On September 23, President Bush “implored the international community to stand for something other than self-interest and moral relativism,” observed former New York Times correspondent Clifford May. Standing before the United Nations General Assembly, Bush called for unity in fighting terrorism and establishing freedom in the
He talked about the need to rebuild
What was not expected, but came as a great surprise, was the third part of the president’s speech. Civilized nations also share a “challenge to our conscience,” said Bush. “We must act decisively to meet the humanitarian crises of our time.” The president then discussed funding proposals to combat AIDS and famine. And he spent a significant amount of time addressing the problem of sex trafficking.
“Each year, an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold, or forced across the world’s borders,” he said. “Among them are hundreds of thousands of teenage girls, and others as young as five, who fall victim to the sex trade.” And this “business” brings in billions of dollars, much of which finances organized crime. “Governments that tolerate this trade are tolerating a form of slavery,” the president said, and as he remarked to Secretary General Kofi Annan, “the world must combine our resources and our will to stop this abhorrent practice.”
Three years ago, while President Clinton was still in office, I convened a meeting on sex trafficking with then-House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, Bill Bennett, and other Christian and Jewish leaders—prominently including, of course, Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute. We vowed to fight this horrendous human rights violation, which until that time had received little attention. The administration then opposed us.