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D. Burton: Address to World Summit 2013

Peace, freedom, and human rights are probably the greatest goals that mankind has ever devised. The problem is, there’s more to it than just freedom and human rights and peace. The problem throughout history is that there have been tyrants who want to take away people’s freedoms and their rights.

One of the things that Ronald Reagan taught us when I was in the Congress of the United States and I worked with him was that the way to make sure that you have peace is to be so strong that no tyrant is going to try to take away that peace. When Ronald Reagan faced Gorbachev and the communist empire, he didn’t wince; he didn’t back down. He showed that he wanted to negotiate with them; he wanted to talk with them. He wanted to work toward peace, but he wanted to do it in a way that they knew that he meant it; and if peace did not succeed, he was prepared to do whatever was necessary to stop the onslaught of the expansion of communism.

Now if you go all the way back to World War I, it was to be the war to end all wars. At the end of the war they decided that the best way to make sure there was going to be peace was to destroy weapons that would kill enemies. They sunk battleships, they destroyed planes and tanks, and they demilitarized themselves because they said that was the best way to make sure there was peace.

Unfortunately, there was a gentleman in Germany named Adolf Hitler who violated the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles said that you could only have 100,000 people in your military, and they said that to make sure there would be no more attacks by Germany. And instead of those numbers being a small army, Hitler made that the cadre, the trainers for a multi-million man army. He built the Luftwaffe and a huge military machine, while all the rest of the world was saying, "He’s not going to do anything. Everything’s going to be fine."

Winston Churchill in the British Parliament warned again and again and again of a coming war, but nobody would listen. So finally Lord Chamberlain, the Prime Minister of England, went to Munich, Germany, and met with Adolf Hitler. He said, "We’ll give you the Sudetenland if you’ll promise not to expand your sphere of influence." And Hitler said, "I will." Lord Chamberlain went back to England and waved the peace agreement, saying, "peace in our time." Hitler invaded Poland, and 50 million people died. Fifty million.

I bring this up because we’re all for peace and we want to make sure peace prevails. But the one thing we must always remember is there will always be tyrants who want to take over our freedoms and force us into their way of life, or to take away those things that we hold dear. While we talk about peace we must remember there are those who advocate taking people’s rights away from them and leading those people and those countries in different directions.

I want to talk just a little bit about the Western hemisphere. After Fidel Castro became the communist leader of Cuba, he wanted to expand his sphere of influence not only in the Western hemisphere but also into Africa. He sent 38,000 troops into Angola to try to expand communism throughout Africa. And to South America he sent Che Guevara to undermine governments and turn many of those governments into communist dictatorships. I went into Granada right after our invasion, and they had built a 5,000-foot runway to bring weapons from Fidel Castro’s Cuba into Granada as a launching pad into South America.

So there are always going to be people who want to take away our freedoms and are willing to use whatever is necessary to do it.

Ronald Reagan said time and again, "peace through strength." In other words, talk peace, meet with people, and work with them for peace, but at the same time realize there are those who will take away those freedoms if we let them. Thomas Jefferson said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. You have to be ready to do what’s necessary to protect peace, to protect your way of life.

And so, as we meet and talk about peace, let us not forget how important it is that the way to keep peace is to be so strong that those who would take it away would not dare to do it, in any part of the world.

I am so happy to be among all of you who are talking about peace, but when we talk of mankind’s love for one another, remember that there are always going to be those like Hitler, like Stalin, like Mussolini, and like Castro who would take away those freedoms if we let them. And the only way to avoid that while we talk peace and discuss terms of peace is to be so strong they wouldn’t dare take it away.

For more information about World Summit 2013, click here.