This essay proffers a psychoanalytic reading of the events of Abu Ghraib as deeply symptomatic of changes in American foreign policy and political culture. The paper examines the Lacanian understanding of group formation developed by Slavoj Zizek in his work on politics and culture (in Part I), and then applies this understanding to the Abu Ghraib scandal (Part II). In Part III, implications of the analysis are elaborated, in terms of Zizek's contention that the contemporary "permissive society" engenders in subjects the desire for new forms of mastery or "moral clarity".
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