Where They Love George W. Bush and Bill Clinton
Albanians, in Albanian proper and in Kosovo, love America. Perhaps contradictorily, they also love George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, is probably the only city in the world with both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton boulevards.
Albanians love 42 for his support of the 11-week NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, which led to the Serbian military withdrawal from Kosovo and the placement of the province under United Nations administration, and 43 for supporting Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in February last year.
But now Kosovo Albanians have shown their special gratitude to Clinton — who is seen as the architect of the NATO bombing campaign — by erecting a giant, 10-foot tall, golden statue of the former U.S. President.
Clinton visited Pristina for the statue’s unveiling, but appeared slightly sheepish about the whole thing:
Bush got a similar hero’s welcome in Albania in June 2007, when he made an official visit there. The capital Tirana was festooned with American flags and huge posters of Bush’s face, in a style reminiscent of the city’s communist-era parades. It was strange to see the giant, concrete pyramid that had been built by Albanian’s former communist dictator Enver Hoxha as his tomb draped in red, white and blue.
Eight months later, Kosovo Albanians waved American flags and held aloft “We love America” signs during their independence celebrations.
All this was at a time when America wasn’t exactly the most popular kid on the global playground.
Kosovo (the ethnically Albanian parts, at least) and Albania are still probably the two most pro-American places in the world — they may even be more pro-American than America. At the very least, they’ve shown greater enthusiasm for America’s recent foreign escapades than the American people as a whole.
Albania, which recently got into NATO with U.S. backing, has been loyal supporter of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has sent hundreds of troops to the two conflicts. America was even able to use its leverage there to coerce the poor Balkan country into taking some of the prisoners — most of them Chinese Uyghurs — who they wanted to release from Guantanamo Bay but for various reasons couldn’t send to their home countries.
For the Bush administration, support from Kosovo and Albania, both majority Muslim, was seen as an important counterargument to allegations that America was waging a war on Islam.
But the new Clinton statue may be bad news for Bush. Kosovo was probably the only state in the world that might have erected a statue to him and it’s unlikely even they will adorn their streets with two giant statues of American presidents.
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