The larger strategic goal was to puncture the myth of communist inevitability

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

I don’t know how I missed this story by Steve Sailer about sci-fi author and polymath Jerry Pournelle:

Back in the mid-1960s, Jerry, his mentor Stefan Possony, and Leka, Pretender to the Throne of Albanian — who, by the way, is seven feet tall — 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!

Ben Espen mentioned the story in his review of Pournelle’s first novel, Red Heroin, a thriller written under the pen name Wade Curtis.


  1. As Steve says, he isn’t completely sure this is a true story, but even if it isn’t, it’s a hell of a tall tale!

    My estimate of the veracity of this story went up after reading Red Heroin, as it seemed that Jerry was applying first-hand knowledge. On the other hand, Jerry was a smart guy who knew a lot of people, so maybe he just did the same thing that Tom Clancy did for The Hunt for Red October and obsessed about details in a way that made it look like he had insider knowledge.

  2. The Gaffer says:

    Hell, yes, Clancy had help with Red October. The sub folks at the Pentagon wanted a good budget campaign, and Clancy was willing to help.

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