Sunday, June 10, 2007

Names in the News: Bush, Albania, Mao (and Colin Powell)

Albania must be one of the oddest countries in the world. It was in the news today: twice, first in connection with George Bush's 8-hour visit to the Balkan republic, and second in relation to a story about several Chinese former prisoners at the US facility in Guantanamo, Cuba, who are now living in Tirana, Albania's capital.

Why odd? Well first, it's probably the only place in the world, outside of the Bush homesteads in Texas and maybe Maine, where Bush is popular. News reports about the US president's brief sojourn there are replete with nauseatingly gushing accounts of sycophantic groveling of the country's president, political leadership, and if the stories are to be believed, people. According to the New York Times, this enthusiasm apparently predates Bush, includes Clinton, and began with Woodrow Wilson who prevented the country's partition during the First World War. (Bush was in Albania to promote its entry into NATO along with independence for Kosovo).

Yet one wonder's if that really explains it: the oddness that is. During its rather pitiful masquerade as a "socialist" republic the Albanians were equally enthused, at least at the "leadership" level with China, Mao and Maoism. They were also very oddly enthused with themselves. This writer remembers one story, where a Communist Party USA leader returned visibly shaken from a meeting with them in New York in the 1970s. When asked what happened, he said, "It was terrible: they kept me in a room and for five hours tried to convince me that Albania was the center of the world revolutionary process."

It's unknown if such delusions of grandeur still grip Albania's leadership. However, the China connection still shadows, if from the opposite political and ideological direction. Albania, a majority Muslim country, has become home to several Muslims from China, who apparently had spent some time in Afghanistan learning the tricks of the trade, tricks taught by the way, by none other than their CIA interrogators at Guantanamo. Albania has granted them political asylum at the request of the Bush administration. The potential new Albania citizens, however, appear to be victims of not very hospitable treatment in Tirana and have requested to be sent elsewhere. However, despite earnest efforts by Bush and company, no one wants them, except the Chinese authorities, who are expected to charge them with terrorism. But Bush refuses to send them there and the group is reluctant indeed to go.

Guantanamo was also in the news twice, today, in connection with the above, and also because Colin Powell this morning called for closing the prison camp, like yesterday.

--joe sims


Anonymous said...

Joe's Comments on Albania hit many nails on the head. Albania lived in personality cults and delusions which made it a very backward socialist country and an embarrassment to the great majority of Communists in the world(outside of the PRC in the 1960s and early 1970s, but not later). Giving Bush a "hero's welcome" should be an embarrassment to all except ultraright administration supporters.
Since Mao(who was a major positive figure in the Chinese revolution and modern history was halled as "The Great Helmsman" during the Great Proletarian Cultural revolution, maybe the Albanians can hail Bush as "The Great Oil Man" in the Great Capitalist Counter-Cultural Counter-Revolution."
Maybe Bush after he leaves office can start a baseball team in Tirana and try to get his rich Texas oil buddies to fund it, as friends and family connections funded his Texas Rangers baseball activities. At least we now know a place where he will be welcomed with open arms.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention that anynonomous is me, Norman Markowitz, because I can't comment directly, not because I won't use my name for GW.
Also, Joe made very good points about the gang whom the Chinese consider terrorists and whom Bush has sent to Albania. Before the Russian revolution, some capitalist countries, the Austro Hungarian empire for example, found it politically and economically valuable to literally export certain prisoners to Czarist Russian Siberia, to get them far away and have them imprisoned at a price that was cheaper than what it would cost at home. I know a man whose father had been in that category and became a Communist because of his experiences in Czarist Russian Siberian jails(he had come originally from Vienna) Perhaps Bush, who is always living in the past, plans to use Albania for similar purposes.
Norman markowitz