The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob Discussion I

Wayne,

Greg Tomlinson and I have been discussing in comments a blog post from last April:

Global warming XIII – The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob . I think that his comments and my replies will be informative to our readers, who aren’t likely to notice items from six months ago. Therefore, I’m going to create new blog posts each of which contains a comment and a reply with titles The Carbon Dioxide Control Knob I, II, III, and so on.

Here’s the first:

September 28, 2017 at 5:53 am Edit

You give no arguments as to what makes CO2 a primary “control knob” for the earth’s temperature, except for saying that this is what “knowledgeable people” believe. Well, the knowledgeable people I know realize this “climate change” fraud for what it is worth.

Greg Tomlinson

September 28, 2017 at 3:50 pm Edit

Mr. Tomlinson,
I’m afraid that the “knowledgeable people” you know have misinformed you.
Here’s how climate scientists and other researchers know that carbon dioxide is a key “control knob” for the Earth’s temperature. They have known this since Svante Arrhenius published research on the greenhouse effect in the 1890s.  Svante_Arrhenius and the Greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is not a new phenomenon caused by human fossil fuel use. It is a natural effect, and is the reason why the Earth’s average surface temperature is about 60 F instead of 20 F, which is what it would be if there were no water vapor or carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The basic idea is this: The flow of energy into the Earth must balance for the temperature to be stable. The flow in comes from the Sun. The flow out comes from the Earth and appears in the far infrared. The atmosphere is transparent to most of the Sun’s radiation, which is in the visible and near infrared. But the atmosphere absorbs and re-emits substantial parts of the Earth’s upward flowing far infrared radiation. Water vapor and carbon dioxide absorb upward moving far infrared radiation and re-emit it in all directions. This reduces the amount flowing to space. Therefore, the Earth’s temperature must increase to increase the amount of upward flowing radiation leaving its surface until the flow outward equals the flow inward from the Sun. To increase its radiation, the Earth’s surface temperature must increase. That is, the globe must warm.
Natural fluctuations in the amounts of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere produce fluctuations in the Earth’s surface temperature, as when there have been massive volcanic eruptions.
Thus actual knowledgeable people, and not your “knowledgeable people” know from fundamental principles, the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, and the detailed properties of water and carbon dioxide, that carbon dioxide is a key “control knob.”

Bernard

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Trump, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, and a WSJ editorial

Wayne,

You called my attention to a Wall Street Journal editorial that considered Trump’s speech on Friday about the Iranian nuclear deal, and his decision, both foolish, incoherent, and delusional, to not certify that Iran was complying with that deal. Of course, the WSJ editorial writers didn’t characterize Trump’s speech as I do. Readers can find the text of the editorial below with my comments interspersed in italics.

You wrote:

What’s this about “European leaders who like the deal”? More than like, several signed it along with the US. Reading this editorial, you’d never guess that “the deal” is a joint US-Europe measure, not just the US by itself. The editorial seems to say, it’s all about the US and only the US. Yeah, some Europeans have emotional connections, but so what. And the US can and will by itself slap sanctions on Iran if Congress decides it’s in our interest, and screw the rest of the signatories.

I have some comments too. I teach my U of Tampa students about the Iranian nuclear deal in a couple of my Science in the News segments during our consideration of radioactivity and nuclear physics, and of reactors and bombs.

The deal is under the aegis of the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN group) and is part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty from the 1960s. The final deal itself is embodied in a UN Security Council Resolution. Separately and as a part of US internal considerations, Congress passed a law, and Obama signed it, that requires the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is complying with the deal. If he does not, then the act has expedited procedures for Congress to re-impose the sanctions US part of the international sanctions that brought Iran to negotiate the deal. No filibuster, for example.

Trump has loudly proclaimed that this deal, a brilliant feat of diplomacy but not solely the work of the United States, is the worst deal ever, and he promised to withdraw the US from the deal on his first day in office.

There is no way to un-vote a vote cast in the UN Security Council. In that sense, there is no way to withdraw the US from the deal. Unless, that is, the United States just decides to refuse its obligations under the deal. That is, if the US violates the deal, then Iran could, with justification, also stop adhering to the deal. Unfortunately for this method, Iran’s obligations are from the beginning and continue, but the major powers who negotiated the deal have already carried out their side of the deal by removing the sanctions imposed relative to the deal itself. What I call a brilliant feat of diplomacy is that the US and its European partners, and the IAEA, managed to persuade the Russians and the Chinese to participate in the sanctions. They have a long-standing dislike of international sanctions because they believe that the world should mind its own business about their domestic affairs.

What Trump has done is to state that he cannot certify that Iran is complying with the deal. This is a problem because the IAEA has carried out many inspections, and those experts assert that Iran is complying. Our European allies believe this too, and the Russians and the Chinese. Indeed, every informed and non-delusional person in the world believes this. I don’t want to say, in this case, that Trump is lying, but that he is delusional and is speaking without regard to the truth or falsity of what he says. He has not, however, carried out, belatedly, his campaign promise. All he has done is begin a 60-day period during which Congress can re-impose sanctions if it wishes. He hasn’t done a thing about the deal itself, which is what he, ignorantly promised to smash on day 1 of his presidency.

I’d like to add that the IAEA inspectors were the very same group who repeatedly and correctly certified that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program and continued to do so until the Bush administration drove them out of Iraq before they invaded Iraq. The Bushies spent a lot of energy insulting these international professionals.

I’ve also put some comments into the WSJ editorial.

Bernard

Trump’s Iran Strategy

A nuclear fudge in the service of a larger containment policy.

 

By The Editorial Board

The Wall Street Journal

Oct. 13, 2017 6:48 p.m. ET

 

Donald Trump announced Friday that he won’t “certify” his predecessor’s nuclear deal with Iran, but he won’t walk away from it either. This is something of a political fudge to satisfy a campaign promise, but it is also part of a larger and welcome strategic shift from Barack Obama’s illusions about arms control and the Islamic Republic.

 

The WSJ cannot find a single thing that Obama ever did of which they can approve. President Obama did not have illusions about Iran, which the WSJ editor refers to as “Islamic” to connote untrustworthiness.

 

Mr. Trump chose not to withdraw from the nuclear deal despite his ferocious criticism during the campaign and again on Friday. The deal itself is a piece of paper that Mr. Obama signed at the United Nations but never submitted to Congress as a treaty. The certification is an obligation of American law, the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, that requires a President to report every 90 days whether Iran is complying with the deal. Mr. Trump said Iran isn’t “living up to the spirit of the deal” and he listed “multiple violations.”

 

Obama signed the deal, and the United States voted for the Security Council resolution. Notice that the WSJ refers to it as an insignificant “piece of paper.” Obama didn’t submit it as a treaty because it is not a treaty. (It probably wouldn’t have gotten the 2/3rds vote in a Republican-controlled Senate anyway.)

 

The President can thus say he’s honoring his campaign opposition to the pact, without taking responsibility for blowing it up. This partial punt is a bow to the Europeans and some of his own advisers who fear the consequences if the U.S. withdraws. The worry is that Iran could use that as an excuse to walk away itself, and sprint to build a bomb, while the U.S. would be unable to reimpose the global sanctions that drove Iran to negotiate.

 

But Trump promised to blow up this deal. He didn’t promise to oppose it. “The Europeans” are the British, the French, the Germans, also the Russians. “[S]ome of his own advisers” include Defense Secretary and retired Lt. Gen. Mattis, Secretary of State Tillerson, National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. McMaster, and all other high-level administration officials with knowledge and formal responsibility in international affairs and national security. The men I cited have stated in public and open testimony that remaining in this deal is in the national interest of the United States. Now, Iran’s Supreme Leader has stated that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic (because they must kill many innocents), and has said that, therefore, Iran will not develop nuclear weapons. If you do not believe this, and a reasonable person may well doubt it, what the WSJ calls a “worry” to minimize it, is just what Iran would do, and be free from sanctions, and our European partners, the Russians, and the Chinese would certainly refuse to reimpose their own sanctions.

 

This is unlikely because the deal is so advantageous for Iran. The ruling mullahs need the foreign investment the deal allows, and there are enough holes to let Iran do research and break out once the deal begins phasing out in 2025. Iran will huff and puff about Mr. Trump’s decertification, but it wants the deal intact.

 

The deal is a win-win, advantageous for both sides. The Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty allows non-nuclear weapon states to conduct peaceful nuclear research, and the nuclear weapons states are committed to helping them if they wish to do this research. This treaty has been in force for 50 years and has proven effective if not perfect.

 

Yet we can understand why Mr. Trump wants to avoid an immediate break with European leaders who like the deal. This gives the U.S. time to persuade Europe of ways to strengthen the accord. French President Emmanuel Macron has talked publicly about dealing with Iran’s ballistic missile threat, and a joint statement by British, German and French leaders Friday left room to address Iranian aggression.

 

The United Nations already has sanctions against Iran that deal with its missile program, and the nuclear deal has nothing to do with them. Dealing with Iran’s missiles or its “aggression” doesn’t require smashing the nuclear deal. Indeed, smashing the nuclear deal will make arriving at other deals harder.

 

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is asking Congress to rewrite the Nuclear Review Act to set new “red lines” on Iranian behavior. The Administration has been working for months with GOP Senators Bob Corker (Tenn.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.) on legislation they’ll unveil as early as next week. This will include markers such as limits on ballistic missiles and centrifuges and ending the deal’s sunset provisions. If Iran crosses those lines, the pre-deal sanctions would snap back on.

 

Senator Corker is the guy who says that the White House is like an adult day care center, and who Trump responded to with a flurry of Twitter insults. One way that Corker came to his conclusions must be from his discussions with the White House about this deal. Senator Cotton (as far as I know) is a smart guy with extremist twisted ideas about international relations. He’s been an opponent of this deal. Indeed, he was behind the letter from Senate Republicans to the leader of Iran during the negotiations. This letter purported to instruct that leader about American Constitutional rules and urged him not to trust the word of the American president. In other words, Cotton and his Republican colleagues, a few of whom should have known better, tried to undermine their own president’s Constitutional responsibility to determine and carry out foreign policy in the interests of the United States. How do you think White House negotiations with Sen. Corker, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will go?

 

There’s no guarantee this can get 60 Senate votes. But making Iran’s behavior the trigger for snap-back sanctions is what Mr. Obama also said he favored while he was selling the deal in 2015. The difference is that once he signed the deal his Administration had no incentive to enforce it lest he concede a mistake. The Senate legislation would make snap-back sanctions a more realistic discipline. Senators may also want to act to deter Mr. Trump from totally withdrawing sometime in the future—as he threatened Friday if Congress fails.

 

Not only is there no guarantee that any legislation proposed by the Trump Administration will get 60 Senate votes, I’d hazard a guess that this proposal will not emerge from Corker’s Foreign Relations Committee.

 

The most promising part of Mr. Trump’s strategy is its vow to deter Iranian imperialism in the Middle East. The President laid out a long history of Iran’s depredations—such as backing for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and rebels in Yemen, cyber attacks on the U.S., hostility to Israel, and support for terrorism. Notably, Mr. Trump singled out the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the regime’s military vanguard, for new U.S. financial sanctions.

 

The Russians are backing Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The Iranians support him too, both directly with aid and indirectly through Hezbollah. In Yemen, the Saudis are creating a humanitarian disaster by wildly bombing Yemeni civilians with American weapons. There is, for example, a massive cholera epidemic there as public works have been bombed. The Russians are the ones who carried out important cyber-attacks on the US, and everyone thinks that Israel and the US infiltrated Iran’s uranium enrichment facility with malware that destroyed or damaged the centrifuges. This malware became known to the world when it escaped from captivity and infected similar control computers around the world. Indeed, Iran is surrounded by US troops and bases. We have soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan and major facilities in Persian Gulf states. The US labeled Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “Axis of Evil,” and promptly invaded and overthrew the Iraqi regime. The Iranian government and the North Korean government noticed this. In Iraq, the Iranians, including the Revolutionary Guard, are fighting on our side in support of the Iraqi government (but we won’t talk with them). Why do you suppose that the North Koreans restarted their nuclear weapons program during the Bush administration?

 

This is a welcome change from President Obama, who was so preoccupied with getting his nuclear deal that he ignored Iran’s efforts to expand the Shiite Islamic revolution. Mr. Trump is putting the nuclear issue in the proper strategic context as merely one part of the larger Iranian attempt to dominate the region. This will go down well with Israel and the Sunni Arab states that were horrified by Mr. Obama’s tilt toward Tehran.

 

The Iranian nuclear deal is not President Obama’s deal, although he and his diplomacy had a lot to do with it. He did not ignore Iran’s efforts to support its friends in other nations. Trump is not putting the nuclear issue in proper strategic context, and apparently the Journal believes that the US should take sides in the Sunni-Shia dispute within Islam. Israel, for its own purposes, wants to bomb Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been warning for more than 20 years that Iran would have a nuclear bomb in 2 years, and I could readily find his many statements on this issue. The Iranians don’t go around talking about bombing Israel, although they don’t like the Israelis and wish them misfortune. But the Israelis have often discussed bombing Iran, in public. This stupid talk (I don’t know why such smart people would behave this way except to guess that it has to do with Israeli politics.) led the Iranians to bury their nuclear enrichment facilities where only the United States would have the proper bombs to destroy them. This led the Israelis to begin calling upon the Americans to bomb the Iranians. What the WSJ, and the Israelis, call “Mr. Obama’s tilt toward Tehran” is his considered and sensible view that it is not in the interest of the United States to go to war with Iran. That is, while US national interests overlap Israel’s they are not identical.

 

One question is how this squares with Mr. Trump’s cease-fire deal with Russia in southern Syria. Russia is allied with Iran in Syria, and the cease-fire is serving as protection for Revolutionary Guard attempts to control the border region with Israel, which has had to bomb the area repeatedly. Mr. Trump still hasn’t figured out a strategy for Syria or Russia, and that could undermine his effort to contain Iran.

 

Yep. Trump is incompetent, and he has no coherent view of American interests. The North Koreans are watching carefully what Trump does with respect to Iran, as they noted what happened to Kaddafi after he gave up his nuclear program, and what happened to Saddam Hussein who had abandoned his.

 

Barack Obama left his successor a world in turmoil, with authoritarians on the march in China, North Korea, Russia and Iran. Mr. Trump needs a strategy for each, and the steps he took Friday are crucial in containing Iran.

 

Authoritarians are not on the march in North Korea and China. They are staying put. But they are in Russia, which Trump says we should be friends with. He can’t figure out why the US has been in conflict with them. The nuclear deal is a key step to containing Iran, and Trump’s confused and confusing actions Friday set back the efforts to contain it.

 

Bernard

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“Sons of bitches” or “very fine people” I report. You decide.

In a speech in Alabama, Donald Trump said of these dignified, kneeling men:

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, “Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!”

Trump and his spokespeople later asserted that comparing black men and their mothers to animals had nothing to do with racism. It was only criticizing anyone who disrespects the American flag.

Here are a couple of photos of marchers at the recent Charlottesville fracas:

 

Donald Trump had some things to say about the people in these photographs, and here I’m citing ABCNews for his widely reported remarks:

Asked about his immediate response Saturday, Trump quickly blamed both sides for the conflict, adding that there were “very fine people” among both the protesters — which included white supremacists and white nationalists — and the counterprotesters.

“I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said today.

“You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he added.

Those people, and I don’t want to refer to men in white robes, conical hats, and red belts as dignified, were waving the battle flag of the Confederate Army.

The actual battle flag was square, like this:


The one those demonstrators are waving was the Confederate Navy’s flag, widely displayed by today’s neo-Confederates:


Be that as it may, they are waving flags of a massive armed insurrection against the people and government of the United States.

Donald Trump says that among those waving these treasonous flags are “very fine people.” He didn’t see any “sons of bitches” among them. He didn’t see anyone disrespecting the flag of the United States.

I wonder why Donald Trump is not outraged that these people are dishonoring the United States flag, as did their ancestors of 150 years ago.

Here’s what someone who is not a racist has to say about racism in the United States:

AMERICA


‘You Should Be Outraged,’ Air Force Academy Head Tells Cadets About Racism On Campus

September 29, 20179:18 AM ET

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President Trump at the UN, September 19, 2017 – Annotated

President Trump’s statement to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017, as prepared for delivery.

Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates: Welcome to New York. It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country , I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid. The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

The devastating hurricanes struck several small countries in the Caribbean but Trump does not even mention those countries. Did the US offer them special aid?

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th . The stock market is at an all-time high — a record. Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before. Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time. And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense.

Fortunately for the US but not necessarily for people in the rest of the world, and why should the rest of the world care?

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been. For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly. Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed.

Our military has been by far the largest in the world for decades. This comes across as an implicit threat: “and we will not hesitate to use it against anyone who crosses us”.

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity. Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve.

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value. Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet. Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity.

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril. It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future. It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe. Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

Three beautiful pillars? I count four.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free. As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations. The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.

The success of the UN depends on ALL its members, not just European ones.

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past. Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government. But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties: to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation. This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

The UN vision and charter are about relationships AMONG countries, not about what happens inside countries other than for fundamental human rights, and most definitely not about commercial or power interests. Trump explicitly places self-interest before global interest and then claims implicitly in the last sentence that this prioritization is the UN’s “beautiful vision”. It is absolutely NOT. The word “strong” does not occur anywhere in the UN charter.

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Tampa’s Confederate Monument is Gone!

Wayne,

On my way to class at the University of Tampa I stopped by the old County Courthouse to check on the Confederate Soldiers Monument.

Here is what I saw:

This is what it used to look like.

The soldier facing to the left marches briskly north to battle, rifle on his shoulder. The soldier facing south, head bandaged, hat in hand rifle dragging at his side, returns defeated and bowed, spirit still proud.

Steve Contorino, the Tampa Bay Times reporter who covered this story’s ups and downs, found reports of the speeches when Hillsborough County accepted this monument from the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1911. “The keynote speaker, state attorney Herbert S. Phillips, had this to say ‘The South stands ready to welcome all good citizens who seek to make their homes within her borders. But the South detests and despises all, it matters not from whence they came, who, in any manner, encourages social equality with an ignorant and inferior race.'”

Before the Civil War and during its early years, white Southern firebrands were not ashamed to proclaim their cause: Slavery. In Phillips’ statement you can see that by 1911, 45 years after the war, white Southerners knew they had lost the war, but believed they had won the struggle for white supremacy and the suppression of blacks. They were not ashamed of what they believed was a cause that was right and just. They publicly proclaimed the meaning of this and the other monuments.

I played a small part, which I’ve described in earlier blog posts, beginning with my op-ed essay in the Tampa Tribune a year ago calling for this statue to be moved from public property, and including testifying twice before the County Commissioners.

At the first meeting, in June, to consider the matter, the commissioners voted against moving the statue. The next month, the commissioners reversed themselves and voted to move the statue to a private cemetery in Brandon, a town in Hillsborough County. The next month, in August, the commissioners, some of whom evidently really hated the thought of moving this monument to rebellion and the defense of slavery, voted that the monument would only move if proponents of the move could raise $140,000 in the next 24 hours.

To their surprise and chagrin, I surmise, the dedicated GoFundMe page quickly collected the money. Tony Dungee, the beloved former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, contributed $5000 and challenged the local professional teams to contribute. They did. They contributed tens of thousands of dollars through the Chamber of Commerce. The mayor of Tampa contributed $1000.

The week of Labor Day work began after a last-ditch suit to stop removing the statue was dismissed. Of course, work stopped as hurricane Irma approached. As you can see it was mostly completed, only the base remains.

I think this is remarkable. I’m new to Tampa, but I knew about these monuments all over the South. I’m impressed that, Americans, white and black, forward-thinking, favoring equality and justice for all citizens and residents have been able to dismantle these symbols of racism that proclaim an irreconcilable belief in white supremacy.

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Did Black Men Serve in Confederate Armies Part III

Wayne,

A commenter to a post about the Gamble Plantation asserted that many blacks freely served in Confederate armies. This falsehood is widely believed among the “heritage not hate” Confederate monument and flag supporters, neo-Confederates, and some southern educated white Southerners. Some of those who spoke at the recent Hillsborough County Council meetings in favor of preserving the County’s Confederate Soldiers Monument on the Courthouse grounds told this canard to the Commissioners.

I’ve written about this subject in two previous posts, Part I and Part II. In Part II, I described the Cleburne Memorial of January 1864. This proposal, to enlist black men in return for their freedom, by Major General Patrick R. Cleburne, one of the South’s best division commanders, was so scandalous that Jefferson Davis ordered it kept secret, and the Confederate War Department ordered all copies destroyed. A single surviving copy was found decades later in some regimental papers. If the Confederates had been enlisting black men as soldiers Cleburne’s proposal would have been unnecessary. If the enlistment of black men were merely undesired, as it was at the beginning of the war in the North, then the strict secrecy and destruction of all evidence of the proposal would have been unnecessary too. The Confederate government and Confederate armies did not enlist black men.

How did white Southerners, Confederate officials, officers and soldiers view armed black men, such as the soldiers in the United States Colored Troops regiments? They were horrified at the thought. They did not consider them legitimate soldiers worthy of respect due honorable enemies according to the laws of war of that time.

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Did Black Soldiers Serve in the Confederate Army? Part II

Wayne,

A commenter responding to one of my essays about the Gamble House asserted that many black soldiers served in the Confederate Army. I cited his remarks in my earlier post of the same title as this one. There I also linked to an essay by a professional historian who wrote about the matter in the New York Times, and to an essay that described the origins of this wildly false claim. Many among the supporters of Confederate monuments, Confederate flags, and many people educated in the South believe this claim.

In my first essay, I included and discussed a photograph of an armed Confederate white officer and an armed black man in Confederate uniform. These pictures of black men in Confederate uniform, of which there are a few, show black slaves brought by their commissioned masters to the army as personal servants. They do not show black Confederate soldiers.

I’m not a professional historian, but I’ve read a lot as an amateur. I have some things to say about this subject beyond my first post.

The Confederate government did not enlist black men, either slaves or freemen, into the Confederate army until a few weeks before the end of the war and only a few dozen at that. Indeed, Southern white people widely feared the possibility of a slave revolt, and most states banned arming slaves.

Consider the remarkable Cleburne memorial, as it is known. In this context, memorial is an old word for what we today might call a memorandum or a white paper. Confederate General Patrick R. Cleburne was an Irish immigrant to Arkansas. He was not a slave owner. When Arkansas seceded from the Union, he allied himself with his new compatriots and enlisted in the Confederate armed forces as a private. He had had military experience in Ireland, and he advanced rapidly through the ranks. By January 1864, he was among the Confederacy’s most respected and capable division commanders. Union bullets struck him down among his men in the battle of Franklin in Tennessee, a calamitous Confederate defeat.

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