- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 7, 2004

‘Soul-sapping exploitation’

The Army, “citing concerns about drugs, prostitution and violence,” recently banned soldiers from patronizing a strip club and similar sex establishments near Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga.

The article “Military’s ban slows business” (Culture, Thursday) notes that such “business owners said they develop close bonds with the young soldiers and treat them like family.” Bilking soldiers for prurient pleasures and propagating an environment of drugs, prostitution and violence hardly seems a family value. Prostitution, strip clubs and other sex-based businesses also contaminate a community with the risk of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases while virtually sentencing the exploited women to infection, degradation, violence or death.

Experts contend that some U.S. soldiers abroad have sullied our country’s reputation by fueling a continuum of commercial sexual exploitation that stretches from stripping to live sex shows to prostitution. U.S. soldiershavereportedly spawned a huge sex industry that preys upon poor and vulnerable women and children in the Philippines, South Korea and other countries.

Soldiers patronizing places that peddle human flesh also spreadsextrafficking,a scourge targeted by President Bush as “one of the worst offenses against human dignity.”

Accordingly, in January, the Defense Department rightly issued a memo forbidding U.S. troops from any involvement in human trafficking. Reports of soldiers facilitating this modern-day slavery prompted the United States to lead the way at a June NATO summit, where Allied leaders endorsed a “‘zero-tolerance policy’ for forces in NATO operations to help combat trafficking in persons.”

At home or abroad, our soldiers carry the honor of their country wherever they go. The Army is right to guard this honor while also protecting women and children from soul-sapping exploitation.


Liaison for the abolition

of sexual trafficking

Salvation Army



Senior policy analyst

Christian Medical Association

Ashburn, Va.

Blame lies elsewhere

I loved Michelle Malkin’s speech excerpts,”Decency takes a stand” (Culture, Wednesday), decrying the immodest dress of so many young girls and women - until I read the last five paragraphs blaming it all on the “liberals.” Most feminists - who Mrs. Malkin would surely deride as liberals - would agree that young women should dress more modestly. The blame for such immodesty lies not with the “liberals,” but rather with the image of woman-as-sex-object foisted upon society by the male-dominated fashion and marketing industries.



An ally against terror

Arnaud de Borchgrave asserts, without any tangible evidence, that “Pakistani intelligence officers knew beforehand all about the September 11 attacks” (“Real terror culprit,” Commentary, Monday).

At a time when Pakistanis were still burying the dead and tending to the wounded victims of the cowardly terrorist attack on Pakistan’s finance minister, Mr. de Borchgrave leveled accusations against us using vague and unsubstantiated information corroborated only by his own far-fetched notions. Ironically, Pakistani forces apprehended a man suspected of perpetrating the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa just before the column was published.

The negativity with which Mr. de Borchgrave views Pakistan borders on the absurd. Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, which Mr. de Borchgrave so casually brushes off, is significant. The Pakistani army, despite other national-security threats, currently maintains a force of nearly 100,000 solely for anti-terrorism efforts. President Pervez Musharraf has also not faltered in his commitment to the war on terror, in spite of several assassination attempts

The column conveniently ignores the fact that Pakistan has apprehended and handed over nearly 500 terrorism suspects to the United States. I suppose this is how people such as Mr. de Borchgrave thank allies in the war on terror.

U.S. officials have lauded the way Gen. Musharraf handled the proliferation activities of a Pakistani scientist. Nuclear proliferation predates the A.Q. Khan episode and includes an expansive set of facts outside the Khan network.


Deputy chief of mission

Embassy of Pakistan


Baby, we were born to… campaign?

Demonstrating that wisdom may not always improve with age, Bruce Springsteen and a gaggle of other lefty musicians announced concerts in several key states during October to help influence the vote for Sen. John Kerry (“Rockers for Kerry,” Inside Politics, Nation, Thursday).

I don’t support Mr. Kerry’s candidacy, although in some future election, I might vote for a Democrat. Regardless, I don’t begrudge Mr. Springsteen, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Jackson Browne and other aging has-beens in the music industry their right speak out on behalf of their preferred candidate. I’m just amazed at their apparent lack of business acumen.

After all, with our country as evenly divided as pundits claim, why would people whose livelihoods depend on attracting as many consumers as possible risk alienating nearly half that customer base with such a partisan stance as this concert tour?

We Americans patronize the entertainment industry in order to enjoy a momentary respite from the grind of daily life, even when we suspect that a performer’s views might not correspond with our own. But when musicians (or actors) offer up unsolicited statements about their politics or morals, it hampers our ability to enjoy those momentary respites, especially when our views differ from the performers’. As a result, many Americans take their patronage elsewhere.

During World War II, a number of Americans (including prominent people such as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh) opposed war against Germany but supported war against Japan. Now, suppose Bing Crosby, an enormously popular crooner of that era, had publicly opposed war against Germany and announced his intention to perform concerts to help defeat President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s re-election effort.

Is there any doubt that Mr. Crosby’s record sales, radio appearances and product endorsement offers would have plummeted? Even if Mr. Crosby held such views, he wouldn’t have exercised such poor judgment. So what explains the statements of performers such as Mr. Springsteen? I can think of two answers: Poor business sense or else a lack of concern about offending their potential fan base. Because these people have achieved success in their field, the latter answer is more likely. It also indicates a good deal of arrogance.



I am not saying that celebrities should not be allowed to express their opinions. The First Amendment applies to everyone. It would be appropriate for them to express those views during interviews. However, using their concerts as platforms for lectures on politics and taking up segments of news and commentary programs seems to be undue influence.

I am disappointed in Bruce Springsteen. I feel that way because songs such as “The River,” “Thunder Road” and “One Step Up” implied an identification with regular guys — the “little” people who work hard but do not have a great deal of money or power.

If I could ask Mr. Springsteen one question, it would be: Why are you trying to overpower the voices of the regular people, who don’t have a platform, to further your own political agenda?


Silver Spring

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