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Sat, 15 Jan 2005

Trance again

The notion of trance has been a constant theme for me since I undertook a hypnosis training in the early 80's and then declined to use it, (I felt it gave way too much power to the practitioner).

Trance is a pedestal that raises up and legitimizes state violence, enabling it to be perceived as heroic and triumphal. A 'war' trance is generated in the first instance by rationalizations of the urgency or inevitability of the need for violence, of which the WMD fiction can hardly be bettered as an example. The trance is then sustained by the contingencies of fighting and 'security', i.e. that the zone of action is so dangerous (or so secret) that reporting from it, as is presently the case in Iraq, is minimal.  The destruction of 70% of Falluja in the name of 'democracy' and 'freedom', despite considerable evidence—very few dead insurgents—that the 'resistance' had moved elsewhere—has been a clear example another is the imbalance in the range of pictures we see coming out of Iraq, for example, more,  pictures of the dead in Falluja. By narrowing the focus of our attention, or conversely extending the compass of our inattention, trance enables administrations and organizations to push the primary agendas of a conflict, and especially the damage that it entails, out of consciousness. So that once again in my living memory, Iraqi (and Palestinian) civilian lives are seen to be 'devoid of value'. 

When, as with the Abu Ghraib pictures, the torture in Guantanamo and by the UK in the south of Iraq currently in the news, and the leakage through blogs such as this page from Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches about mysterious goings on in 'free' Fallujah, and cameramen such as Kevin Sites, the invisibility of the hidden oppression and damage is interrupted, the trance of moral superiority is broken and the psychic weakness behind the US false front of  shock and awe is revealed. Might Abu Ghraib and/or Falluja, as I fancy, amount to an inflection point? A point of no return, following which the initial intentions of the attack are seen to fail? Perhaps, though as always, withdrawal will take some time yet.

A couple of reminders were they to be needed. The UK/US media often describe what has been happening in Aghanistan, Bagram and Abu Ghraib and especially Guantanamo, as 'abuse' when 'torture' is the accurate description. Also just as important, I continue to think that the accurate way of framing the Iraq adventure is as an 'attack'. Calling it a 'war', tolerating other people calling it a 'war', is to tolerate and propagate the Bush/Blair trance induction that ending the Saddam Hussein regime at this time and in this way was a rational, logical necessity, i.e. that the US and the UK were actually in any danger whatever from the Iraqi regime. As witness the declaration this week, that the search for WMD, itself a key element of the trance induction in Iraq, had been quietly dropped.

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