The Plaid Avenger

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No Hangover from this Party: 6-Party Talks Actually Working!!!

Shit yeah! Let's get this party started!Sweetness! I love a good party….and I love a great party even more! And when the party is the 6-Party Talks, well, I think you know that the Avenger is going to be getting his drink on… times 6!  To understand the plaid world in which we all co-habitate in my friends, you really must know what, or who, or where, the 6-Party is.  And the party just got it going on over the last weekend, with some very interesting results.  In fact, I have been partying in Pyongyang playing power ping-pong while getting my drink on with a Chinese panda named Ling-Long! Ha! Top that on a Labor Day weekend! So what the hell is this Korean party all about? Check it: 

US Says North Korea to End Nuclear Program

No Form Date to Take North Korea Off Terror List

North Korea Close to Being Struck from Terror List

One Less on the Axis of Evil?

N Korea Asks to Leave Axis of Evil, Cites “Creative Differences” (this is satire, but its good!)

So who the hell gets the invite to the 6-Party? I’m glad you asked.  The sweet 6 are the US, China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, and Japan.  And what’s the party all about? Just as easy to answer: the goal of the party is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by North   Korea attempting to build a nuclear program.  Nuclear bombs specifically, which of course always worries anybody in the world that doesn’t want to get fucking blown up.  And especially the countries that are right next door to North Korea which would be the first to be targeted.  And quite frankly, everybody and their Asian brother is worried about North Korea getting anything close to a nuclear warhead, since their country is run by a complete fucking lunatic. 

Former UPS employee of the month, Kim Il-Jong the great…I mean the delusional/

Which lunatic? That would be Kim Jong-il.  The freak. Not to be too harsh on the guy, but I generally refer to him as the Michael Jackson of the Korean peninsula.  He lives in a palace while his people starve to death, but is surrounded by military whackos and court jesters who tell him he’s a god and that everybody loves him.  Shit, the dude is totally clueless about reality….much like Jackson, he is just living in his isolated Neverland Ranch, propped up by admirers that tell him everything is great.  Unfortunately, Kim il-Jong’s ‘ranch’ happens to be a country, and he happens to be the head of it.  And Michael Jackson’s nose is real.  Just like his skin.  Yeah right. Fucking freaks the both of them.  But I digress as usual…

So the US, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and even China are not really keen on this goober or any of his military advisers acquiring nuclear weapons.  So much so that all the countries have been working in earnest for years to get this group of freaks to relinquish development of their nuclear program, pull their heads out of their asses, and join the rest of the real world.  The US has been so insistent about it that they put North Korea in their famous ‘Axis of Evil’ category along with Iraq and Iran.

'Axis of Evil' dissapating fast! Get your action figures soon!Of course Iraq is now off the list since its occupied by the US…. oh, and no weapons were actually found anyway. And now folks around the world are debating about what to do to Iran and their nuclear program.  But there really has never been any debate about the North Korea situation: everyone thinks they are nuts and all surrounding countries just want them to knock off with the damn shenanigans!  Too bad whacko North Korea! You are on your own! Not even China wants to put their neck out for those freaks.

And apparently that’s why the 6-Party talks are working. Everyone has been putting the heat on the Koreans to dismantle their nuclear program.  And it looks like it worked! The stories above reference that just last weekend the North Korean regime has agreed to not only stop production of nuclear materials, but to completely dismantle their program by the end of the year! Damn! That’s big news! But why would they nutty Northerners agree to this at this particular time? Why not earlier? Or why agree at all?

Here’s why: they suck.  The North Korean economy is non-existent. The people are starving to death, and winter is fast approaching which will result in many more folks starving to death. North Korea just got the shit kicked out of them by major floods all summer.  Their already meager crops are going to suck ass this year.  People are trying to literally haul ass out of the country by the thousands—it has gotten so bad in the last year that the Chinese have posted troops all over their border with North Korea to stem the tide of immigrants trying to get the hell out of there.  Seriously, the place is a total joke. And everyone in the leadership is starting to realize that they can’t keep this total sham of a country afloat for much longer. 

Call in Michael Jackson! Maybe he can lull the North Korean masses into submission by singing ‘Beat It’ a million times! Shit, the whole damn place already looks like a scene from the fucking ‘Thriller’ video.  Dude! I would pay serious money to see Kim il-Jong do the moonwalk!

But anyway, North Korea can no longer afford to piss off all its neighbors, especially when all those neighbors [as well as the US] are going to be providing them with all sorts of food aid, fuel aid, and financial aid as incentive to give up the nukes.  And the Plaid Avenger has always been convinced that the quest for nukes by the North Koreans has been simply about having a card to play in international politics…in other words a leveraging tool for the world to take the North Koreans seriously.  Now that the North Korean position is a total joke and the country is nearing collapse, giving up the nukes appears to be the only face-saving device which allows Kim and his funky bunch to get international assistance while keeping their rule—and the entire country—intact.

You’ll notice from the stories above that as soon as the 6-Party ended on Sunday, the North Koreans ran out to the press and announced that the US was normalizing relations with them, and taking them off the ‘Axis of Evil’/terrorist list.  What a bunch of boneheads! The US immediately renounced that claim, and has instead said that they will be working towards patching up relations with the Koreans, and possibly taking them off the ‘terror list’ once the nuclear plants are actually totally dismantled.  Shit! Those whack-ass North Koreans can’t even keep the story strait for 5 damn minutes.

BUT! Whatever the story is, it is a promising turn of events for the US, South Korea, Japan, and the entire world. Promising for the North Koreans because they will undoubtedly get shit tons of aid, just when they need it most.  Perhaps they will actually give up all efforts to make nukes. Perhaps the US will take them off the terror list. Perhaps the Korean peninsula will start a re-unification process if this goober regime opens up a little. Perhaps Michael Jackson and Kim il-Jong will become fast friends…and then lovers…  Who knows what the rosy future holds?

And repercussions outside the Korean peninsula? There are plenty, but only one worth mentioning, and it’s a doozie! And its also in the news on the same day, which compounds its importance!  What the smell am I referring to?  I’m talking about Iran, and how the 6-Party is going to cause a huge fucking hangover for them, even though they weren’t invited to the crib!  Dig this:

Iran Meets Key Target in Nuclear Program

Long story short, just as North Korea is renouncing nukes, Iran is bragging that they are fast developing them.  Damn! Its like those guys are absolutely determined to piss off the world!  I’ll deal with the Iranian nuke program later, but know this for now: with North Korea out of the picture, the ‘Axis of Evil’ is fast turning into the ‘Axis of One’ aka ‘the Only Evil One Left’.  Iran was already getting plenty of attention for its nuclear activities; with North Korea going legit, all eyes of the world will now be sternly focused of what the hell Iran is now going to do.  Shit! IS is getting hot in here or what?

So know this my fine American friends: know what the 6-Party is all about; know the Kim-il really is pretty ill—in his head; know that North Korea is going straight and may rejoin the rest of us here on planet earth soon.  And know why this is turning up the heat on Iran….

Party in Plaid in Pyongyang!

Japanese whacko gives Abe the finger…LITERALLY!

Picachu sez: people who cut off their fingers are fucking crazy!Holy Picachu pebbles!!!  Even Godzilla would shit himself over this one!  Some fucking lunatic in Japan cut off his little finger, made a DvD of the butchering, and then mailed the finger and the film to the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe!  What in the living hell is that all about?  Well, I’m glad you asked my friends because its actually a quite important issue in modern Japan right now, for reasons which are completely ignored in the US press…but you want to be smarter than that, so check these out:

Severed pinkie sent to LDP to protest Abe’s Yasukuni no-show

Japanese prime minister skips Yasukuni visit

No Yasukuni visit for Abe, Cabinet on WWII anniversary

What the hell is so important about a shrine that it causing international consternation, internal dissent, and insane people to chop off body parts?  Oh…cause its this particular shrine, perhaps the most controversial place for dead people on the planet:

Visit here to piss off Asians everywhere!Yasukuni Shrine (literally “peaceful nation shrine”) is a controversial Shinto shrine located in Tokyo that is dedicated to the spirits of soldiers who died fighting on behalf of the Japanese emperor. So what’s the problem? Every country honors its war dead, don’t they? The Yasukuni Shrine also honors a total of 1,068 convicted Japanese war criminals, including 14 executed Class A war criminals, a fact that has engendered protests in a number of neighboring countries who believe their presence indicates a failure on the part of Japan to fully atone for its military past.

Honorable dead, and war criminals abound!

The former Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi regularly visited the shrine throughout his long tenure, which consistently served to totally piss off China and South Korea . . .and perhaps even North Korea, but who knows since they are totally whack-ass insane. Why would a shrine visit piss off Korea and China you ask? Because prior to and during World War   II, Japan committed all manners of war atrocities in these two countries.  Hell, the Japanese essentially ran the entire country of Korea as a slave colony for over 40 years before they were defeated at the end of WWII. 

Japan fucked over lots of other countries too during their era of military aggression and expansion, but the Koreans and the Chinese suffered the worst, for the longest.  Therefore, it should not surprise you to hear that the leader of today’s Japan going to a shrine to honor dead soldiers really gets China and Korea all fired up.  It’s the equivalent of the Germans visiting a war shrine to pay respects to Hitler and the other Nazi war dead. Sound extreme? Yep. But I call ‘em like I see ‘em.  Can you even imagine Angela Merkel showing up to pay homage to Hitler at a cemetery?  Holy shit! She would be out of office faster than sauerkraut shit through a goose!

Honest Abe Shinzo: Just say 'no' to war shrines

And that brings us back to our story of the day: the current Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has decided to try to NOT piss off all of his neighbors, and has therefore declined to visit the shrine.  Why would he do that?  Because China and Korea are now economic powerhouses in their own right in today’s world, and Japan is not the only big boy in the neighborhood.  Abe wants to improve relations as best he can to hedge his bets for security in the future.  China is certainly fast becoming a global power on the order of the US…and while Japan has the US as its greatest ally, Abe figures that there is no real point in intentionally pissing off the Chinese on a regular basis. 

All sorts of trade and investment go back and forth between all these Asian economic juggernauts (yes, South Korea too—they will soon join the top 10 economies on the plant; Japan and China are already #2 and #4 respectively) and no one in the Japanese leadership wants to risk economic relations. Particularly since the rapidly growing Chinese middle class is quickly becoming Japan’s biggest consumer base for all sorts of great Japanese gadgets and useless shit—like cars and video games and Pokemon shit and DvD players so they can watch a Japanese guy cut off his own finger.  Oh yes! What about that freak?

WWII aggression

Back to the fingerless freak: not everyone in Japan puts economics or global security as their highest priority, and this dude is one such person. The Japanese are a very nationalist bunch—Japan first baby! Japan number one! Yeah! Picachu kicks ass!—as are lots of folks in lots of different countries.  But they do seem to take it a step further sometime…i.e. see World War Two. The dude who cut off his finger thinks the leadership is being weak and wussy by not being proud of Japan‘s past.  By the way, he is not totally alone either…lots of folks in Japan would espouse a belief in ethnic superiority to their Asian neighbors.  Sound like racism?  Yeah, it does to me too.  Its no coincidence that Japan is ethnically 99% Japanese people: they don’t really allow any immigration at all, so as to keep Japan purely Japanese.

But that’s why this shit is so fascinating in today’s world: because Japan has to change.  They don’t really have a choice.  Their declining population is forcing them to rethink their immigration policies, and the rise of their Asian neighbors is forcing them to rethink their diplomatic policies. 

And let me end with this little jewel that you otherwise wouldn’t hear about: Abe is trying to be particularly sensitive about this shrine issue, because he doesn’t want the Chinese and Koreans to feel threatened as he ramps up for the next big bombshell which is this: a big bombshell.  Huh? WTF? Did I double-type? Nope. Here’s the deal: Shinzo Abe has long been a proponent to scrap the clause in the Japanese constitution that prohibits Japan from having an army and offensive weapons…the Avenger believes that he is about to make concrete moves to chuck out that clause. 

Japanese military trading cards? No way! So gay!And Abe is savvy: he knows that this move will cause an uproar among those same Asian countries that get pissed when anyone visits that war shrine.  So he’s not visiting.  He wants to be in a position that he can tell the Chinese and Koreans: “Look, we are not re-arming to replay our military past, in fact, I’m really sorry about all that WWII shit, and I’m not even visiting the shrine anymore!”  Abe will say that Japan has to re-arm to counter the North Korean threat, as well as to be able to help the US in its global anti-terrorism war—which by the way he actually does really believe.  And it doesn’t hurt that the US is a HUGE fan of Japan re-arming, since it will provide a counter to the growth of Chinese power in the region.  But that’s a topic for another blog…..

I love sake bombs!Back to sake shots and sushi sliders. I have to ramp up for my next Pokemon battle. Picachu, don’t let me down you little bitch!


Reason #702,204 to learn Mandarin

Chen Yuan: the dude is probably worth more than 500 million other Chinese dudes…combined!

What is happening Plaid People! I am high above the Pacific (take puns as you wish)—returning from a crazy night in Beijing. I spent the past seven hours talking shop and dropping cocktails with one of the most powerful people on the planet, Chen Yuan.

Who, you ask, is that dude? Chen “C-Notes” Yuan is the Governor of the China Development Bank (CDB). The CDB is the largest bank in China and is, of course, state-owned. That means Mr. C-Notes is both a member of the Chinese Communist Government Elite AND the manager of a giant fucking bank fortune. We’re talking billions and billions!

And the CDB has recently been in the news, check this out:

That’s right, Mr C-Notes has grabbed a share in the British bank, Barclays. The commies are taking over the global banking system! But don’t fear—when it comes to profit, the Chinese would shit on Karl Marx’s grave to earn an extra 0.1% interest. The CDP has absolutely no intention on redistributing any of Barclay’s wealth to further the dream of a socialist utopia.

Anyway, the take home message from this news story is that the Chinese Government is beginning to flex its financial muscles as a global investor. This has two effects:

(1) it increases China‘s stake in the current financial system (what’s bad for the market is bad for China)

(2) it gives China increased power to effect the global financial system

The main worry is that China will use its share in private companies to influence foreign governments. For example, China can lobby the British government—through Barclays—to adopt pro-China policies. Or, China can threaten to sell off its large share of Barclay’s on the cheap to disrupt the British economy. Of course, if they did this, China‘s economy wouldn’t exactly be a winner in the deal.

The Plaid Avenger’s take, if anyone cares, is that corporations love money. They will do anything they can to maximize profit. It doesn’t matter if the main investors are Mid-Western White Americans or Han-Chinese Government Playboys.

I’ve got to cut this off—my Mile High Club Membership is in need of renewal. Party in Plaid!


Abe Aspires to Arm

Shinzo Abe:Watch out kids! Godzilla! Godzilla! Hello again my friends.  The Plaid Avenger is back again in full force to force you to focus on the foreseeable future of forces in Japan…military force that is. Perhaps you already know that Japan does not have a military. No army, no navy, no air force or marines….at least that’s what is says on paper.  Of course, our pacifist Pacific pals do have a bunch of dudes running around in uniforms, with guns, on planes, and in tanks.  So what jives Japan?  Take a look:

Abe facing battle over constitutional change
Japan marks 60th anniversary of postwar Constitution
Japan PM calls for defence review
Japan extends its military reach

Oh Abe, Abe, Abe, you are a busy bee! Not ‘Honest Abe’ Lincoln mind you, but Abe Shinzo the recently elected Japanese Prime Minister.  And the ‘recently –elected’ descriptor is important for you to know, because it means that he is going to be a player for a while on the global stage.  So know Abe, but more importantly for this blog, know that Abe wants some changes.  Constitutional changes to be precise…

Former Prime Minister Koizumi: Our main man Abe is actually guiding Japan in a new direction regionally as well, as he is making a concerted effort to warm the often frigid relations between Japan and China.  His predecessor Junichiro Koizumi, was a much more hawkish figure who regularly pissed off China and Korea by visiting the Yasukuni shrine—a war shrine honoring the Japanese dead from World War II, including soldiers and convicted war criminals who committed all manner of atrocities against the Koreans and the Chinese, among others.  It appears that Abe is not going to be visiting the shrine in an effort to not piss off everyone else in the region, but we shall pick up on that subject in a different blog.

However, while Koizumi and Abe have different approaches to shrine visits, they are of one mind on the military: they both want it back.  Want it back? What the hell does that mean Plaid Avenger? Where did they lose their military? Under a rock? In the Sea of Japan? Did Godzilla eat it? No, no, no…it’s nothing like that.  It’s more like this:

During World War II, Japan was on the bad guy team.  You know, the Nazis, Mussolini’s Italy, and the Japanese. What a bizarre grouping.  Anyway, as you should know, the bad guys lost WWII, and for Japan this meant occupation by the United States—since it was the US who conducted the entire War in the Pacific component of the fighting, and after we dropped a mega-shit ton of bombs across the country, followed up by a couple of atomic ones.  Lights out. Game over. US takes over.

Under direction of General Douglas MacArthur, the entire country was remodeled based on the ‘western’ example. The educational systems, banking systems, government systems, and for this discussion in particular: the constitution. The US basically wrote it, and told the Japanese leadership: “Okay, sign here on the dotted line.” So what? Why is this important for our discussion? Because in that constitution was placed a pacifist clause which prohibited Japan from ever having a military.  And they still don’t. And that is what Abe wants to change.

“But wait Plaid Avenger, I’ve seen pictures of army dudes, and Japanese naval vessels, and Japanese guys helping the US in Iraq—but mostly I’ve seen all sorts of Japanese armaments as they battled Godzilla in all those movies…so what gives?”  Excellent question!  What you have seen/are seeing is what’s called the Japanese Self-Defense Force—a group of guys with guns and toys that look a hell of a lot like a military, except for one thing: they don’t leave the country.  It’s supposed to be the equivalent of the National Guard in the US: there for emergencies and self-defense of the motherland if anyone were to ever invade.

However, this Self-Defense Force has been changing rapidly here lately. In 2004, a small contingent of this force was sent to help the US in Iraq.  That was the first time since WWII that any Japanese soldier was sent abroad.  Many people in Japan were outraged—how could such a move be justified as defending Japan? To be sure, it was mostly a move of political support for the US (I think only 19 Japanese guys actually went, but the US got to chalk up a whole other country to its list of supporters).  After all, Japan has to keep kissing the US’ ass since Uncle Sam is the real protector of Japan, specifically against any current threat from North Korea, and any possible future threat from China. 

And know this too: China, Korea, and many other Asian nations are not happy about Japan possibly re-arming, as they are still plenty pissed about WWII.  See…this is why you have to know your damn history people!

So on one side you have a lot of Japanese folks and surrounding countries who want to keep Japan as a pacifist state.  And on the other hand you have Abe and others in the leadership who now want to change the constitution to allow for a true defensive and offensive military, both for their security and to appease the US.  The US really wants Japan to re-arm, and is pushing hard for this. Why? Because the US wants to use the military might of a re-armed Japan as a counter-balance to the growth of Chinese power in the region.  It’s all such a delicious game of RISK, you know, the military game of dominance from Milton Bradley.  Check and check-mate!  Oh waiter, check please!

Oh wait, we have to stop and savor the historical irony here: the US is pushing hard for Japan to scrap part of its constitution that the US forced Japan to adopt 60 years ago. Ha! How hilarious!

Could you make this shit up if you tried?

We shall see how this plays out in the very near future.  The changing of a constitutional clause in Japan will cause considerable consternation in the Pacific.  Too true, too true.  Watch out! Godzilla may rise again!

It’s good to know who is Hu, but please know when to say Wen!

Wen: Kicking ass and taking names!Hello Plaid friends! Just got back from Beijing where I was being fitted for some custom-made plaid boxer-briefs.  You can’t get that kind of high quality shit here in the states, and when the measurements are taken by a team of Chinese hotties…well, let’s just say “me love China long time!”  And my Plaid brothers, let me give you a small piece of advice: boxer-briefs.  Not boxers. Not briefs. But boxer-briefs.  Ask any lady—they totally dig the boxer-briefs.  And in plaid? Watch out! You will be irresistible!

Anyway, after the marathon boxer-brief bonanza, I bumped into a bodacious brother that I feel all worldy-wise people should know about—Wen Jiabao. Who is the man in China? Yes, Hu is the man in China! But you need to know the Hu, what, where and Wen of China, and Wen is the subject of this rant. Wen? Now!

Premier Wen visits Japan

China ‘wants better Japan ties’

Chinese PM announces Ghana loan

China gives Cambodia $600m in aid

China PM lauds India agreements

Wen Jiabao is China’s Premier/Prime Minister, and easily one of the hardest working cats on the foreign relations front from anywhere on the damn Plaid planet. This guy is a serious Chinese ‘Johnny Hustle’ man!  He has been busting his ass for years touring the globe and wringing hands and striking deals from Brazil to Sudan to India to Australia.  Back the fuck up my friends, don’t get in this guy’s way, ‘cause he means business–literally!

The US Secretary of State Condelezza Rice is usually out touring middle eastern hotspots and old Cold War allies trying to put a positive spin on the current administrations debacles. Meanwhile, Wen Jiabao has been hitting every singe region and state on the planet cutting business, trade, and energy deals.  He also has been cementing strategic alliances, offering up aid and incentive packages for developing countries, and even firming up ties with old enemies (see story above on Japan). 

The contrast could not be more striking that that between Rice and Wen: when Rice shows up on scene, it’s usually to scowls and harsh questions; when Wen is in house, its usually all smiles!

As you are reading this, right this second, Wen is in Japan addressing the Japanese Diet.  No, he’s not talking about sushi and sake; the Diet is the equivalent of the US Congress—and he is the first Chinese Prime Minister to ever be invited to it for decades.  And what’s he talking about?  How China wants to firm up ties with their historic arch-enemy Japan…and the first thing he brings up is Japanese war atrocities during WWII!  Man, this guy’s got balls! 

And he commands respect too.  Some in Japan will condemn his remarks, but the current Japanese leadership (Shinzo Abe in particular) are going to continue to strengthen their relationship with Wen, Hu, and China in general.  He also is extremely adept at finding new friends in Latin America, in Africa, in the Middle East, and South Asia as well.  This dude has been everywhere in the last several years!  Simultaneously, the US admin’s main leaders have gone virtually nowhere…which is one of the reasons that so many places are finding it very easy to cozy up to China.  Latin America and Africa in particular are establishing all kinds of trade links and relationships with China…a situation which is perturbing the US greatly.

But how can you blame these regions/countries from hooking up with China? China‘s economy is exploding; China needs the raw materials and energy resources that many developing countries have to offer; China often offers no-strings-attached financial aid to developing countries; and China is seen as a growing world political power with increasing clout, but not as an imperial power which invades other countries.  Hmmmm…..who in the world would be seen in that light?

Wen has been cultivating these relationships all over the planet, courting countries large and small.  And with great success.  The fact that he is in office for life—or until the Chinese leadership wants him to go away—means that he will be active on the world stage for some time to come.  So know Wen, and know Wen well.

Premier Wen is the nizzle, the whizzle, the Chinese fra-schizzle!!!

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