All great empires crumble, like Greece, Rome or the Baldwin acting dynasty. This fact-checked historical fact isn't lost on America, a modern empire that enjoys unprecedented global economic and military superiority... for now. The US has a lot going for it, like Hot Pockets, VH1 and 7,000 tactical nuclear warheads. But while America is mega-awesome, it is also plagued by an $8 trillion deficit, an army stretched to the breaking point and a bitterly divided Congress. Bummer, America! Now, several other countries are poised to snag the title of "International Big Dog" from the reigning champ, so we've compiled an "it" list of the contenders. Only time-and World War III-will tell!
What's the 411? Communist China is a leading economic powerhouse with a steady 9% annual growth rate. Wow, that's a lot of cheap crap at Wal-Mart for stupid dumpling-shaped round-eyes to buy! Luckily, China is also underwriting America's war in Iraq and has a population of roughly 473 billion.
Fun Fact: China invented gunpowder, noodles and socially engineered famines
Likes: US treasury bonds, mass executions, body harvesting, North Korea
Dislikes: Taiwanese independence, Democracy, Opium War jokes, more than one baby
Chances It Will Take Over The World: Awash in both money and people, China is building up it's military strength while staring down the coming bird flu pandemic. Look for the Chinese to begin their global assault by catapulting infected citizens over the Taiwan Straits and right into that uppity chunk of former Chinese real estate! Not to mention that, according to some pretty sweet movies, the Chinese can fly!
What's the 411? For over twenty-five years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been funding terrorists, illegally developing nukes and generally talking smack to anyone that gets all up in its grill. If having a real bad attitude were loot, they'd be high rollers.
Fun Fact: Iran is a theocracy, so religious fanatics control the government-like Alabama, only without delicious pork BBQ.
Likes: Uranium, Syria, burning the American flag, being all crazy and stuff like that
Dislikes: Israel, the CIA, the Great Satan, Israel, diplomacy, Scorpios, Israel
Chances It Will Take Over The World: Iranian President Ahmadinejad is a real joker, especially when he said publicly that the Holocaust didn't exist! Ha-ha! It's that kind of terrifying humor, along with Iran's secret nuke program, that makes us laugh and laugh, then cry. Hey, did you hear the one about how the Shah, the crooked US-backed puppet dictator of Iran, didn't exist?
What's the 411? India is the largest democracy in the world, and while it's a little rough around the edges (there are still leper colonies!), it's a country that excels at being better at everything we thought we were good at, like speaking English and most jobs. It's also a place where Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs can all ignore the poor together.
Fun Fact: India is the world's oldest continuous civilization. Think about that next time you're berating the 7-11 clerk because your blueberry Slurpee is all "soupy, man."
Likes: The Internet, Ben Kingsley, saag paneer, spontaneous singing and dancing
Dislikes: Hamburgers, Pakistan, low castes, American liberal arts majors with bad henna tattoos
Chances It Will Take Over The World: India is a full-fledged nuclear power whose chief rival is nearby third-world paradise Pakistan, a country with a handful of its own discount nukes. Thankfully, Indian missile defense is just shooting whatever Pakistani yaks have A-bombs strapped to their backs. That's funny until millions die!
What's the 411? Canada is a political progressive's wet dream: free healthcare, lax drug laws, improv comedy and snowboarding as far as the eye can see. So if you're a transgender Marxist from Vermont whose hybrid car is decorated in anti-Bush bumper stickers , you're in luck! No one expects mellow, good-natured Canada-a vast, sparsely populated country most people just call "North Michigan"-to have totalitarian ambitions. But maybe that's what just what they're hoping.
Fun Fact: Canada was founded after France bet England who could create the friendliest country ever.
Likes: French fries and gravy, hockey and gravy, Rick Moranis, Molson, curling
Dislikes: Snow cones, Quebec, palm trees, lumberjack jokes, Dan Akroyd (post-My Girl)
Chances It Will Take Over The World: It isn't wise to underestimate a country like Canada-it is a sleeping snow bunny ready to wiggle it's fearsome pink nose and sell American oldsters affordable prescription drugs. Tread on this noble and formidable country at your peril, eh!