You are browsing the archive for 2019 February 07.

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The Shocking Photo of 'Whipped Peter' That Made Slavery's Brutality Impossible to Deny

February 7, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

An escaped slave named Peter showing his scarred back at a medical examination in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1863.

By the time he made it to a Union encampment in Baton Rouge in March 1863, Peter had been through hell. Bloodhounds had chased him. He had been pursued for miles, had run barefoot through creeks and across fields. He had survived, if barely. When he reached the soldiers, Peter’s clothing was ragged and soaked with mud and sweat.

But his ten-day ordeal was nothing compared to what he had already been through. During Peter’s enslavement on John and Bridget Lyons’ Louisiana plantation, Peter endured not just the indignity of slavery, but a brutal whipping that nearly took his life. And when he joined the Union Army after his escape from slavery, Peter exposed his scars during a medical examination.

Raised welts and strafe marks crisscrossed his back. The marks extended from his buttocks to his shoulders, calling to mind the viciousness and power with which he had been beaten. It was a hideous constellation of scars. It was visual proof of the brutality of slavery. And for thousands of white people, it was a shocking image that helped fuel the fires of abolition during the Civil War.

A photograph of Peter’s back became one of the most widely circulated images of slavery of its time, galvanizing public opinion and serving as a wordless indictment of the institution of slavery. The shocking photo of Peter’s disfigured back helped bring the stakes of the Civil War to life, contradicting Southerners’ insistence that their slaveholding was a matter of economic survival, not racism. And it showed just how important mass media was during the war that nearly destroyed the United States.

Not much is known about Peter aside from the testimony he gave the medical examiners at the camp and the image of his back and the keloid scars he suffered from his beating. He told examiners that he had left the plantation ten days ago, and that the man who whipped him was the plantation’s overseer, Artayou Carrier. After the whipping, he was told he had become “sort of crazy” and had threatened his wife. As he lay in bed recovering, the plantation owner fired the overseer. But Peter had already determined to escape.

Slavery in America (TV-PG; 3:01)

Peter and three other enslaved people escaped by cover of …read more


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If Remainers like Free Trade with the EU, Why Not with Rest of the World?

February 7, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Do Remainers favour free trade or protectionism? Are current
tariffs economically significant or not? It’s hard to keep up
with the musings of those opposed to leaving the EU.

On the one hand, anti-Brexit folk such as former chancellor
George Osborne claim Brexit is “the biggest single act of
protectionism in the history of the United Kingdom”. On the
other, leaked government no-deal plans to abolish all tariffs on
worldwide imports this week summoned Remainers’ inner Donald
Trump. Dubbing the idea “sheer lunacy,”
“suicide” and “devastating” to industries
such as agriculture and ceramics, the free-market champions
transformed into outright protectionists.

Sam Dumitriu, of The Entrepreneurs Network, pointed out a
glaring contradiction here. If reducing tariffs would have
“savage” effects on industries by flooding the market
with cheap goods, this suggests consumers are currently greatly
harmed by those same trade barriers. Self-declared industry demands
to be insulated from foreign competition shows the EU’s
protectionism is real, raising prices and reducing choice for

This might seem counterintuitive, but most economists believe
that imports are the key benefit of trade and exports merely the
cost of obtaining them. Import barriers therefore amount to
self-harm, like partially blockading your own ports. All else
equal, unilateral tariff reductions, irrespective of what other
countries do, are economically beneficial. They deliver lower
prices and more choice for consumers, but also impose the
disciplines of competition on our industries, making the economy
more productive. This is precisely why we trade.

That remorseless logic applies whether we open up to goods from
the EU or Timbuktu, deal or no deal. So why is Liam Fox’s
contingency plan so controversial? One explanation is politics.
Remainers are loath to admit there are upsides from Brexit. In the
event of no deal, keeping imports from the EU flowing into the UK
without tariffs requires (under WTO rules) offering the same
tariff-free access to the rest of the world. Remainers can
therefore play on the grievances of those losing EU protection.
Given the costs of tariffs are diffused across the economy, but the
benefits are narrowly concentrated on industries and their workers,
the latter’s cries of anguish will be louder than consumer

Yet there’s an economic argument made too. The problem,
some Remainers say, is that tariffs — having fallen worldwide
over decades — are no longer the key impediment to trade,
especially for a services economy. Unilateral tariff reduction
provides gains, yes, but these will not offset the losses from new
trade barriers developing with the EU. Unilaterally
“disarming” on tariffs will furthermore reduce what we
have to offer countries in coming to trade deals, hindering the
potential to open up new export markets.

This sounds seductively sensible. But …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Trump's Wisdom on Syria and Afghanistan vs. His Rashness on Venezuela

February 7, 2019 in Economics

By Emma Ashford

Emma Ashford

The best line of Tuesday night’s State of the Union was
President Trump’s assertion that “great countries do
not fight endless wars.” Indeed, breaking with his closest
advisors, the President followed this up by reminding America of
two overdue steps: that the U.S. would soon withdraw troops from
Syria, and would accelerate peace negotiations in Afghanistan.

These long-overdue steps are strategically wise, but raise a key
question: Why is the President — even as he makes the right
decisions in Syria and Afghanistan — so keen to make the same
mistakes in Venezuela?

Certainly, throughout his first two years in office, Trump’s
foreign policy has been fraught with contradictions. Take his photo
opportunity summits with Kim Jong Un — a welcome step towards
diplomacy. But go back just a year and you may remember that it was
Trump himself who raised tensions and almost tweeted us into a

In Syria, Trump is
arguing for pragmatism and America’s national interest. In
Venezuela, he’s taking a massive gamble in recognizing Juan Guaido
as president and supporting the Venezuelan opposition.

Likewise, the President’s trenchant criticisms of the costs of
America’s Middle East wars don’t actually reflect reality, as his
administration has instead increased troop commitments to that region by
over 33%. His insults to friendly countries, inclination to cozy up
to dictators and inability to rein in an itchy Twitter finger have
resulted in a chaotic and bizarre foreign policy.

But we must give credit where credit is due. Trump is right on
Syria, and he’s right on Afghanistan. With the bulk of ISIS
forces defeated, there are no U.S. interests at stake in Syria.
Indeed, the presence of thousands of U.S. troops on the ground in
Syria risks dragging us further into a major conflict which
doesn’t concern us. Perhaps more importantly, it risks the
lives of those soldiers for no clear objective.

In Afghanistan, too, the decision to accelerate negotiations and
talk to the Taliban is the right choice. Ultimately, it should lead
to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from that conflict. Afghanistan
has been a military stalemate for many years, and the United States
has achieved its original interests in avenging the 9/11 attacks.
The country may not be fully stable, but there is no real
likelihood that the continued presence of U.S. forces will improve
the situation. To borrow a line from last night’s speech,
it’s time to give our troops there “a warm welcome

What makes these decisions all the more remarkable is that the
President continues to defy his advisors on these issues. Indeed,
in recent weeks Trump advisors from Secretary of State …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Ignore the Free-Riding International Peanut Gallery

February 7, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Control Washington and you control the world. At least, that is
what many foreign interests believe. Other countries have long had
strong opinions about what America should do internationally, and
have sought to see those ideas implemented in D.C. No surprise,
then, that what they propose usually benefits them more than

America’s policymakers should ignore this advice, no
matter how fervently it’s offered. And if any president is
willing to tell this self-interested chorus to shut up, it is
Donald Trump.

Among the notable nations lobbying for America’s attention
are Israel and Taiwan, otherwise isolated and vulnerable
governments that seek Washington’s military backing. Greece
and Turkey have carried their battle in the eastern Mediterranean
back to D.C., as they fight over America’s role there.
Kosovar insurgents worked with ethnic Albanians in the U.S. to push
Washington into the Yugoslav civil war in 1999. Gulf countries,
especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, spread cash
lavishly around the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to pressure American
policymakers into such atrocities as the Yemen war.

Foreigners nudging
America into their wars have brought us only debt and

The consequences can be long-lasting. After the collapse of the
Soviet Union, the governments of the newly freed Eastern European
states lobbied to join NATO. Their diasporas in the United
States—derisively called “hyphenated Americans”
during World War I—helped win Washington’s support. The
result was a rapid expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders,
compounding humiliation with hostility, which continues to bedevil
the West’s relations with Moscow today.

Sometimes foreigners talk as if they should be consulted and
heeded whenever U.S. policymakers act. In many cases, Washington
has created this problem. Alliances in which other states
theoretically have authority over American military deployments
encourage foreign meddling. For instance, the Obama administration
intervened in Libya at least partially in response to pressure from
Rome and Paris, which wanted to use the transatlantic alliance to
oust Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi. Europeans were essentially
returning the favor by which Washington had dragged them into the
seemingly endless Afghan war, which never made sense for them.

NATO is particularly problematic, since it’s made ever
less sense as foreign threats have diminished, Europeans’
capabilities increased, and gaps between allies’ interests
expanded. Although America remains the big kahuna, recently
empowered “friends” assert authority over U.S.
decisions and behavior. Today, the transatlantic alliance is made
up of one transcendent military power, America, and eight
moderately important nations with serious, or at least potentially
serious, militaries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain,
Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

The remaining score of NATO members are, well, largely
irrelevant. That doesn’t mean they don’t contribute to
and suffer losses in Western military …read more

Source: OP-EDS