Turtle Bay

Where did Kiir get his ten-gallon hat?

Former U.S. President George W. Bush hasn’t addressed the U.N. General Assembly in years, but his presence could still be felt at this year’s annual debate. When President Barack Obama declared that the "tide of war is receding" he was trying to mark a break with the Bush era, when the United States opened military ...

By , a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy.
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Former U.S. President George W. Bush hasn't addressed the U.N. General Assembly in years, but his presence could still be felt at this year's annual debate.

When President Barack Obama declared that the "tide of war is receding" he was trying to mark a break with the Bush era, when the United States opened military fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But Bush's presence could also be felt in an unexpected moment.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush hasn’t addressed the U.N. General Assembly in years, but his presence could still be felt at this year’s annual debate.

When President Barack Obama declared that the "tide of war is receding" he was trying to mark a break with the Bush era, when the United States opened military fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But Bush’s presence could also be felt in an unexpected moment.

When Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of the newly independent South Sudan, delivered his country’s first address before the U.N. General Assembly, he wore a giant Texan cowboy hat.

The hat was possibly a gift from Bush, who presented the South Sudanese liberation leader with a large cowboy hat in a 2006 visit to the White House. Apparently, Kiir liked it so much he purchased a couple of his own, according to source close to Kiir. The president’s attachment to the hat, which he often wears at U.N. events, may reflect his gratitude for Bush’s commitment to South Sudan’s independence and his administration’s role in brokering the landmark 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which set the stage for the country’s independence referendum in January.

Or he may just think it looks cool.

During his speech, Kiir expressed his "most sincere and profound gratitude to the entire international community for the warmth with which our state has been welcomed into" the world’s community of nations. "I would like to seize this opportunity once again to salute many of you who have stood with us during our long struggle. We are indebted to many friends in this great hall." And apparently, to some who were not at Turtle Bay this week.

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch is a senior staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @columlynch

More from Foreign Policy

The Taliban delegation leaves the hotel after meeting with representatives of Russia, China, the United States, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Qatar in Moscow on March 19.

China and the Taliban Begin Their Romance

Beijing has its eyes set on using Afghanistan as a strategic corridor once U.S. troops are out of the way.

An Afghan security member pours gasoline over a pile of seized drugs and alcoholic drinks

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Meth is even more profitable than heroin—and is turbocharging the insurgency.

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya addresses the U.N. Security Council from her office in Vilnius, Lithuania, on Sept. 4, 2020.

Belarus’s Unlikely New Leader

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya didn’t set out to challenge a brutal dictatorship.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid

What the Taliban Takeover Means for India

Kabul’s swift collapse leaves New Delhi with significant security concerns.