

The weight of the topic was juxtaposed with the beautiful pictures of Hawaii framing the room as keynote speakers Cynthia Lazaroff and Dr. Bruce Allyn took the floor. Cynthia Lazaroff is a documentary filmmaker and producer known for her Russian-American exchange initiatives and her environmental and nuclear activism. Dr. Allyn is a senior fellow at the Harvard Negotiation Project known for his extensive work on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Despite their collective decades of experience dealing with issues in the nuclear field, they described the idea of nuclear war as “unimaginable until the alert” which threw their tranquil island of Kauai into a state of fear and panic for 38 minutes last January when all the citizens of the Hawaii state got a message on their phones warning about ballistic missile threat.

“I had already had the intellectual awakening, about the details of nuclear weapons and the nuclear threat, from all the top experts. But I did not know what it felt like in my gut—until I went through those 38 minutes.  Even with everything I knew about nuclear war, and nuclear weapons, and Hiroshima, and fallout, and nuclear winter, nuclear war was unimaginable to me—until I went through these 38 minutes”, shared her experience Ms. Lazaroff.

In their moving lecture, Lazaroff and Allyn described how those 38 minutes impacted them on a personal and professional level. Living through the false missile alert motivated their desire to improve US-Russian relations to reduce the possibility of nuclear conflict. Both stressed the critical need for awareness campaigns and citizen initiatives to force political action. Cynthia Lazaroff outlined their Nuclear Playbook—a series of concrete steps reducing nuclear risk—distilled from her numerous interviews with Russian and American experts in the field, including the “Four Horsemen of the Nuclear Apocalypse” –  former US Defense Secretary Bill Perry, former US Senator Sam Nunn, and former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz.

“In terms of impact of these 38 minutes on policy and congressmen, our congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took the situation as a major event to push even harder an effort to restrict the first use of nuclear weapons. California has voted already to restrict presidential authority for nuclear strike. … Gabbard is also working on requiring congressional approval before the President could taking the country to war,” – mentioned Dr. Allyn an example of concrete policies promoted after the false alert.

Another initiative of Lazaroff and Allyn is called NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth. “Our mission is to catalyze efforts to realize our shared interest in the US-Russia relations to reduce the escalating nuclear danger and we do this through cultural exchange, community engagement, education, film, music. And we encourage peoples of the two countries with over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons to act now, to compel their political leaders to take concrete steps that will immediately reduce the nuclear risk”, explained Lazaroff.

Finally, they ended with a discussion of their current project—a film documenting the journey of Grammy nominated Hawaiian musician, composer and master of native Hawaiian Slack-Key guitar tradition – Makana as he travels Russia to build relationships and foster cross-cultural communication through his music. Makana is increasingly concerned about the growing tensions in US-Russian relations and personally moved to travel to Russia as an ambassador to share the Aloha spirit of Hawai’i and the healing power of music. "It is a privilege and honor to serve as a cultural ambassador, sharing music to bring people together. I come as a humble visitor with the sole desire to share the love I have in my heart in the form of Hawaiian Song, to create bridges of harmony and peace between peoples, and to hopefully create some new songs inspired by the meeting of Hawaiian and Russian music”, shared the musician.

Makana performed in many locations in Moscow and St. Petersburg – in universities, schools, on Russian TV, at public events and cultural venues. He also met with Russian composers and performers, and public persons (for example, a prominent Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner) and demonstrated slack-key guitar in musicology departments.

PIR Center Founder & Special Advisor, Head of the Center for Global Trends and International Organizations at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry and MGIMO Professor Dr. Vladimir Orlov continued with the Hawaiian theme in the second lecture of the evening, entitled: “Russian America: Hawaiian Pages, 200 Years Later.” The idea for his project was born several years ago when, while visiting Kauai, he came across an old building with a conspicuously Russian name. “We in Russia know a lot of stories about Russian America, about Russian American company in the XVIII and XIX centuries. Many people know Alaska, most of the people know better and better Fort Ross in California. They know “Juno and Avos”, a charming rock opera, also involving Russia and America quite a lot, but they heard nothing about Russian Kauai – and this story is not a part of the novel, this is a part of history”, remarked Dr. Orlov. Delving into US and Russian archives, he uncovered the history of Russia’s presence on Kauai during the early 19th century. Drawing from his research, he laid out the deep but little-known connection between a current US state and what was once a tsarist holding, now available at the website: Dr. Orlov finished by discussing his plans for continuation of the project by sharing this history with broader Russian and American audiences in the hopes of fostering deeper understanding and productive dialogue concerning shared period of history.

Makana himself took the stage in the final event of the evening. In between pieces, he discussed the deep impression Russia made on him during the course of his tour, especially the Piskaryovskoye Memorial Cemetery. After the concert, he announced his plan to leave his guitar in Russia—an instrument he has carried with him for twenty years—to demonstrate his commitment to building artistic bridges and as a sign of his intention to return. Russia and America, he stressed, are both “in the same canoe” and must recognize that more unites than divides them. “We know it,” said Dr. Orlov thanking Makana at the end of his emotional performance, “but now I think we feel it. Mahalo, Makana!” Mahalo means “thank you” in Hawaiian.

The meeting was attended by diplomats, military attaches, and Russian experts – individual and corporate members of the Club.

To become a Member of the Trialogue Club International in 2018, participate in the future meetings and receive exclusive analytics bulletin Russia Confidential and other materials from the Trialogue Club International and its partners please contact the Club Secretary Yuliya Sych by phone: +7 (985) 764-98-96 or email: [email protected].

For all questions related to the project “Russian Hawaii” please contact the Project Coordinator Yuliya Tseshkovskaya by phone: +7 (985) 764-98-96 or email: [email protected].