23
March
2017

The most interesting countries that never existed

Summary

Politicians sometimes jumble their words and, before you know it, whole new countries appear. Politics professor Robert Hazan and writer Mark Cox present some true zingers.

1. The Polish minister and ‘San Escobar’
Pity poor Witold Waszczykowski, the Polish foreign minister, who recently made waves after speaking to local reporters. He claimed to be holding talks with dozens of countries, “such as Belize or San Escobar.” Which is impressive, since San Escobar is not a country. Inevitably, someone soon created a Twitter account and a fictitious flag for the non-existent nation, and hilarity ensued.

2. John Kerry praises ‘Kyrzakhstan’

You know how a cross-breed of a Labrador and poodle makes a Labradoodle? Well, sometimes the same thing can happen with countries. It’s still not clear whether, in 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry was referring to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, but what actually came out of his mouth was “Kyrzakhstan.” Which really isn’t anywhere at all.

3. Herman Cain and…what, exactly?

When the eccentric Republican presidential candidate was asked in 2012 how he’d deal with “gotcha” questions about foreign policy, he didn’t even attempt to hit the mark. “And when they ask me who is the president of Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan I’m going to say, you know, I don’t know. Do you know?”

4. Donald Trump’s ‘ZANY’ pronunciation.

Last year, President Trump spoke about the east African country Tanzania, which is pronounced “Tan-zu-KNEE-uh.” But not on this occasion. Trump instead referred to “Tan-ZANY-uh,” which sounds like a cross between a sci-fi future city and the fictional home of a Sesame Street character.

5. President George W. Bush and the “Pakis”

Sometimes it’s not the country, but the people who live there, that causes the difficulty. In 2002, President Bush landed himself in all kinds of trouble during a Pakistan trip by referring to the local population not as “Pakistanis” but “Pakis” – regarded as an offensive term throughout Asia and Europe.

Robert Hazan, chair of the Political Science Department, is an expert on world affairs with an emphasis on the developing world.

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