We recently were reminded by a Federal Bureau of Investigations agent who interviewed Saddam Hussein before the former Iraqi dictator's execution that the tyrant was an arch bluffer.
George W. Bush Presidential Library
Saddam Hussein's 9 mm Glock, one of former President George W. Bush's favorite souvenirs from his White House days.
George W. Bush Presidential Library
For instance, agent George Pirro's notes, which were recently made public, capture the reality that Hussein bluffed about having weapons of mass destruction because of his concerns about Iran with which Iraq had fought decade-long war.
Today, in a story about the likelihood that the gun Hussein was captured with in 2003 will go on display in former President George W. Bush's future library, we're reminded that the 9 mm Glock was unloaded when U.S. special forces troops captured Hussein. Another example of Hussein's bark being bigger than his bite.
Douglas Brinkley, an author and history professor at Rice University, said the pistol opened a psychological window into Mr. Bush's view of his presidency.
"It represents this Texas notion of the white hats taking out the black hats and keeping the trophy," Mr. Brinkley said. "It's a True West magazine kind of pulp western mentality. For President Bush, this pistol represents his greatest moment of triumph, like the F.B.I. keeping Dillinger's gun. He wants people generations from now to see the gun and say, 'He got the bad guy.' "
Mr. Bush once said his favorite biography was of Sam Houston, the Texas hero who would have kept a gun from a vanquished enemy, Mr. Brinkley said. The fact that Mr. Hussein's gun was unloaded was an amazing "irony," he added.
Mark Langdale, the president of the George W. Bush Foundation, said the library would use items to highlight 25 of Mr. Bush's presidential decisions. "The gun is an interesting artifact, and it tells you that the United States captured Saddam Hussein and disarmed him literally," Mr. Langdale said. "How we fit that into the decision to go to war, we haven't gotten to that point yet."
Over the years, several journalists have reported that the semiautomatic pistol was one of Bush's favorite souvenirs to show Oval Office visitors and this story again mentions that Bush tendency.
So it makes sense that it would likely have a prominent place in the planned library. It also makes it likely that if the former despot's weapon indeed goes on display, it would be one of the biggest draws at the museum.
The story quotes Langdale, the president of the Bush foundation, saying museum officials haven't decided how to fit the gun into the story of the decision to go to war.
Some historians and presidential scholars would no doubt point Langdale to Bush's statement at a 2002 fundraiser in Texas before the U.S. invasion. "There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is the guy that tried to kill my dad at one time," Bush said. That statement made many suspect that the former president had more than geopolitics or fighting terrorism on his mind when he launched the invasion, that there was something personal there.
Hussein also infamously had a mosaic of a grimacing former president George H. W. Bush, that same father, embedded in the entryway of Baghdad's Al Rashid Hotel after the Persian Gulf War. Anyone entering the hotel was forced to walk on his face. That mosaic was destroyed by chisel-wielding U.S. soldiers shortly after the invasion.
Pity that mosaic wasn't saved for the new Bush museum as a symbol of the animosity that existed between the Bushes and Hussein.