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.
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes
The Palauan president-elect has vowed to stand up to Chinese “bullying” in the Pacific, saying that the archipelago nation is set to stand by its alliances with “true friends,” Taiwan and the US. Surangel Whipps Jr, 52, a supermarket owner and two-time senator from a prominent Palauan family, is to be sworn in as the new president tomorrow, succeeding his brother-in-law, Tommy Remengesau Jr. In a forthright interview, Whipps said that the US had demonstrated over the years that it was a reliable friend of Palau, most recently shown by its delivery of 6,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. “It’s important for