“Pat, the Cold War.” So said Ted Turner to Pat Mitchell over coffee in St. Petersburg – and so began a collaboration that resulted in the 1998 landmark documentary, CNN’s Cold War. To celebrate the May re-release of the documentary on DVD, a powerhouse group took to the Paley stage Sunday night: TEDxWomen’s own hostess with the mostest, Pat Mitchell, Ted Turner, Sir Jeremy Isaacs, and the Honorable President Mikhail Gorbachev. Pat aptly introduced President Gorbachev as “a man that almost everyone in the world believes deeply in their hearts changed the course of history.”
The documentary consists of twenty-four episodes, covering over five decades, whittled down from more than 10,000 hours of original footage. Many perspectives are offered — from presidents around the world to East Berlin border guards. The film received great acclaim, and in 1998, the companion website created by CNN won the first-ever Peabody Award for a website.
Ted Turner and Sir Isaacs recalled how they were motivated by a desire to create an honest and full recounting of the Cold War years, one that would allow viewers to make up their own minds. It was a time in our history, Turner said, where, “For the first time we were in a position to end life on earth and we avoided it. Much to our credit. And that needed to be recorded.”
President Gorbachev warned against complacency. His words were a clarion call — that in celebrating what was avoided, we must not overlook what can happen again: “The Cold War began to spiral… We need to make sure that this spiral does not reemerge, that we do not reignite another war.”
The 1990 Nobel Peace Prize recipient shared a major concern: “I think that the militarization of people’s minds is the most dangerous. This is a danger.”
When Pat asked what he thinks of Russia now, President Gorbachev encouraged Americans to bring some perspective — that a country cannot do in 200 days what it took the United States 200 years to achieve. In order to help Russia go the second half, President Gorbachev offered wise advice: “Listen to us, try to understand us, and support us.”
Though we had TEDxWomen organizers from all over the world last year, we were sad to find that no one signed up from Russia. We’d like to change that this year, so if you know any dynamic women in that part of the world, please tell them about the TEDxWomen community and encourage them to become a part of it! We know that Russia has a long history of incredible women in grassroots leadership and want to learn from them, too.