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Confession at Three Roads Blog
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Confession

It pains me to say it, but until I Googled ‘Canada’ this morning, I had no idea who the leader of that country was.

That’s messed up. For a well-educated white person who often makes idle threats to move there, it’s pretty sad that I don’t know who leads the country to our north. I feel even worse when I consider the fact that the entire world knows our president’s name and followed the election of Barack Obama with perhaps more fervency than the average American.

So Canada. Do you know?

Well, it’s Stephen Harper, and he’s been prime minister since 2006. Before Harper was a guy named Paul Martin. Before that, someone I actually remember—Jean Chretien. (Who was famously dubbed Jean “Poutine” by our president, who may know even less about Canada than I. Poutine, by the way, is Canada’s gift to the culinary arts: french fries with cheese curds and gravy. Mmmm.)

Anyway, the experience of not knowing Canada’s prime minister prompted me to compile a list of Countries Whose Leaders’ Names We Americans Really Ought to Know.

Mind you, many of these names I already knew—I’m not a complete ignoramus. But I thought I’d compile a handy cheat sheet for those who may blank on a name as I did.

Countries Whose Leaders’ Names We Americans Really Ought to Know
(As of November 2008)

IMPORTANT STRATEGIC ALLIES

Pakistan
- President Asif Ali Zardari*
- Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani

Israel
- President Shimon Peres
- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert*

Germany
- Chancellor Angela Merkel

France
- President Nicolas Sarkozy

United Kingdom
- Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Japan
- Prime Minister Taro Aso

India
- President Pratibha Patil
- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

COUNTRIES WITH SIGNIFICANT U.S. MILITARY PRESENCE
(How’s that for a euphemism?)

Iraq
- President Jalal Talabani
- Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki*

Afghanistan
- President Hamid Karzai

NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES

Mexico
- President Felipe Calderón

Canada
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper

COMPETITORS FOR GLOBAL ECONOMIC DOMINANCE

China
- President Hu Jintao*
- Premier Wen Jiabao

COUNTRIES THAT DON’T LIKE US SO MUCH

Venezuela
- President Hugo Chávez Frías

Iran
- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei*
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Cuba
- President Raúl Castro

North Korea
- Chairman of the National Defense Commission Kim Jong-il

Russia
- President Dmitry Medvedev
- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin*

COUNTRIES WHOSE GENERAL POPULATION HATES THE U.S.
DESPITE THE FRIENDLY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THEIR GOVERNMENT AND OURS

Saudi Arabia
- King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz
- Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz

Pakistan
Iraq

COUNTRIES WHOSE GENERAL POPULATION MIGHT LIKE US
IF IT WEREN’T FOR THEIR ANTI-U.S. LEADERSHIP

Cuba
Venezuela
Iran
North Korea

* Wields most power

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