January 14, 2005

The Nick Kristof We Know and Love

Nick Kristof of the New York Times has a big heart, though he often goes off into the liberal woods. In this piece, he's at his best, reporting on child prostitution and slavery, a scourge in Southeast Asia and especially in long-suffering Cambodia:
President Bush has done more than his predecessors in making sex trafficking an issue, and his State Department has done a first-rate job exerting pressure - but there's so much more that we could do. The Bush administration could put a real dent in sex trafficking if we were to treat it as firmly as we do, say, pirated movies, and this brazen incident in Cambodia would be a fine place to start.

In the 19th century, the civilized world recognized that slavery was a moral blot on humanity and rose up against it. So why should we acquiesce in 21st-century slavery, when 15-year-old girls are imprisoned in brothels and sentenced to death by AIDS? Those kids in the Chai Hour II Hotel have nowhere else to turn, and their lives are in our hands.

Pure realpolitik in foreign policy would dictate indifference to this suffering, because it's not involved directly with our sovereign interest. There are, however, some evils, like piracy and slavery, that international standards condemn. Kristof (and President Bush) are to be commended for taking up this issue.

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