Monday, June 21, 2004

"It Is Now the Property of the U.S. Government"

In the International Herald Tribune's special article today, Elisabeth Bumiller has an interesting piece on how Saddam Hussein's pistol ended up in the Oval Office (although a few eyebrows may be raised when Freudians try to explain that the handgun is "the phallic equivalent of a scalp").
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 [i.e., the straightforward story of how the soldiers who captured Saddam presented the mounted sidearm as a gift to the president]. …

In [Stanley] Renshon's view, Bush went to war for geo-strategic 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. … Michael 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.

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.

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