US War Crimes or ‘Normalized Deviance’

The U.S. foreign policy establishment and its mainstream media operate with a pervasive set of hypocritical standards that justify war crimes — or what might be called a “normalization of deviance,” writes Nicolas J S Davies.

By Nicolas J S Davies

Sociologist Diane Vaughan coined the term “normalization of deviance as she was investigating the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. She used it to describe how the social culture at NASA fostered a disregard for rigorous, physics-based safety standards, effectively creating new, lower de facto standards that came to govern actual NASA operations and led to catastrophic and deadly failures.

Vaughan published her findings in her prize-winning book, The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture and Deviance at NASA, which, in her words, “shows how mistake, mishap, and disaster are socially organized and systematically produced by social structures” and “shifts our attention from individual causal explanations to the structure of power and the power of structure and culture – factors that are difficult to identify and untangle yet have great impact on decision making in organizations.”

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

President George W. Bush announcing the start of his invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003.

When the same pattern of organizational culture and behavior at NASA persisted until the loss of a second shuttle in 2003, Diane Vaughan was appointed to NASA’s accident investigation board, which belatedly embraced her conclusion that the “normalization of deviance” was a critical factor in these catastrophic failures.

The normalization of deviance has since been cited in a wide range of corporate crimes and institutional failures, from Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests to deadly medical mistakes in hospitals.  In fact, the normalization of deviance is an ever-present danger in most of the complex institutions that govern the world we live in today, not least in the bureaucracy that formulates and conducts U.S. foreign policy.

The normalization of deviance from the rules and standards that formally govern U.S. foreign policy has been quite radical.  And yet, as in other cases, this has gradually been accepted as a normal state of affairs, first within the corridors of power, then by the corporate media and eventually by much of the public at large.

Once deviance has been culturally normalized, as Vaughan found in the shuttle program at NASA, there is no longer any effective check on actions that deviate radically from formal or established standards – in the case of U.S. foreign policy, that would refer to the rules and customs of international law, the checks and balances of our constitutional political system and the experience and evolving practice of generations of statesmen and diplomats.

Normalizing the Abnormal

It is in the nature of complex institutions infected by the normalization of deviance that insiders are incentivized to downplay potential problems and to avoid precipitating a reassessment based on previously established standards.  Once rules have been breached, decision-makers face a cognitive and ethical conundrum whenever the same issue arises again: they can no longer admit that an action will violate responsible standards without admitting that they have already violated them in the past.

This is not just a matter of avoiding public embarrassment and political or criminal accountability, but a real instance of collective cognitive dissonance among people who have genuinely, although often self-servingly, embraced a deviant culture.  Diane Vaughan has compared the normalization of deviance to an elastic waistband that keeps on stretching.

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as "shock and awe."

At the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the U.S. military to conduct a devastating aerial assault on Baghdad, known as “shock and awe.”

Within the high priesthood that now manages U.S. foreign policy, advancement and success are based on conformity with this elastic culture of normalized deviance.  Whistle-blowers are punished or even prosecuted, and people who question the prevailing deviant culture are routinely and efficiently marginalized, not promoted to decision-making positions.

For example, once U.S. officials had accepted the Orwellian “doublethink” that “targeted killings,” or “manhunts” as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called them, do not violate long-standing prohibitions against assassination, even a new administration could not walk that decision back without forcing a deviant culture to confront the wrong-headedness and illegality of its original decision.

Then, once the Obama administration had massively escalated the CIA’s drone program as an alternative to kidnapping and indefinite detention at Guantanamo, it became even harder to acknowledge that this is a policy of cold-blooded murder that provokes widespread anger and hostility and is counter-productive to legitimate counterterrorism goals – or to admit that it violates the U.N. Charter’s prohibition on the use of force, as U.N. special rapporteurs on extrajudicial killings have warned.

Underlying such decisions is the role of U.S. government lawyers who provide legal cover for them, but who are themselves shielded from accountability by U.S. non-recognition of international courts and the extraordinary deference of U.S. courts to the Executive Branch on matters of “national security.” These lawyers enjoy a privilege that is unique in their profession, issuing legal opinions that they will never have to defend before impartial courts to provide legal fig-leaves for war crimes.

The deviant U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy has branded the formal rules that are supposed to govern our country’s international behavior as “obsolete” and “quaint”, as a White House lawyer wrote in 2004.  And yet these are the very rules that past U.S. leaders deemed so vital that they enshrined them in constitutionally binding international treaties and U.S. law.

Let’s take a brief look at how the normalization of deviance undermines two of the most critical standards that formally define and legitimize U.S. foreign policy: the U.N. Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

The United Nations Charter

In 1945, after two world wars killed 100 million people and left much of the world in ruins, the world’s governments were shocked into a moment of sanity in which they agreed to settle future international disputes peacefully.  The U.N. Charter therefore prohibits the threat or use of force in international relations.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a press conference.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a press conference.

As President Franklin Roosevelt told a joint session of Congress on his return from the Yalta conference, this new “permanent structure of peace … should spell the end of the system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the spheres of influence, the balance of power, and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries – and have always failed.”

The U.N. Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of force codifies the long-standing prohibition of aggression in English common law and customary international law, and reinforces the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy in the 1928 Kellogg Briand Pact. The judges at Nuremberg ruled that, even before the U.N. Charter came into effect, aggression was already the “supreme international crime.”

No U.S. leader has proposed abolishing or amending the U.N. Charter to permit aggression by the U.S. or any other country.  And yet the U.S. is currently conducting ground operations, air strikes or drone strikes in at least seven countries: Afghanistan; Pakistan; Iraq; Syria; Yemen; Somalia; and Libya. U.S. “special operations forces” conduct secret operations in a hundred more. U.S. leaders still openly threaten Iran, despite a diplomatic breakthrough that was supposed to peacefully settle bilateral differences.

President-in-waiting Hillary Clinton still believes in backing U.S. demands on other countries with illegal threats of force, even though every threat she has backed in the past has only served to create a pretext for war, from Yugoslavia to Iraq to Libya. But the U.N. Charter prohibits the threat as well as the use of force precisely because the one so regularly leads to the other.

The only justifications for the use of force permitted under the U.N. Charter are proportionate and necessary self-defense or an emergency request by the U.N. Security Council for military action “to restore peace and security.”  But no other country has attacked the United States, nor has the Security Council asked the U.S. to bomb or invade any of the countries where we are now at war.

The wars we have launched since 2001 have killed about 2 million people, of whom nearly all were completely innocent of involvement in the crimes of 9/11. Instead of “restoring peace and security,” U.S. wars have only plunged country after country into unending violence and chaos.

Like the specifications ignored by the engineers at NASA, the U.N. Charter is still in force, in black and white, for anyone in the world to read. But the normalization of deviance has replaced its nominally binding rules with looser, vaguer ones that the world’s governments and people have neither debated, negotiated nor agreed to.

In this case, the formal rules being ignored are the ones that were designed to provide a viable framework for the survival of human civilization in the face of the existential threat of modern weapons and warfare – surely the last rules on Earth that should have been quietly swept under a rug in the State Department basement.

The Geneva Conventions

Courts martial and investigations by officials and human rights groups have exposed “rules of engagement” issued to U.S. forces that flagrantly violate the Geneva Conventions and the protections they provide to wounded combatants, prisoners of war and civilians in war-torn countries:

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

Some of the original detainees jailed at the Guantanamo Bay prison, as put on display by the U.S. military.

–The Command’s Responsibility report by Human Rights First examined 98 deaths in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. It revealed a deviant culture in which senior officials abused their authority to block investigations and guarantee their own impunity for murders and torture deaths that U.S. law defines as capital crimes.

Although torture was authorized from the very top of the chain of command, the most senior officer charged with a crime was a Major and the harshest sentence handed down was a five-month prison sentence.

–U.S. rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan have included: systematic, theater-wide use of torture; orders to “dead-check” or kill wounded enemy combatants; orders to “kill all military-age males” during certain operations; and “weapons-free” zones that mirror Vietnam-era “free-fire” zones.

A U.S. Marine corporal told a court martial that “Marines consider all Iraqi men part of the insurgency”, nullifying the critical distinction between combatants and civilians that is the very basis of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

When junior officers or enlisted troops have been charged with war crimes, they have been exonerated or given light sentences because courts have found that they were acting on orders from more senior officers. But the senior officers implicated in these crimes have been allowed to testify in secret or not to appear in court at all, and no senior officer has been convicted of a war crime.

–For the past year, U.S. forces bombing Iraq and Syria have operated under loosened rules of engagement that allow the in-theater commander General McFarland to approve bomb- and missile-strikes that are expected to kill up to 10 civilians each.

But Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network has documented that U.S. rules of engagement already permit routine targeting of civilians based only on cell-phone records or “guilt by proximity” to other people targeted for assassination. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has determined that only 4 percent of thousands of drone victims in Pakistan have been positively identified as Al Qaeda members, the nominal targets of the CIA’s drone campaign.

–Amnesty International’s 2014 report Left In The Dark documented a complete lack of accountability for the killing of civilians by U.S. forces in Afghanistan since President Obama’s escalation of the war in 2009 unleashed thousands more air strikes and special forces night raids.

Nobody was charged over the Ghazi Khan raid in Kunar province on Dec. 26, 2009, in which U.S. special forces summarily executed at least seven children, including four who were only 11 or 12 years old.

More recently, U.S. forces attacked a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, killing 42 doctors, staff and patients, but this flagrant violation of Article 18 of the Fourth Geneva Convention did not lead to criminal charges either.

Although the U.S. government would not dare to formally renounce the Geneva Conventions, the normalization of deviance has effectively replaced them with elastic standards of behavior and accountability whose main purpose is to shield senior U.S. military officers and civilian officials from accountability for war crimes.

The Cold War and Its Aftermath

The normalization of deviance in U.S. foreign policy is a byproduct of the disproportionate economic, diplomatic and military power of the United States since 1945. No other country could have got away with such flagrant and systematic violations of international law.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, at his headquarters in the European theather of operations.  He wears the five-star cluster of the newly-created rank of General of the Army.  Feb. 1, 1945.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander, at his headquarters in the European theater of operations. He wears the five-star cluster of the newly-created rank of General of the Army. Feb. 1, 1945.

But in the early days of the Cold War, America’s World War II leaders rejected calls to exploit their new-found power and temporary monopoly on nuclear weapons to unleash an aggressive war against the U.S.S.R.

General Dwight Eisenhower gave a speech in St. Louis in 1947 in which he warned, “Those who measure security solely in terms of offensive capacity distort its meaning and mislead those who pay them heed. No modern nation has ever equaled the crushing offensive power attained by the German war machine in 1939. No modern nation was broken and smashed as was Germany six years later.”

But, as Eisenhower later warned, the Cold War soon gave rise to a “military-industrial complex” that may be the case par excellence of a highly complex tangle of institutions whose social culture is supremely prone to the normalization of deviance. Privately, Eisenhower lamented, “God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.”

That describes everyone who has sat in that chair and tried to manage the U.S. military-industrial complex since 1961, involving critical decisions on war and peace and an ever-growing military budget. Advising the President on these matters are the Vice President, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, several generals and admirals and the chairs of powerful Congressional committees. Nearly all these officials’ careers represent some version of the “revolving door” between the military and “intelligence” bureaucracy, the executive and legislative branches of government, and top jobs with military contractors and lobbying firms.

Each of the close advisers who have the President’s ear on these most critical issues is in turn advised by others who are just as deeply embedded in the military-industrial complex, from think-tanks funded by weapons manufacturers to Members of Congress with military bases or missile plants in their districts to journalists and commentators who market fear, war and militarism to the public.

With the rise of sanctions and financial warfare as a tool of U.S. power, Wall Street and the Treasury and Commerce Departments are also increasingly entangled in this web of military-industrial interests.

The incentives driving the creeping, gradual normalization of deviance throughout the ever-growing U.S. military-industrial complex have been powerful and mutually reinforcing for over 70 years, exactly as Eisenhower warned.

Richard Barnet explored the deviant culture of Vietnam-era U.S. war leaders in his 1972 book Roots Of War. But there are particular reasons why the normalization of deviance in U.S. foreign policy has become even more dangerous since the end of the Cold War.

In the aftermath of World War II, the U.S. and U.K. installed allied governments in Western and Southern Europe, restored Western colonies in Asia and militarily occupied South Korea. The divisions of Korea and Vietnam into north and south were justified as temporary, but the governments in the south were U.S. creations imposed to prevent reunification under governments allied with the U.S.S.R. or China. U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam were then justified, legally and politically, as military assistance to allied governments fighting wars of self-defense.

The U.S. role in anti-democratic coups in Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Brazil, Indonesia, Ghana, Chile and other countries was veiled behind thick layers of secrecy and propaganda. A veneer of legitimacy was still considered vital to U.S. policy, even as a culture of deviance was being normalized and institutionalized beneath the surface.

The Reagan Years

It was not until the 1980s that the U.S. ran seriously afoul of the post-1945 international legal framework it had helped to build. When the U.S. set out to destroy the revolutionary Sandinista government of Nicaragua by mining its harbors and dispatching a mercenary army to terrorize its people, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) convicted the U.S. of aggression and ordered it to pay war reparations.

President Reagan meets with Vice President George H.W. Bush on Feb. 9, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Presidential Library.)

President Reagan meets with Vice President George H.W. Bush on Feb. 9, 1981. (Photo credit: Reagan Presidential Library.)

The U.S. response revealed how far the normalization of deviance had already taken hold of its foreign policy. Instead of accepting and complying with the court’s ruling, the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the binding jurisdiction of the ICJ.

When Nicaragua asked the U.N. Security Council to enforce the payment of reparations ordered by the court, the U.S. abused its position as a Permanent Member of the Security Council to veto the resolution. Since the 1980s, the U.S. has vetoed twice as many Security Council resolutions as the other Permanent Members combined, and the U.N. General Assembly passed resolutions condemning the U.S. invasions of Grenada (by 108 to 9) and Panama (by 75 to 20), calling the latter “a flagrant violation of international law.”

President George H.W. Bush and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher obtained U.N. authorization for the First Gulf War and resisted calls to launch a war of regime change against Iraq in violation of their U.N. mandate. Their forces massacred Iraqi forces fleeing Kuwait, and a U.N. report described how the “near apocalyptic” U.S.-led bombardment of Iraq reduced what “had been until January a rather highly urbanized and mechanized society” to “a pre-industrial age nation.”

But new voices began to ask why the U.S. should not exploit its unchallenged post-Cold War military superiority to use force with even less restraint. During the Bush-Clinton transition, Madeleine Albright confronted General Colin Powell over his “Powell doctrine” of limited war, protesting, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

Public hopes for a “peace dividend” were ultimately trumped by a “power dividend” sought by military-industrial interests. The neoconservatives of the Project for the New American Century led the push for war on Iraq, while “humanitarian interventionists” now use the “soft power” of propaganda to selectively identify and demonize targets for U.S.-led regime change and then justify war under the “responsibility to protect” or other pretexts. U.S. allies (NATO, Israel, the Arab monarchies et al) are exempt from such campaigns, safe within what Amnesty International has labeled an “accountability-free zone.”

Madeleine Albright and her colleagues branded Slobodan Milosevic a “new Hitler” for trying to hold Yugoslavia together, even as they ratcheted up their own genocidal sanctions against Iraq. Ten years after Milosevic died in prison at the Hague, he was posthumously exonerated by an international court.

In 1999, when U.K. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told Secretary of State Albright the British government was having trouble “with its lawyers” over NATO plans to attack Yugoslavia without U.N. authorization, Albright told him he should “get new lawyers.”

By the time mass murder struck New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the normalization of deviance was so firmly rooted in the corridors of power that voices of peace and reason were utterly marginalized.

Former Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz told NPR eight days later, “It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done. …  We must make a distinction between punishing the guilty and punishing others.  If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t approve of what has happened.”

But from the day of the crime, the war machine was in motion, targeting Iraq as well as Afghanistan.

The normalization of deviance that promoted war and marginalized reason at that moment of national crisis was not limited to Dick Cheney and his torture-happy acolytes, and so the global war they unleashed in 2001 is still spinning out of control.

When President Obama was elected in 2008 and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, few people understood how many of the people and interests shaping his policies were the same people and interests who had shaped President George W. Bush’s, nor how deeply they were all steeped in the same deviant culture that had unleashed war, systematic war crimes and intractable violence and chaos upon the world.

A Sociopathic Culture

Until the American public, our political representatives and our neighbors around the world can come to grips with the normalization of deviance that is corrupting the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, the existential threats of nuclear war and escalating conventional war will persist and spread.

President George W. Bush pauses for applause during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003, when he made a fraudulent case for invading Iraq. Seated behind him are Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (White House photo)

President George W. Bush pauses for applause during his State of the Union Address on Jan. 28, 2003, when he made a fraudulent case for invading Iraq. Seated behind him are Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert. (White House photo)

This deviant culture is sociopathic in its disregard for the value of human life and for the survival of human life on Earth. The only thing “normal” about it is that it pervades the powerful, entangled institutions that control U.S. foreign policy, rendering them impervious to reason, public accountability or even catastrophic failure.

The normalization of deviance in U.S. foreign policy is driving a self-fulfilling reduction of our miraculous multicultural world to a “battlefield” or testing-ground for the latest U.S. weapons and geopolitical strategies. There is not yet any countervailing movement powerful or united enough to restore reason, humanity or the rule of law, domestically or internationally, although new political movements in many countries offer viable alternatives to the path we are on.

As the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned when it advanced the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 3 minutes to midnight in 2015, we are living at one of the most dangerous times in human history. The normalization of deviance in U.S. foreign policy lies at the very heart of our predicament.

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

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43 comments for “US War Crimes or ‘Normalized Deviance’

  1. Joe Tedesky
    August 15, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I have loss all hope that the American citizen can stop this evil tide which is engulfing our once democratic shores. When the very people who are elected to bring down our deficit spending are being enriched by its explosive rise, then who may we citizens turn too? When the defense business profits so well from all these wars, then why should any of us expect to someday live in a peaceful world? After watching how the Democrate’s sabotaged the Sanders primary campaign, and then turned their caught cheating into a Russian hacker (guccifer is Romanian) story, then there is no hope.

    • Bob Van Noy
      August 15, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      I want to “second” your reply Joe, and state that indeed it does seem hopeless. Yesterday a New ayork Times Opinion piece on Honduras read like pure fiction. ”Normalized Deviance,” seems too kind…

    • alexander
      August 15, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      I would like to ‘third” your reply, Joe.

      Spot on.

      And yes, my goodness, there truly seems to be no hope.

      God help us all.

      • KB Gloria
        August 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm

        and I 4th

        • Coleen Rowley
          August 18, 2016 at 12:26 pm

          BUT, it does no good to lose hope. Humans are (fortunately) lousy at predicting the future. And real hope, the only real hope we have, fortunately lies in that inability.

          Objectively and factually speaking, it’s very true that we are closing in on midnight on the Doomsday Clock. So we seem to be pawns now with pernicious systemic forces pushing in that direction. But the worst is not pre-ordained and often the thing least likely to happen, beyond anyone’s ability to predict, DOES happen which changes everything. That’s where real hope lies. It does not lie in further deluding ourselves about the terrible present reality. As with Alcoholics Anonymous, the chance of a cure can only come after admitting the truth.

          Anyway, as a teacher of constitutional law and ethics, as well as a post 9-11 whistleblower re the illegality and stupidity of the post 9-11 wars and war crimes launched by the U.S., I have not read a better explanation than this one of how we have brought the world to this most dangerous moment in human history, just 3 minutes before midnight. Step One to any chance of recovery is knowing the reality.

          • Lawrence Fitton
            August 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm

            the problem is, we can’t get by step one. even the american citizens who are aware of the gravity of an imperial presidency, don’t care. ‘it will never happen to me.’ but i would bet most americans don’t know. and that’s because media outrage is nonexistent in the traditional forms – where most still get their news.

          • Karl Kolchack
            August 18, 2016 at 8:31 pm

            I’d love to ave hope–then I see a bunch of adult technodouchebags wandering around like mindless zombies playing Pokemon GO and I just give it up. This is no hope for America, and the only hope the rest of the world has is that America will implode without dragging everyone else down with it in a nuclear conflagration.

        • William
          August 18, 2016 at 6:02 pm

          Make mine the 5th.
          There is very little hope that the collapse of American ideals and standards of conduct can be halted. This headlong rush to destruction is much to be deplored, but is certainly not unprecedented. All great empires have collapsed, the greatest Western ones because of the creation and accumulation of enormous wealth. I am in general a supporter of capitalism and the right of individual intellect, drive, and initiative to grow wealth, but the extraordinary complexity of monetary policies and the inseparable connection today of govt. policy and the power of huge corporations allows for unscrupulous manipulation of markets, trade, and industrial growth.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Bob and Alexander, sorry I sound so down and desperate, but I often find myself wondering to where all this madness is leading our country. Our country’s military superiority is leading us down such a dark hole of the unknown to a point where nothing else matters. There are other things to attend too in life other than killing foreign people, but you would never know that by listening to our politicians. Instead with words of promising to keep us all safe, and to build a bigger better army, is all you hear. Here’s an idea, how about a healthcare system for all. Another good idea, would be to fix our drinking water, which has deteriorated to an unhealthy level.

      All this money spent on military armament is only pushing countries like Russia to expand their own military arsenal, so what’s the point? The point is, while we waste tax dollars by the bushels on being able to kill people better, our potential friends now become our new adversaries.

      Read the link I am providing to hear how a once reluctant Vladimir Putin, is now finally after much encouragement from his ally Syria making a permanent base in Khmeimim, Syria. This is a big deal, and it has already slowed down Israel’s military flights over the battered Syrian landscape. A smart person would warm up to the Russian leaders reluctant nature, and tell Netanyahu to fight his own wars.

      http://theduran.com/transforming-balance-power-eastern-mediterranean-russia-makes-syrian-base-permanent/

      • Peter Loeb
        August 18, 2016 at 9:30 am

        BELIEF IN THE SAVIOR

        It is a serious error to conflate(is that the word in fashion?) the
        presidential candidacy of Bernard Sanders in the US with
        a faith in a kind of messianic savior of some kind. These
        are typical illusions and romantic myths which tragically
        constitute much of the bedrock of American liberal and
        progressive thinking.

        As an American saying has it:
        “Get over it!!!”

        —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

        • Peter Loeb
          August 18, 2016 at 9:44 am

          NEW ANALYTICAL CONCEPTUAL TOOLS

          We should all be deeply indebted to Nicolas S.B. Davies’
          new conceptual tool magnificently presented in his article
          on “Normalized Deviance”. (Of course the bar always is high for
          Davies as we readers are becoming accustomed to a high standard
          in his work.)

          Without suggesting a rewrite or reformulation of any kind, I would
          propose that the absence of any mention of the US and ISRAEL
          is a flaw and should have been mentioned in his presentation.

          Davies article begs our careful scrutiny,

          —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Realist
      August 15, 2016 at 6:52 pm

      I don’t know where all this is leading, Joe, but the election as perceived by the American people is not what is being reported by the media and the polls they purportedly take. The polls say that Killary has this thing cinched because Trump has shown himself to be some kind of maniac, a modern day Hitler in league with Vladimir Putin, who is also a latter day Hitler. I never thought I’d be casually talking about the coming election with my fellow suburban pluggers in South Florida, but they just can’t help themselves express their fears of what is to come, especially the prospect of Hillary Clinton, whom they all seem to liken to a warmongering harpy that threatens civilisation’s very existence. They may be skeptical of Trump, but they are not pleased that the likely alternative is Hillary… or any Clinton… or any warmongering neocon. Joe Six Pack, as always, seems to be an isolationist at heart. The US should mind its own business instead of trying to run every corner of the world. It should concentrate on bringing back the jobs shipped overseas. It should rebuild the infrastructure, education and make health care truly affordable. It should stop squandering our tax money only on military adventures that benefit only the rich and kill the children of the working classes. It should make peace with Russia and China rather than threatening a nuclear confrontation. They don’t want their kids living in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. That is what people say when they get their dander up–which is now their first response when they contemplate the candidates from the two major parties, especially Hillary Clinton. If Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich could get on the ballot today, they’d win in a landslide. If only we could make that happen.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 15, 2016 at 10:09 pm

        Realist, it would be hard for me to disagree with anything you said. I am concerned for the future of my kids, and grandchildren. As far as this crappie election goes I’m beginning to think it’s all scripted.

  2. Zachary Smith
    August 15, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    The normalization of deviance in U.S. foreign policy lies at the very heart of our predicament.

    Amen.

    I can’t recall reading a better short essay than this one.

  3. Abe
    August 15, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Deviance Normalized: the Israelization of the United States

    Economist, academic, and social scientist M. Shahid Alam succinctly explained the normalization of deviance in U.S. foreign policy that lies at the very heart of our predicament:

    “Once Israel’s special relationship with the US was in place, it would acquire its own logic of success. This logic worked through several channels. First, as Jewish organizations worked to shape US policies towards Israel, they would improve their tactics, and their initial victories would bring more Jewish support and, in time, more success. This logic even worked to turn temporary reverses to Israel’s advantage. People who argue that the US special relationship with Israel was prompted by its victory in 1967 should also note that its near-defeat in 1973 led, the following year, to a more than five-fold increase in the US aid package to Israel to $2.6 billion. Egypt took this message to heart, deciding that it would be futile to challenge this special relationship any further. In 1978, it signed a separate peace with Israel, after US promised to sweeten the deal with an annual aid package of $2 billion. It’s chief rival eliminated, Israel’s hegemony over the Middle East was now more secure.

    “Iran’s Islamist revolution in 1979 added new strength to Israel’s special relationship with the US. The overthrow of the Iranian monarchy, the second pillar of American hegemony in the Middle East, increased Israel’s leverage over US policies. In addition, the accession to power of Islamists raised the bogey of the Islamic threat to the West. The Israeli lobby, especially its Middle East experts, had been making the case for some time that the Islamist movements in the Middle East opposed the US per se, and not merely its policies towards Israel. The alarm caused by the Iranian Revolution gave strength to this interpretation.

    “The end of the Cold War in 1990 stripped the special relationship of its old rationale. Israel would now have to invent a new one to continue to sell itself as a strategic asset. It would now market itself as the barrier, the break-water, against the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism. For many years, the chief opposition to the corrupt and repressive regimes in the Arab world, whether dictatorships or monarchies, had taken Islamist forms. Pro-Israeli apologists in the media and academia–mostly Jewish neoconservatives and Middle East experts–argued that the West now faced a new Islamic threat, global in its scope, which hated the freedoms, secular values and prosperity of the West. Bernard Lewis, the ‘doyen’ of Middle East experts and a passionate Zionist, solemnly intoned in 1993 that this was nothing less than a ‘clash of civilizations.’ This was a clever move, but also a necessary one, to convert Israel’s conflict with the Arabs into a new Crusade, the war of the West (read: United States) against Islam. It was clever move also because it had support from Christian fundamentalists, who were now a strong force in the Republican party.

    “The new Crusaders worked in tandem with Islamic extremists in the al-Qaida camp who also wanted to provoke a war between Islam and the US. Every time Osama’s men struck at American targets, it was exploited by the pro-Israeli lobby to promote the Clash thesis. When the nineteen hijackers struck on September 11, 2001, they could not have chosen a better time. The man at America’s helm was a born-again Christian, an isolationist, elected by right-wing Christians, with a cabinet that took its advice on foreign policy mostly from Jewish neoconservatives. The neoconservative’s plan for a new Crusade had been ready long before 9-11. They had the President’s ears after 9-11, and the President bought into their plan.”

    Israelization of the United States
    By M. Shahid Alam
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2003/04/05/israelization-of-the-united-states/

    Alam is a professor of economics at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, London.

    His many published books include Poverty from the Wealth of Nations (Macmillan, 2000), Governments and Markets in Economic Development Strategies (Praeger: 1989), Is There An Islamic Problem (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2004, republished in 2007 as Challenging the New Orientalism, IPI: 2007), and most recently, Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan: 2009).

    • Bill Bodden
      August 15, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      There is one sign of hope for Israel – albeit one of very limited hope – in the voices of “friends” or former accomplices who are finally speaking out with words to the effect that Israel is decaying from within. Other than the voices with limited audiences on websites such as Consortium News who is saying something similar in the United States? If you find something of that nature in the fawning corporate media, surprise us all with a citation. I tried on a few occasions with letters to the editor of our regional rag and apparently am now persona non grata.

      • Brad Owen
        August 16, 2016 at 5:21 am

        That “decaying from within” is the key. Keep watching for decay. Israel (ISis, RA, ELohim), is decaying from within; the E.U. (the former imperial powers whom I believe USE the USA to do THEIR dirty work of Empire, AGAINST the will of the citizens EVERYWHERE) is decaying from within. The republicans and democrats are decaying from within. The war economy is decaying from within. The financial structure that supports this Zeitgeist is decaying from within. The leadership of BRICS (especially Russia, China, India) is growing. The idea of Great Infrastructure Projects INSTEAD of Great Wars,(Silk Road, World Land Bridge, using the World’s Oceans to green the World’s deserts) is growing. A new Zeitgeist is taking root in the hearts & minds of the World’s people…the Gods/Ministering Angels/ Extraterrestrials (call Them what you will; They are what They are) are seeing to it. Anticipate the growth of the Green Party and Green ideas. It’s coming. praise the Lord.

  4. Ol' Hippy
    August 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    This great essay gets to the gist of most of the problem of the violence inflicted on foreign governments. My whole life I’ve wondered why this nation is always at war which is almost 62 years of continuous conflict including the cold war. What could all those trillions of dollars have done instead of building and deploying a military of galactic proportions? Where do all those sociopathic ‘officials’ come from and what could be done to reign them in? Votes matter not because the US govt does what it always does which continues it’s aggressive destruction of the planet. How does a peace lover such as myself live in a violent world without heavy medication that has already shortened my life? All I hear is how the main candidates will build our insanely obscene military even more. When is enough, enough? Thanks for all the good essays that perhaps the leaders should read also, and I wish everyone peace.

  5. Bill Bodden
    August 15, 2016 at 3:50 pm

    In 1945, after two world wars killed 100 million people and left much of the world in ruins, the world’s governments were shocked into a moment of sanity in which they agreed to settle future international disputes peacefully. The U.N. Charter therefore prohibits the threat or use of force in international relations.

    I became a teenager when the UN Charter was written and the Nuremberg Trials began. As a consequence they became my standards for civilized behavior. Similarly, Roosevelt, Churchill and others who were involved were models of statesmen. National leaders since then have rarely lapsed into statesmen mode so foreign policy is continuously in violation of the UN Charter and the Nuremberg principles. Jacques Barzun and others who have written about decadence in the West knew what they were talking about but have been ignored to our global peril in more ways than one.

    This essay is one of the more impressive and important on Consortium News, long a source for enlightened contributions.

  6. Dimitri Emmanuel
    August 15, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Agreed. Best short Essay, though its a hard pick amongst all the jewels that consortium news has unearthed. At least we can find some measure of hope in that we aren’t entirely alone in this Brave New World.

  7. Abe
    August 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    INTELLIGENCE TEST:
    Samuel P. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis is “Mein Kampf” for what N-word group?
    a) Neocons
    b) Neocons-in-drag (aka liberal interventionists)
    c) Neo-Nazis in Western Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe
    d) NATO
    e) Nuclear war enthusiasts from Washington to Tel Aviv
    f) all of the above

    Check your answer here:
    http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2014/3/1/204/17909

    Let’s just say, a certain preponderance of N-thusiasts are desperate to see the Russkies and NATO nuke the old Pale of Settlement and “completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven”. They know which way the wind blows.

    In the immediate vicinity of their glorious “outpost of civilization,” the league of normalized deviants has a distinct preference for depleted uranium. Since DU worked so well on the “enemies of Zion” in Babylon, they reckon it’ll work just fine in Aram and Persia.

  8. John
    August 15, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    When the Zionist are finished with the mighty USA (US Dollar) the only thing they will leave you is more debt for your children to repay…..and they will laugh telling each other how stupid you were……

  9. Brad Benson
    August 15, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    Excellent piece. Thank you for a concise, well-linked discussion of the Empire’s War Crimes and how they came about.

  10. Andrew Nichols
    August 15, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    “It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.

    I put to you that the United States is without doubt the greatest show on the road. Brutal, indifferent, scornful and ruthless it may be but it is also very clever. As a salesman it is out on its own and its most saleable commodity is self-love. It’s a winner. Listen to all American presidents on television say the words, ‘the American people’, as in the sentence, ‘I say to the American people it is time to pray and to defend the rights of the American people and I ask the American people to trust their president in the action he is about to take on behalf of the American people.” Harold Pinter

  11. F. G. Sanford
    August 15, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Drinks on the house at The Dada Cafe, the tab will be covered, the plunder will pay.
    Black and white pictures, mementos betray, there’s a hand-painted portrait of Hindenburg too.
    A flag full of bullet holes sanctifies courage, misspent on the meat grinder fields where it flew,
    Souvenirs votive redeemed for their souls, adorn walls where conspirators met to inveigh-

    A drawing that’s signed by an artist obscure, eludes his identity signed with a date,
    A sconce in the corner casts light to insure that the lamp Gallè signed won’t illuminate faces.
    The stones in the floor polished well by the leather of boots that were bound for inglorious places,
    The Dada Cafe still hosts all of her guests, they visit by conjuring tales of their fate.

    A radio stands on a shelf by the bar, its dimensions defy current state of the art,
    The large round loudspeaker and its repertoire would inspire the revelers gathered to drink.
    With only two knobs and some choices verboten, selective reception provided a link
    To the overlooked artist and memorabilia that hung from the beams and inspired the heart.

    “What good is an Army unless they are beasts, if not put to use on the battlefield stage,”
    All of the blathering pundits and priests become of a word when they’ve been in attendance,
    The Dada Cafe serves to calibrate pathos, the ethos be damned, glory fosters ascendance
    It’s The Warrior Creed not the old Soldier’s Code, Dada Cafe morals foster this age.

    “Things quite illegal we do right away, to flaunt Constitutional Law may take longer,”
    Kissinger said that and his dossier boasts a fathomless pit of atrocious misdeeds.
    He’s one of the regulars at The Cafe, buying drinks to insure that corruption proceeds.
    “We think it was worth it,” Ms. Madeleine chimed, “How dare you insinuate I’m a warmonger?”

    “Why should we care about Muslims stirred up?” Brzezinski inquired in frank disbelief,
    “The Soviet Union has drunk from the death cup, a few angry Mullahs are nothing to fear.”
    Five hundred thousand dead children from sanctions, Madeleine parried, “Stop bending my ear!”
    It’s not to insinuate foreign influence trumps normalized deviance as a motif-

    But let’s not forget about those Dulles brothers, along with the bankers they joined at Versailles,
    They would import Reinhardt Gehlen and others, bankers and lawyers all got a free pass,
    Carl Schmidt lent a hand in the Patriot Act, Hjalmar Schacht would inspire the financial class,
    There’s much to be said for The Dada Cafe, where intoxicants mix to refresh the war cry,

    After the battle, the hubris is frightening, “We came and we saw and he died, cackle cackle.”
    Sooner or later comes fact-filled enlightening, derivative risk is a time bomb that’s ticking,
    Some estimates reach in the hundreds of trillions, the rest of the world is fed up with boot licking-
    Foreign affairs serve to prop up the dollar, Israeli transgressions are too big to tackle.

    Two are the outcomes the wider world sees: financial collapse or a war of aggression.
    A war of aggression with tragic reprise will most likely engender a global response.
    Along with that option there’s risk of inflation and Putin just marvels at our nonchalance.
    I’m sure he anticipates we’d fire nukes before jailing the bankers to stop a depression.

    America once was the home of the brave, but now its a “homeland” that trembles in fear.
    “Please politicians, it’s safety we crave, we don’t care if The President follows his oath,
    Preserving, protecting, defending the law takes a backseat to safety if we can’t have both,
    We’re scared and we’ll settle for either warmonger, we hold the two-party duopoly dear.”

    American leaders stop in for a beverage, The Dada Cafe serves up evil on ice,
    Normalized deviance lacks enough leverage, the Spanish-American War made them rich,
    If they hadn’t tossed back a few more cold glasses, then maybe the Spanish would fall for that pitch.
    Nothing has changed, and the evil is normal, von Braun and his deviants worked for a price.

    The old guard still gathers at Dada Cafe, where trophies commemorate heroic feats,
    Soldiers and Sailors would die in the fray, leaving banners and emblems to hang from the beams,
    Tales putting normalized practice in place would require that profiteers pay for their schemes
    Twelve feet of hemp hoisted over the beams, might discourage what Dada Cafe still repeats.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 15, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      If the hemp doesn’t scare these evil doers then lets show them the piano wire instead. I’ll bring the stools, and I’ll buy the first round. You tip the bartender at the Dada Cafe, while I’ll kick the stools out from under their evil doers soles. Then afterwards we will toast, and then we will toast even more, until our laughter turns to tears and we denounce Robespierre. I’ll buy the last round, and bid you farewell, because it was all bound to happen since we send them to hell. Just another average hang’n at the Dada Cafe. Bottoms up!

    • Marius Jacob
      August 18, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      “…men who will kill you and justify it because it’s the law. ” Charles Bukowski [on bosses.] If the shoe fits wear it.

      ‘mericer is a nation without a moral compass. Bomber Bill Clinton legalized kidnapping for the purposes of torture or murder by changing it’s name to “extraordinary rendition.” Acceptance and silence. Obamanothercountrysell more weapons, the spin jiver, changed the definition of war to embrace and permit the horror and murder by bombing as longing as there are “no boots on the ground.” Acceptance and silence.

      The msm does not report the ongoing atrocities occurring around the world hence ony 10% of democrat and 20% of republican and independent voters think foreign policy is a priority in the election. If the public ever thinks about it there will be a new celebrity horror story or a new electronic toy to divert their attention. The people in charge of CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the NY and LA Times, and the other alleged msm news outlets will do their job to get the public back in line.

      ‘mericer has been killing, looting, plundering since the nation was born. The democrats who live under the cover of better communication skills, telegenic pathological lying politicians, and the Bernaisian ability to pleasantly lie while looking you straight in the face have been a war party since their inception. It’s not just the coarse uncaring war mongering republicans. Jackson drove the Native Americans from their homeland in spite of a Supreme Court order directing him not to do so. The dems gave the continent and the world “manifest destiny” and no one has ever since been safe. Genocide and open air prisons [reservations] for the indigenous people, World War I, war against the leftist labor movement and restrictions on pro labor European immigrants, arms dealing and World War II, nuclear weapons and their use, the NSA. CIA, the 1st cold war, the Korean War, invasion of Cuba, multiple assassination attempts against Castro, the Viet Nam War, all the horrors that have unfolded and are ongoing in the middle east and Africa, the destruction of Yugoslavia, the right wing coup in the Ukraine [the globalists in Washington got the gov’t they wanted and Biden’s son got a job], the largest increase in domestic and foreign surveillance, the new cold war with China and Russia, coups, the largest amounts of immoral arms dealing, proxy armies, mercenaries, shadow armies, etc.

      To vote for a democrat or a republican is to willingly join in acts of premeditated murder and to commit your own personal suicide.

  12. Erik
    August 15, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    The amoral militarism of the US is due to the problem of warmonger tyranny over democracy of which Aristotle warned. Tyrant warmongers are demagogues who must create foreign threats to demand personal power as false protectors, and to accuse their opponents of disloyalty. Their desire for power is infantile; they do not seek reasons, only excuses. It never occurs to them to do anything at all in the public interest, beyond their self-advertising budget. Invariably they cause a disaster and declare a victory, and the entirety of US foreign policy since WWII is a string of such disasters. Tyrant warmongers have disgraced the United States forever, and made it an empty suit of armor blundering around the globe, swinging its sword madly.

    If the US had spent its pointless military expenditures since WWII on humanitarian assistance, it would have lifted half the world’s population from poverty. If it had thereby built the roads, schools, and hospitals of the developing world, it would have no organized enemies, and would have truly achieved an American century. It failed to do so because an oligarchy of economic concentrations control the mass media and elections.

    In a poorly-regulated economy, it is the bully-boy driven by insatiable greed and lust for dominance, and not encumbered by ethics, who rises to dominance of big business, not the hardworking well educated professional who may have some moral education. The rise of unregulated economic concentrations has led to world wars and generations of warmonger tyrants since WWII, and their dominance of mass media and elections to proclaim their garbage rationales for war, their dominance of policy by the executive, and their destruction of freedom of thought and expression.

    Unregulated economic concentrations are the disease of America. But this oligarchy claims to be its strength, when in fact it has corrupted the political parties with special interest money, has severely damaged the US economy with institutionalized robbery and destabilizing by the financial, investment, and insurance sectors, financial corruption of med/pharma, has corrupted the legal/judicial system, denied the US basic product/service standards, and has sought to enslave and impoverish the people.

    Tyrant warmongers ally themselves with oligarchy because it has the same origin and personal motives, and the money to control elections and mass media, the tools of democracy. Together they have effected a right-wing revolution. Our Constitutional Convention failed to protect mass media and elections from the economic concentrations that did not then exist, and in 1870-1930 the emerging middle class did not perceive the danger. So long as oligarchy control elections and mass media, there is no democracy in the US.

    The US needs constitutional amendments to restrict funding of mass media and elections to limited registered individual contributions, and to improve checks and balances. But we cannot get those protections because we do not have those very tools of democracy.

    We have almost lost the opportunity to extend the original greatness of America to the world, with our American Century since the right-wing revolution spent in military adventures and selfishness instead of solving the world’s greatest problems of poverty, ignorance, malnutrition, and disease.

    The US people are tyrannized by economic slavery to fear the least nonconformity, and do not have the courage of the simple farmers and woodsmen who established the nation. Their tools of elections and mass media are already in the hands of their masters. Educators and activists gamble in despair that the People can still be educated and led to assemble the shreds of power that remain to them into a new revolution. A humanitarian New American Century is still possible but the means are unknown. We must oppose oligarchy with all our efforts and all that we have.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 15, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      Well said, Erik.

    • Evangelista
      August 16, 2016 at 9:12 pm

      Erik,

      Your assertions:

      “Our Constitutional Convention failed to protect mass media and elections from the economic concentrations…”
      and
      “The US needs constitutional amendments to restrict funding of mass media and elections…”

      run up against an insurmountable obstruction which is that the Constitution is not law for the United States, or the People of the United States, but law for the government of the United States.

      The Preamble to the Constitution defines who was making the law of the Constitution, and who was to be controlled by the law of the Constitution, and what benefits were to accrue from the government operating in obedience to the law of the Constitution, and to whom those specified benefits were to accrue. The Preamble defines the United States created by the Constitution a Republic, stating that the Constitutional Unied States created by the Constitution is to benefit the People of the United States, and that the purpose for the government created by the Constitution is to be to preserve the blessings of Liberty for the People, who made the law of the Constitution, and their posterity.

      The point you raise, of media and elections needing restrictions to prevent economic concentration and funding bias skewing them, is not a component of government, for which solutions are not within Constitutional jurisdiction. It is, instead, the responsibility of the governing to make laws to prevent economic concentration and unfair funding distribution from skewing the presentations the People depend on in making their election decisions.

      The failures of those in government to provide necessary regulation to provide for he welfare of The People is not a failure of the Constitution, but failure by those who have sought for and accepted responsibilities as servants of The Peopl and providers of government services as The People, and their welfare, and the preservation of their Liberties, require. The pro-action activites of those servants that work against The People, and against their general interests and welfare, such as gerrymandering to skew elections, are, for their being deliberately done, willful and maliciously intended to interfere with the interests of The People, are criminal activities.

      Because the U. S. Constitution numbers amendments and so preserves all amendments, including repealed ones, the U. S. Constitution preserves, in the 18th Amendment an example of wrongful use of the Constitution in attempt to incorporate law for the United States, rather than law for the govenment of the United States, in the Constitution. If you read the 18th Amendment (essentially an iteration of a law, the Volstead Act) and the Amendments around it, you can see the difference, and recognize the abuse. The 18th Amendment, in its first paragraph, attempts to pretend Constitutional law to have force to prohibit The People of the United States from making, importing, selling, buying, etc. alcoholic beverages for The People’s consumption, and in its second paragraph attempts to assign Congress to have power over The People of the United States, to controll them and their activities, instead of preserve the rights and privileges of The People, to preserve the Republican form of government the Preamble states the Constitution’s law to be purposed to preserve.

      Adding more unConstitutional amendments, like the 18th, to the Constitution would do no more than make more of a mess of the Constitution than has been made by irresponsible and treasonous manipulators using legal twisting and lawyer-trick finessing to “interpret” meanings to serve their and fellow-servants’ self-aggrandizing and power-transferring purposes.

      What we need to do is throw out all of the interpetings and go back to the current Constitution that we already have, defining to basic meanings and restricting interpreting to preserving the stated purposes we already have, set forth in the Preamble.

      • Erik
        August 22, 2016 at 7:43 am

        Agreed that much interpretation of the Constitution must be discarded. But the present Constitution is quite inadequate to deal with the problems mentioned; and the legislature cannot correct this permanently. The issue requires consideration of the changing nature of power itself.

        The reason that amendments are required is that the present Constitution deals only with regulation of the Forms of power that then existed, primarily direct force. There was then no concept of economic force as a parallel form of coercion requiring specific provisions. Even now there is little understanding of the newest Form of power, which is information power, and the inability of present institutions to control that. That is why amendments are needed to protect present elections and mass media from economic power. The legislature cannot change the highest organization of law to introduce new forms of protection, it can only try to simulate the results based upon a brief consideration of specific issues.

        The Constitution also does a poor job of checks and balances. The Executive branch has all of the real power, and does what it pleases, concealing its acts and lying to the people. Every act of the other branches must go through the Executive to be effective. This is like relying upon the rudder of an airplane in case the landing gear fails. Every subsystem must have internal checks and balances, internal redundancy, or the system does not work. The idea of Checks and Balances was a simple early recognition of the need for redundant design practices which are now well understood, and in use in such areas as reliable airplane and computer system design. Reading the Federalist Papers shows the simple nature of those considerations; the Constitution needs to be amended to work properly. The legislature cannot change the structure of the branches of government.

  13. Curious
    August 15, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    This very good article by Mr Davies should be run on the front page of every newspaper in the US of A. If only the editors had the intestinal fortitude to tell the truth and the way things really are, and have gone so amiss.

    Please run the celebrity drivel on page 20++ you editors, or those of you who have any conscience left.

  14. Bill Bodden
    August 15, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    In a version of the chicken-egg conundrum are national leaders deviants of their own volition or are they such wretched creatures because the people are morally-challenged and mute thus allowing our “leaders” to become what they have become. Lord Acton’s dictum about absolute power corrupting absolutely is undoubtedly a factor. Unfortunately, an apathetic and, thus, pathetic populace does not provide the restrictions on national leaders that is the duty of citizens.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 16, 2016 at 12:12 am

      Bill, this was suppose to be the year of the antiestablishment vote, but since the establishment doesn’t play by the rules, well forget the antiestablishment change we were looking forward to. To make matters worst, our media is having a ball bashing everything Russian. What’s even more disturbing, is that the public is buying into this reckless narrative. My optimistic brain is paralyzed into submission. I’m not with her, and America will never be great again unless there is some real hope and change that is real, and not just a rhetorical campaign slogan.

  15. mahatmadarby
    August 16, 2016 at 11:43 am

    The take away from this is that yes the Normalized Deviance phenomenon is present in corporate culture as we see in VW or any of the big pharma corporations as well as in the US/German/EU/Japanese/Israeli/Saudi governments among others. What must be recognized is that it exists in society generally. It is not simply confined to this or that large organization it permeates our society.

    No one expressed it better than Howard Zinn did years ago:

    “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

    Normalized Deviance expressed in different terms. Wipe cities off the map with nuclear weapons killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people – evaporating them, then holding the threat over the world while people have said nothing for 70 years. So the US by the surrender of a civilized response by the human population makes its plans to use them again.

    That is the ultimate Normalized Deviance.

  16. exiled off mainstreet
    August 16, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    This is a good article on how barbarism slowly evolves to become the normal operating procedure. Like the others, I don’t see any way out, but see the end of the road if the structure triumphs again in the election, whether or not it is scripted.

  17. Wendi
    August 16, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    What Zach said – this is among the best succinct and pointed essays I’ve read.

    There is a way to repair our world: Change what money is. Use local currency. In each different watershed, which also says (implies) align sovereign authority borders along watershed lines. A river is the heart of a country (and its coin), not the border.

    They who have dollars would have no wealth.
    Bucky Fuller said, “wealth is the number of forward days a system can be maintained.” (His example: A pile of corn is more wealth than a pile of dollars.)

    The idea of ‘local currencies’ is something I distilled from Ellen Brown’s book Web of Debt. Which is the name of her website, with dot com.

    Her ideas are emergent. Bitcoins and other ‘block chain currencies’ are emergent. Yuan – ruble exchanges are emergent. Can you spell ren min bi? ‘Euro’ denominated countries seem perhaps reverting to local currencies; Britain balked at switching (local) pounds to uniform Continental euros. First Peoples (North America) have wampum. Changing money is beginning.

    There was (1990) the House of Representatives’ so-called ‘Post Office scandal’ which involved counting postage stamps (and franking privileges) as money. Somewhat today there is talk of restoring the public Post Office bank. (Remember ‘money orders’?) News stories tell of North Dakota’s public bank, (and healthy finances), the last remaining since every (?) State used to have its own public bank. Of things to come, Social Security and retirement pension funds are only money numbers in computer memory.

    A winning lottery card or receipt could be circulated in token-value transactions and economic activity, until someone eventually redeems it for face-value dollars.

    We can change what money is. Disparage Fed Reserve-issued and Treasury-printed dollars. Money need not be valued by metals – gold, silver, and whatnot. Money may be a share of local regional wealth, circulated under local authority, hardly exactly transferrable worldwide.

    Occupy the land. End billionaires.
    Act locally. Think globally.
    What old hippie said.

  18. James N. Vail
    August 18, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Without normalized deviance being written into man’s DNA, there would be none of the world’s religions. Original and ongoing sin, say the preachers, cannot be removed by man himself but need supernatural intervention, to which I say Amen.

  19. Great
    August 18, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Have you heard the word? Ranchers intend to lead us to a slaughter house.
    That’s for the BIRDS! Honey, BEES hive a disease. It’s in the air we breathe. Think!

    Geo-engineering, Radioactive seas. White-out skies. You can’t see!

    The Continuity of Government is not safe or effective. Federal assets may be seized.
    Acts of aggression are universally prohibited by ratified treaty. Honesty is Policy #1.

    Defend us from evil. Give us leaders not into temptation of global initiatives & charity fraud.

  20. Coleen Rowley
    August 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    As a teacher of constitutional law and ethics, as well as a post 9-11 whistleblower re the illegality and stupidity of the post 9-11 wars and war crimes launched by the U.S., I have not read a better explanation than this one of how we have brought the world to this most dangerous moment in human history, just 3 minutes before midnight.

    Similarly, I have often referred to the series of post 9-11 Office of Legal Memos as “legalizing the illegal.” The government lawyers that did/do their masters’ bidding, rely on immunity from ever being held responsible as their “legal privilege.” Instead of worrying per Nuremberg principles that lawyers are not immune from accountability when they enable and cover-up commission of wrongful conduct. So their work consists of finding loopholes and pretexts for violating the age-old, centuries-old legal principles like due process and prohibition against torture and wanton killing, never worrying how they set pernicious precedents for other countries when/if the tables get reversed.

    But law came into being based on pragmatic reciprocity, not based on law enforcement which didn’t even exist at the time. So law melts away into chaos when “exceptions” by exceptional players or nations attempt to put themselves above the law that they insist still applies to “others.” This is how double standards lead to chaos. All religions and philosophies have always tried to express the reality that wrongful actions entail bad consequences, i.e. “we reap what we sow,” karma, what goes around comes around, etc.

    Americans have been led to believe that the bad consequences of eroding the universal ethical and legal principles that have stood the test of time, only fall on foreigners. Already many bad consequences are falling on Americans, but Americans are slow to connect the dots. It may be that it will take nuclear exchange/death as the ultimate bad consequence affecting Americans as well as to foreigners.

  21. A.T.
    August 19, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Normalized deviance is a good angle, but anyone familiar with the North American Conquest over its Indigenous Peoples would recognize this as normal behavior for the United States ruling elitists.

    To a lesser degree, its not surprising that laws inspired by the suffering of European whites by war suddenly lose force when applied to brown peoples traditionally under attack by the imperialist white nations of Western Europe.

    Still, the Kellog-Briand Pact lacked a critical feature common to most domestic criminal laws; an enforcement mechanism.

    This loophole-by-absence carried over into the U.N. Charter. (It also nullified the renunciation of war by allowing the UN Security Council to authorize ‘force’; war by euphamism).

    Thus, ‘normalization of deviance’ was built into the system of international law insofar as it took a fair amount of influence to see justice done. Nicaragua, for example, could count of the support of the Soviet Union, if no-one else, not to bury their case.

    Such an enforcement mechanism does not technically require a surrender of sovereignty; it does require enacting domestic laws willing to put in place enforcement measures for international human rights commitments to make their signage more than feel-good fodder for photo-ops and speeches.

    Challenges to America’s illegal Vietnam war were dismissed as nonjudiciable political questions; that is to say, the law was either unclear or incomplete and so required settlement by legislative officials, not the judiciary. This exemplifies the problem; declarations of illegality have no meaning when they are not enforced by clear adjudicative steps and left to politicians and officials to be resolved piecemeal, if at all.

    Without the sense of elite-level commitment to enforcement enforced from below – the United States still has a robust anti war movement – penalties even for better-defined war crimes for the grunts will start to lose meaning as they have.

    So what are needed are fair laws, clear laws, and especially, enforceable laws giving teeth to Article VI provision that treaties, like the U.N. Charter, become the ‘supreme law of the land’, making it easier for the American people to use the judicial branch where the legislative and executive fail. When taken to courts over illegal wars, the judiciary should not be able to say oops, sorry, ‘nonjudiciable’ and drop the case without so much as hinting Congress needs to make a law for it.

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