The story of how US President George W. Bush ended up with former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's pistol mounted in his private study off the Oval Office has dribbled out in the last few weeks, and it is a good one. \nAs first reported in Time magazine, the soldiers who captured Saddam in December presented the mounted sidearm as a gift to Bush in a visit to the White House. They were members of the Army's Delta Force, Bush later said, and they had confiscated the unloaded pistol from Saddam's lap when they pulled him out of his underground bunker near Tikrit. \n"It's now the property of the US government," Bush said at a news conference in Savannah, Georgia, when asked specifically about the pistol and whether he would return it to the people of Iraq. What the gun tells us about the president, the war and the relationship of the Bush family to Saddam is another story entirely. It is in many ways better, or at least more interesting, than the first. \n`father's shadow' \nThe Iraqi dictator, after all, tried to assassinate Bush's father in 1993, when he was only a year out of the White House, as payback for the 1991 Persian Gulf war that the former president George Bush had waged on Saddam. In other words, the gun is more than a gun, at least according to the Freudians. \n"It's the phallic equivalent of a scalp -- I mean that quite seriously," said Stanley Renshon, a psychoanalyst and political scientist at the City University of New York who has just completed a book, to be published by Palgrave/Macmillan in September, called In His Father's Shadow: The Transformations of George W. Bush. \nIn Renshon's view, Bush went to war for geostrategic reasons, but there was a powerful personal element as well. In short, Saddam's gun is a trophy that symbolizes victories both military and psychic. \n"There are a lot of different levels at which this operates," Renshon said. \n"The critics say this is all about finishing up Daddy's mess. I think that is way too off base to be serious. But psychology operates regardless of party line, and this seems to me to be a case in which psychology can't help but express itself, because it's a natural outgrowth of what he's been through and how he feels about it. It's perfectly normal to me," Renshon said. \nMichael Sherry, a military historian at Northwestern University, noted that there was a long record of soldiers seizing the weapons of vanquished enemies as the ultimate symbols of defeat. (Even so, it is illegal for American soldiers to take guns from an enemy and keep them for themselves, which is almost certainly why the president declared that the pistol was US government property, rather than his own.) \nRelinquishing weapons has historically been part of surrender ceremonies, even though Ulysses Grant chose not to ask for Robert Lee's sword at Appomattox Court House in 1865 and excluded officers' sidearms from the weapons that the Army of Northern Virginia was expected to turn over to him. \n`childish' \nSaddam's pistol, which Bush shows off to visitors, is a different matter altogether, Sherry said, because it was presidential acquisition by force. "Whatever specific symbolism Bush may privately attach to this token, it does make it look to the external viewer that he sees this in very personal terms," Sherry said. In the end, he said, "I'm left feeling that it sounds kind of childish." \nOther presidents, Theodore Roosevelt in particular, have had guns, and many others have kept tokens of what they consider the most historic moments of their presidencies. \nThe Ronald Reagan Library displays a graffiti-covered section of the Berlin Wall, which Reagan famously called on former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down; George Washington kept a key to the Bastille sent to him after the French Revolution by the Marquis de Lafayette, who served under Washington in the American Revolution and considered an inspiration for French liberty. \nBush keeps at least one other war-related token: the badge of George Howard, a Port Authority police officer who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, given to him by Howard's mother. Bush held up the badge in his address to a joint session of Congress nine days after the attacks and declared: "This is my reminder of lives that ended, and a task that does not end." \nIn that context, Saddam's pistol is a bookend of sorts, the prize of a president who viewed the badge as reason for waging two wars. To the Delta Force that brought it back, the gun is a piece of history representing nothing less than mission complete.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
‘WOULD NOT COMPLY’: The company’s user data are kept in Singapore and it would not turn the data over to Beijing even if asked, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said Social media app TikTok has distanced itself from Beijing after India banned 59 Chinese apps in the country, according to a correspondence seen by Reuters. In a letter to the Indian government dated on Sunday last week and seen by Reuters on Friday, TikTok chief executive Kevin Mayer said the Chinese government has never requested user data, nor would the company turn it over if asked. TikTok, which is not available in China, is owned by China’s ByteDance, but has sought to distance itself from its Chinese roots to appeal to a global audience. Along with 58 other Chinese apps, including Tencent
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting