New Internationalist

Bush in deep doo-doo

Issue 393

Recent revelations about some of the gifts to top US officials from foreign dignitaries have created a bit of a stir. But while we can wonder what prompted Saudi Prince Faisal to give Colin Powell a $25,000 Bulgari necklace in 2004 and worry about the implications, Seriously is far more interested in the obscurer items on the US State Department’s list of official prezzies from ‘foreign government sources’ – and what their underlying meaning might be.

For example, US President George W Bush received a small cache of weaponry in the form of a $10,000-sniper rifle and 11 antique handguns from King Abdullah of Jordan. Praise for the War on Terror? Or a hope that Cheney will take Bush out on another accident-prone hunting trip? One clue might be that along with the arsenal, the King also sent samples of ‘fertilizer’. The list didn’t specify what type of fertilizer, but we’ve got some idea what might be in those jars ‘held on a 12” x 15” wooden revolving display’ on the President’s mantelpiece.

Meanwhile Hungarian Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy gave the President a braided leather whip. No one at the White House could confirm whether the whip was intended as a political statement of Bush’s foreign policy or just meant for recreational use back on the ranch.

One of our favourites is from the Sultan of Brunei who gave Dubya a copy of The Worst-Case Scenario Handbook along with some DVDs of Singin’ in the Rain and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Not to be outdone though, Donald Rumsfeld scored big with nice bottles of wine and an aromatherapy gift set (another corker from Jordan), perhaps in an effort to get him to chill out. Unfortunately Rummie passed the gift along to the General Services Administration and still hasn’t chilled out.

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This article was originally published in issue 393

New Internationalist Magazine issue 393
Issue 393

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