In the latter half of the 20th century, Albania was what North Korea is today: the most repressed, backward, socialist country on earth. The liberation of eastern Europe brought, perhaps, greater change to Albania than any other country. Its government, once a bitter enemy of the United States, is now friendly and grateful to this country. In today’s Washington Times, Albania’s ambassador to the U.S., Fatos Tarifa, explains why his country has contributed 120 well-trained fighting men to the allied effort in Iraq: “Albania stands with U.S. in Iraq”:
Albania is probably the most pro-American country on Earth. It showed its support of the United States early, when it initially sent 70 commandos to join the Coalition of the Willing’s effort to bring peace, stability and free elections to Iraq.
Why does Albania do this when it could have avoided President Bush’s call for support, or when it could have dropped out as others have done when the going got tough? The answer is not difficult to find. If you believe in freedom, you believe in fighting for it. If you believe in fighting for freedom, you believe in America.
Unlike people in other countries in Europe and elsewhere, the Albanian people have not forgotten what it is like to live under tyranny and repression. The Albanians for more than 40 years were held in thrall by the repressive forces of the communists, living like prisoners without rights in their own country. It was to the United States that freedom-loving Albanians looked for inspiration during those dark years, and the Americans have not let us down.
There are cemeteries throughout Europe — in France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — containing the remains of American soldiers who died in battle to free Europe in two world wars. Although it is not fashionable to talk about it, the face of Europe would indeed be much different today were it not for the Americans who died storming the Normandy beaches. Were it not for the Americans, there is a good chance there would be no France, nor a United Kingdom nor a Belgium, as we know them today. Were it not for the United States it also is very possible no Balkan countries would be free.
Upon committing Albania to the Coalition of the Willing, Prime Minister Nano urged his fellow European leaders to visit Normandy “to see for themselves what the United States has been willing to undertake in the name of freedom. We should all visit Normandy. We should pay homage to those brave Americans who stormed ashore at Omaha Beach and gave their lives for the freedom of others. The wonder of it is that the Americans are willing to do it again,” Mr. Nano said.
The difference between the United States and the Islamic terrorists is this: The terrorists export death. The Americans export freedom.
A mere twenty-five years ago, no one imagined that Albania, of all countries, would one day be supporting America’s fight against tyranny. Well, Ronald Reagan might have imagined it. But he was about the only one. My guess is we won’t have to wait twenty-five years before Iraq, too, joins in the fight to liberate other nations from tyranny.