Saddam Hussein's gun to go on display at Bush library
Deposed Iraqi leader was armed with the pistol when Delta Force troops captured him in 2003
The weapon, a 9mm Glock 18C, was discovered by Delta Force special troops when they dug Hussein out of his fox hole outside Tikrit on 13 December 2003. The legendary beast of Baghdad emerged from the 8ft-deep hole bewildered and disorientated; with his shaggy beard and unkempt mop of hair he looked closer to a dishevelled elf than one of the world's great dictators.
The Iraq war at that point was still in its infancy, Bush was feeling buoyant. In his eyes the pistol represented a fundamental triumph of good over evil.
After four Delta Force soldiers presented Bush with the pistol, mounted in a glass case, it became one of his most prized possessions. He would show it off in the Oval Office to visiting military dignitaries, with the boast "The Delta guys pulled it off Saddam".
Now the New York Times has discovered that he intends to make it a centrepiece of his presidential library that is being built, at a cost of $200m (£123m), on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Though the gun belongs to the US national archives, associates told the Times that he intends prominently to display it there. The library is to be organised thematically around 25 key decisions taken by Bush during his eight years in the White House.
Mark Langdale, the president of the foundation that is being set up in Bush's name, told the paper that "the gun is an interesting artefact, and it tells you that the United States captured Saddam Huseein and disarmed him literally. How we fit that into the decision to go to war, we haven't gotten to that point yet."
One can empathise with Langdale's difficulty. How indeed does the pistol fit with the decision to go to war?
Which is where irony, or the former president's lack of it, kicks in. Hussein was found with the pistol as he crouched on all fours in his cave. But he offered no resistance to the Delta Forces and when they came to confiscate his gun they found that it was unloaded. It is safe to assume that the Bush library will not labour that point when it opens in 2013.