Pournelle and Possony in an Albanian jail, 1967

Glimpsed on a blog:
"My favorite story that Jerry [Pournelle] told me about his adventurous life is the tale of his attempt to liberate communist Albania.

"Back in the mid-1960s, Jerry, his mentor Stefan Possony, and Leka, Pretender to the Throne of Albanian... started to organize an invasion of Albania by patriotic exiles to overthrow communist dictator Enver Hoxha.

"The larger strategic goal was to puncture the myth of communist inevitability by rolling back one country. Hoxha had alienated the Soviets by denouncing Khrushchev's 1956 policy of de-Stalinization. And he had earlier broken with Tito's Yugoslavia, making his nearest ally Red China. So, invading Albania wasn't likely to start WWIII.

"King Constantine II, last King of the Hellenes, lent them his summer palace in Corfu, from which the hills of Albania are visible, as their headquarters.

"Their sponsors in the U.S. government didn't want to be seen providing the crucial air cover needed to allow the invaders to cross the channel from Corfu. And without air cover, it would just be another Bay of Pigs.

"So Jerry and Co. persuaded King Hussein of Jordan, who owed a lot of favors to the U.S. and was amenable to liberating his fellow Muslims in Albania from the godless Communist tyranny, to promise his British-built air force would wipe out the 11-airplane Albanian air force on the ground in a surprise attack. Jerry thus spent a lot of time in Jordan training their pilots on how to pull off a sneak attack.

"Back in Corfu on June 5, 1967, Jerry was called to the radio to hear the news: the Israelis had pulled off their own sneak attack, wiping out the Egyptian air force, and in the subsequent fighting later that day destroyed most of the Jordanian air force.

"So, the liberation of Albania had to be called off.

"Decades later, Jerry met the President of Israel, Ezer Weizman, who had been Chief of Operations in the Six Day War. Jerry explained how Weizman had wrecked his invasion of Albania. Weizman exclaimed to the effect that: You were that foreigner who was training the Jordanians how to pull off a sneak attack? We thought you were a Russian training the Jordanians to attack us!"

Okay, so this sets the bullshit meter ringing about three different ways. (No wait, it's stopped ringing. But now smoke is coming out of it.) The most plausible explanation is simply that Pournelle was -- how to put this delicately -- not entirely accurate in his description of events. Note that Pournelle in 1967 was a thirtysomething minor academic. Stefan Possony was a much more famous character; he was an Austrian intellectual who'd become prominent as an anti-Communist academic and a ferocious Vietnam hawk. In 1967 he was probably near the peak of his influence; he'd written a very influential book and a number of articles on Vietnam, basically saying "more troops! more bombs! keep going!"

Still, neither of them were guys you'd want along on an invasion. (The idea of Pournelle "training their pilots on how to pull off a sneak attack" is particularly... interesting.)

From everything I can tell -- and I've looked -- nothing happened in or near Albania in the spring or summer of 1967. I'm very very skeptical that any invasion was actually planned.

But there might have been *something* going on. The junta of the Colonels had recently taken over in Greece, and various odd stuff was in the air. I could imagine a bunch of Albanian Royalist exiles camped on Corfu for a while, talking big and sometimes firing their guns in the air. Meanwhile Stefan Possony is doing some globetrotting, Pournelle bobbing in his wake, whipping up international support for killing! more! Commies! They're in Greece for a while, chatting with the new regime, and the Albanians make the connection. The American academics are given some very sweet talk in the hopes they'll get some funding somehow...

Well. For the heck of it, let's say there was something. And let's further say that something does come of it. (I agree this is a stretch.) By "something" I mean a small band of Royalists landing on the coast of Albania, raising the flag, issuing a proclamation, and promptly getting mowed down. Enver Hoxha was nothing if not paranoid, and his borders were carefully watched and well defended.

But let's say the Americans come along. (Oddly, I have little trouble
imagining this, at least for Pournelle. Possony seems to have been more sensibly careful of his skin -- he got out of Nazi Austria in a hurry -- but let's say they drag him along too.) Of, say, a hundred Royalists, half are killed, but half -- and the two Americans -- survive. Jerry Pournelle and Stefan Possony are soon sitting in an Albanian prison up near the Yugoslav border, in the shadow of the Accursed Mountains.

Now what?


Doug M.
 
Left to rot would be my first thought.

Far more pecuiliar, however, would be to take Pournelle at his word, and have a butterfly of a no Six Day War TL be a Royalist counter revolution in Albania.
 
The problem with that is, it's ASB territory. I couldn't believe it for a minute.

Hoxha's regime was in very solid control of the country, and the Royalists were pathetically weak.


Doug M.
 
Glimpsed on a blog:
"My favorite story that Jerry [Pournelle] told me about his adventurous life is the tale of his attempt to liberate communist Albania.

"Back in the mid-1960s, Jerry, his mentor Stefan Possony, and Leka, Pretender to the Throne of Albanian... started to organize an invasion of Albania by patriotic exiles to overthrow communist dictator Enver Hoxha.
Was he also hoping to bring in Fourth and Fifth Commando from Congo, not to mention various at-large former French Foreign Legionaries, and at the head of an army of romantic, reliable, reasonably priced mercenaries establish himself as ruler of the Dominion of Albania, from which he would save civilization?
 
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