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How a Movement to Send Freed Slaves to Africa Created Liberia

April 1, 2019 in History

By Becky Little

The biggest question facing the leaders of the United States in the early 19th century was what to do about slavery. Should it continue or should the U.S. abolish it? Could the country really be home to free black people and enslaved black people at the same time? And if the U.S. ended slavery, would freed men and women remain in the country or go somewhere else?

Many white people at this time thought the answer to that last question to send free black Americans to Africa through “colonization.” Starting in 1816, the American Colonization Society—which counted James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay and Francis Scott Key among its members—sought to create a colony in Africa for this purpose. This was 50 years before the U.S. would abolish slavery. Over the next three decades, the society secured land in West Africa and shipped people to the colony, which became the nation of Liberia in 1847.

The New York chapter of the Colonization Society began in 1817.

The society spent its first few years trying to secure land in West Africa. In 1821, it made a deal with local West African leaders to establish a colony at Cape Mesurado. The strip of land was only 36 miles long and three miles wide (today, Liberia stretches over 38,250 square miles) The next year, the society began sending free people—often groups of families—to the colony. Over the next 40 years, upwards of 12,000 freeborn and formerly enslaved black Americans immigrated to Liberia.

The American Colonization Society was distinct from black-led “back to Africa” movements that argued black Americans could only escape slavery and discrimination by establishing their own homeland, says Ousmane Power-Greene, a history professor at Clark University and author of Against Wind and Tide: The African American Struggle against the Colonization Movement. Though some free black Americans may have supported the society’s mission, there were also plenty who criticized it.

“They argue that their sweat and blood, their family who were once enslaved, built this country; so therefore they had just as much right to be here and be citizens,” he says. In addition, many argued “this is a slaveholders’ scheme to rid the nation of free blacks in an effort to make slavery more secure.”

In the beginning, the American Colonization Society didn’t uniformly believe that slavery should end. The society was made up of white men from the north …read more


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China Is a Problem, but the U.S. Must Not Treat Beijing as an Enemy

April 1, 2019 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

The Cold War ended three decades ago. People around the world
breathed more freely. For a brief moment the U.S. government cut
military budgets and reduced armament levels.

However, many American policymakers seem to fear living in a
world without an enemy. The Trump administration has targeted the
People’s Republic of China. Vice President Mike Pence
recently spoke of the challenges posed by Beijing—economic,
ideological, military, and political. He denounced the PRC for
“using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors, while
militarizing features in the South China Sea” and announced
that Washington would no longer ignore such threats.

In justifying the Pentagon’s latest budget proposal,
acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan intoned “China,
China, China.” He told the Senate Armed Services Committee
that “We’ve been ignoring the problem for too

When the People’s Republic of China first turned toward
economic reform and international engagement, many Americans
imagined it morphing into a liberal democratic republic. However,
today Beijing is moving backwards at a rapid rate. The Trump
administration focused on economic issues, but potentially more
significant is the expansion of authoritarian, even totalitarian
controls. Beyond its own borders the PRC is offering a competing
model of economic opportunity, mixed with political control.

Washington and Beijing
are likely to face numerous challenges in their complicated
international dance in the 21st century. But the two states can,
and must, work to reduce the likelihood of conflict.

Despite its international ambitions, China’s principal
challenge to America is not its military. Washington’s armed
forces far outrange those of China in scope and experience. The
U.S. has a vast nuclear advantage. America’s navy roams
around the globe, deploying 11 aircraft carriers. Beijing has one,
with two more under construction. Washington deploys air and ground
forces throughout the Asia-Pacific, while the PRC has no forces
within range of the U.S.

China is investing heavily in its military, and might eventually
match Washington’s armed forces. However, given
America’s lead, that would take years or decades. Even then
the PRC would not seriously threaten the U.S. Deterrence works.

The chief military challenge posed by China is its determination
to prevent America from dominating the former’s neighborhood.
Washington has an interest in maintaining navigational freedom, but
that is not currently at risk, since Beijing cannot prevent
American access. Indeed, the PRC has consciously avoided direct
confrontation with Washington, for good reason.

Although the U.S. benefits from its unnaturally expansive role
in East Asia, the cost of maintaining that against a rising power
like China will become ever more expensive. It costs the U.S. far
more to build and protect a carrier than for Beijing to sink one.
Hence the Pentagon’s concern over so-called anti-access/area

While the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Nicaragua: Washington's Other Hemispheric Nemesis

April 1, 2019 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The Trump administration continues to tighten the screws on
Venezuela’s left-wing regime, imposing new economic sanctions and recognizing
Juan Guido’s claim to be the country’s new interim president over
current ruler Nicolás Maduro. Trump has openly lobbied the
Venezuelan military to break
with Maduro
, and has stated ominously that “all options”— including apparently
a U.S. military intervention— remain on the table. There is
little doubt that the administration is pursuing regime change in

While most of the attention is focused on the volatile situation
in Venezuela, however, another crisis is brewing nearby in
Nicaragua. As in Venezuela, rising domestic discontent with a
socialist government has led to large-scale demonstrations
demanding change. And as in Venezuela, the beleaguered regime has
responded with harsh, authoritarian measures.

Nicaragua’s incumbent president is Washington’s old
nemesis from the 1980s, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega. The Reagan
administration expended considerable effort, including training and arming a cadre of anti-communist
rebels, the so-called Contras, in an unsuccessful effort to oust
the Sandinistas. Ultimately, Ortega agreed to hold free elections
in 1990, and when opposition factions won, to the surprise of most
U.S. officials, he relinquished power peacefully. Ortega returned
to office following elections in 2007.

While most of the
attention is on Venezuela, another crisis is brewing under Daniel
Ortega’s authoritarian regime

During his second stint in office, the government adopted
increasingly authoritarian measures, and by 2018, opposition
demonstrations were large and vocal. Protests surged in April 2018,
and by early August, even the Ortega government reluctantly
acknowledged that 195 people had died in the mounting violence. The
Organization of American States (OAS) put the figure at 317, and a leading NGO, the
Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Association, documented 448 killings. It also contended that
government security forces and allied, armed civilian groups were
responsible for most of those deaths.

The government did not take kindly to such criticism. Shortly
after issuing its most recent report, the Nicaraguan Pro-Human
Rights Association announced that it was closing its offices
because of “threats and harassment” against staff
members. Ortega defended the violent actions that police and
pro-regime paramilitary units had taken. He exhibited no
receptivity whatsoever to opposition calls for a referendum on
holding early national elections in place of
the balloting scheduled for late 2020. Given that the last
elections in 2016 were afflicted with widespread fraud, critics of
the regime see little benefit in being patient.

Washington moved to adopt punitive sanctions in response to the
regime’s crackdown on last summer’s demonstrations. In
November, the Trump administration imposed travel restrictions and
targeted the …read more

Source: OP-EDS