One key element in clinical psychology training is learning to pay attention at a finer granularity. Subtle shifts in wording, posture, and expression can convey much to the attentive observer. Even the inattentive are affected unconsciously. A corollary is that my own subtle shifts communicate a great deal to those I’m working with, and I need to be unusually aware of their detailed presentation.
As with most intrapsychic occurrences, this dynamic also plays out on the social plane. What feels like a subtle shift in mood and approach can speak volumes to those on the other end of the power equation. As a result what seems on one end to be a legitimate ruse to locate a dangerous enemy can be experienced on the other end as an invalidation of everything associated with the deception.
Such, unfortunately, is the case with the US employment of a fake campaign promoting and dispensing hepatitis vaccine in Pakistan as a means of locating Osama bin Laden and kin. Given the way vaccination campaigns were recently used, much of Pakistan no longer trusts them, and immunizers have been banned from Taliban territory, an area that includes over 300,000 children. What makes this particularly troubling is that the Afghanistan/Pakistan border area includes one of the world’s two “persistent pockets of polio transmission” according to the WHO.
The prospect of polio transmission draws the attention of national governments, and India has declared its children at risk of cross-border infection as long as Pakistan cannot carry out vaccination programs. And it cannot: recently immunization workers were publicly beaten in Islamabad.
As Laurie Garrett says at CFR:
Some people said a small amount of suspicion of vaccines from the CIA activities a year ago was merely collateral damage in the “war on terrorism.” Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States and its allies have over the last fifteen years killed about five thousand people. Today that collateral damage could mean that many children in Pakistan are at risk of dying or being permanently paralyzed by polio, and the reversal of eradication efforts that could swiftly spawn outbreaks across the entire region.