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Majored in Western Hypocrisy

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"From the number of cannibal village chiefs with Oxford or Harvard degrees, I'd say someone better investigate what they teach in law school."
Recon 5

This trope refers to Western (often Oxbridge or Ivy League) educated foreign characters who are encountered by Westerners. Whether heroic or evil, a typical plot is for them to either be assumed to be an "ignorant native" or else use Obfuscating Stupidity as a Fauxreigner before revealing their education to Western characters.

Also frequent is a comment to the effect that while they gained skills from this education, something they experienced added to their revulsion for the West, whether it was unpleasant aspects of Western culture in general or the fact that the Westerners were racist toward the character (the latter is especially common in works taking place in time periods when racism was more openly acceptable).

This is Truth in Television to a great degree: many great universities were never racially segregated, and foreigners of the most exotic varieties were welcome to attend them, though in practice few ever did. Those who did tend to be among the wealthiest and/or most talented from their homelands — the ones who were more or less destined for greatness when they returned home.

May employ a Completely Unnecessary Translator. When a white American does the opposite of this, that's Mighty Whitey. See also You Are a Credit to Your Race, when a character gets condescendingly congratulated for their contributions to civilization. Compare We Have Those, Too, for another way someone who assumes a certain level of cultural superiority might embarrass themselves.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Area 88 manga, Asranian prince Saki Vashtar was educated in London. In spite of this (or because of it), Saki is very suspicious of western powers seeking to take advantage of Asran's civil war. He also opposes Asran selling its oil rights to foreign powers, even though it could drastically improve the standard of living of the Asranian people.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in the Keith Giffen era of the Justice League. The noble savages of Kooey Kooey Kooey send a promising son to the mainland to learn at Oxford — because they want to modernize the island. They embrace Western Culture as soon as possible.
  • The Flash: Lawrence in the Rogues' "New Year's Evil" story is the demon-summoning nephew of a modern-day Asian warlord and has an Oxford education.
  • A Nigerian warlord in Green Arrow who calls his gang "The Whites":
    Oga: For centuries you have stolen everything from us — our land, our bodies, our diamonds and gold, our coffee, even our chocolate. In response I ate up all your strategies, your imperialist privilege — studying at Oxford, at Princeton — and brought them home as my weapon. Call it an exercise in cultural appropriation. So yes, we are the Whites. We are the pillagers, the blood-starved neo-colonialists. And you know what? We're winning. Your way works.
  • Black Panther:
    • The titular / T'Challa is the King of Wakanda, a historically secretive African nation, but studied abroad in his youth and earned a Ph.D. in Physics from Oxford. Wakanda also happens to be one of the most advanced societies on the planet, with a history of demolishing anyone who mistakes them for an easy target.
    • Erik Killmonger is even worse in this regard as he wants to return Wakanda to its old way, but he was raised in America and graduated from MIT.
  • Fantastic Four: Doctor Doom, the son of a doctor and a sorceress, hailed from the impoverished Central European nation of Latveria. He traveled to and began an education in the United States — being a classmate of one Reed Richards — before returning to his home country and conquering it using his vast knowledge of science and magic. This is slightly subverted in that he never completed said education. The "Doctor" in his name is entirely self-bestowed.
  • Christopher Priest's quasi-villainous Black Panther Captain Ersatz in Deathstroke (Rebirth) and Justice League (Rebirth), the Red Lion, went to the UK's Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. (Truth in Television, The Other Wiki's page of notable Sandhurst alumni includes so many foreign dignitaries it has to separate the "Royalty" section by country.)
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In "The Deadly Dust" (Zoot Comics #11), Rulah battles Zandu, a native dictator, who boasts of having been "educated at the white man's school" and uses western military techniques to subjugate his fellow Africans, whom he regards as primitive savages.
  • Taken one step further in an issue of G.I. Joe Special Missions where the Joes are tasked with escorting the crown prince of "Equatorial Kalingaland" from his Cambridge lectures to back home. They expect to find a young man who studies there, but he is revealed to be middle-aged and he teaches at Cambridge. Western Literature, specifically.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • James Bond:
    • Die Another Day: The Trope Namer. What's even funnier about the line is that Colonel Moon speaks it with an air of someone who sees the Western world and its inhabitants as completely beneath him (Truth in Television as this is the cultural attitude of North Korea). Adding to his hypocrisy is his collection of Western-imported sports cars, a British girlfriend in the form of Miranda Frost, and his undergoing plastic surgery that transforms him into a British playboy with the intent of furthering his scheme of destroying the land mines in the demilitarized zone so that North Korea can retake South Korea. That the reason he received an education in the West in the first place was that his father wanted him to be a bridge between the West and North Korea makes it a bit sad.
      Colonel Moon: I know all about the UN. I studied at Oxford and Harvard. Majored in Western hypocrisy.
    • An earlier, and heroic, example in The Living Daylights, Bond and the villain's ex-girlfriend Kara are locked up in a Russian jail in Afghanistan next to an unfortunate Afghan peasant scheduled to be shot for getting too close to the base. They help each other escape and when Bond and Kara are nearly captured and killed by the Mujahideen, the Afghan resistance, the peasant speaks up for them...and soon after reveals that he is actually Kamran Shah, the deputy leader of the resistance in the region, and an Oxford-educated Cultured Badass.
      Shah: Please forgive the theatricals, it's a hangover from my Oxford days.
    • Also used in The World Is Not Enough by Bond himself. When impersonating a Russian scientist on Renard's team, Dr. Christmas Jones compliments his control of English. His response (in Russian): "I studied at Oxford" (which his real identity did). It's just passable enough to avoid immediate scrutiny, but Dr. Jones figures out he's an imposter and later confronts him...prompting Renard and his men to start a shootout before detonating their bomb.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Chattar Lal, prime minister to the Maharaja of Pankot, attended Oxford.
  • Martin Scorsese's Kundun averts this. The Dalai Lama learns several languages and gets an education in Western culture and is interested in modern technology like cars, radios, photographs, and movies, however, he is raised within a traditional milieu at the Potala Palace in Lhasa.
  • Night at the Museum: Ahkmenrah, though, of course, he couldn't have actually studied there — instead, his knowledge comes from being kept in the Cambridge Egyptology department.
  • In The Mask of Fu Manchu, it is mentioned that Fu Manchu has a doctorate of philosophy from Edinburgh, a doctorate in law from Christ's College, and a doctorate in medicine from Harvard.
    My friends, out of courtesy, call me Doctor.
  • Dr. Kengh Lee of the Chinese insurgents in Battle Beneath The Earth studied in Western universities, and is kind enough to compliment them. Then he returns to work on destroying the United States with atom bombs.
  • In Lord of War Yuri takes a moment to quickly mention that African warlord Andre Baptiste (who will kill at a moment's notice and defends practices like using Child Soldiers) is Western educated.
  • In Tora! Tora! Tora!, the trope is inverted: Admiral Yamamoto studied at Harvard and served as a liaison officer in Washington. He warns that the Americans are proud and just.
  • Jane And The Lost City, based on the Fanservice-heavy British comic strip and set in Africa during World War II, has the main characters get captured by the "Leopard Queen", a half-naked female African tribal ruler. When Jane punches her out, the up-till-then silent Leopard Queen suddenly starts talking — and reveals that she not only understands English but styles herself as an Englishwoman, proper accent and all.
  • In The Bridge on the River Kwai, Colonel Saito studied at London Polytechnic before the war. He notes that he originally wanted to be an artist, but after finding his artistic skills lacking switched to engineering instead while also hoping to help Japan's military endeavors with the latter in the future. He brings up this bit of his personal history to Lt. Colonel Nicholson while preparing a meal of corned beef and scotch (the latter of which he claims to prefer to sake), implying that he developed his taste for these staples of British cuisine there.
  • A deleted scene from Iron Man has the Persian-descended Yinsen mention how he was backgammon champion at Cambridge. Tony Stark, an MIT grad, scoffs at the mention of the place and subtly implies that he taught there once.
  • In Carry On Up the Khyber, the Khasi of Kalabar makes a point of mentioning that he was educated at Oxford. Because it's a Carry On... film, this only comes up because of a discussion of Casual Kink.

  • A famous Russian joke from the Soviet era:
    Two cannibal tribes established an alliance and conquered a third. As the victorious chiefs feast on their defeated counterpart, they have the following conversation:
    Cannibal chief 1: Not very tasty.
    Cannibal chief 2: Yep. Stringy too.
    Cannibal chief 1: *chewing* Still better than what we had to eat at the Lumumba University refectory.

    (For reference, the Patrice Lumumba University — renamed as the Peoples' Friendship University of Russia after the Cold War in Moscow and specializes in educating foreigners, often from developing countries.)

  • James Bond series:
    • The Lithuanian Julius Gorner from Devil May Care studied in England after fighting with Soviets in World War II, and developed an obsession for the country in the process.
    • Tiger Tanaka from You Only Live Twice studied in Oxford, and used as means to spy on Brits.
  • Fu Manchu is one of the earliest examples.
  • Axis of Time: The monstrous Hideki.
  • Jingo by Terry Pratchett: 71-Hour Ahmed plays up his foreignness, but was educated at the Assassin's Guild, the closest thing to a posh British public school on the Disc. He plays up his Morporkian education in Klatch, for pretty much the same reason he plays up the Klatchian stereotype in Ankh-Morpork.
  • Flashman and the Tiger: Flashman encounters the son of a Rupert of Hentzau Expy who describes public schools as having conditions worse than Siberia but helping to toughen him up to take on Englishmen; also, there is a character in Flashman's Lady who is an English-educated Barbary pirate.
  • Babar may be a colonial allegory, with the Elephant King representing Western-educated leaders who are looked upon favorably by European powers (in this case France).
  • Evelyn Waugh's novel Black Mischief has the Emperor Seth of the fictional African country Azania, who includes among his numerous titles a bachelor of arts degree at Oxford. The character is an interesting combination of strawman liberal, Well-Intentioned Extremist, and Tragic Hero.
  • Frederick Forsyth's novel The Dogs of War is kind of on the Unfortunate Implications side, as there is an Oxbridge-educated African leader who is one of the few honorable African characters in the book, with both sides of a civil war being portrayed as a bunch of savages. He represents a third group of people and eventually takes power, allowing for a somewhat optimistic ending.
  • Subverted and dissected by John Steinbeck in East of Eden. Lee is a graduate of UC Berkeley and a California native speaking fluent English, although he plays the role of an Asian Speekee Engrish much of the time. However, he is firm in his belief that he is ultimately an American, not Chinese, having found himself to be even more of a stranger in China than in the United States.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne has Captain Nemo. Whether a Polish nobleman or an Indian prince, he is definitely steeped in Western culture. Ironically enough, the same culture he is at war with.
    Annorax: You're an engineer, then, Captain Nemo?
    Nemo: Yes, professor. I studied in London, Paris, and New York back in the days when I was a resident of the Earth's continents.
  • Invoked in Dorothy L. Sayers' Have His Carcase. When Lord Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane, and the local policeman all hear a story revolving around an Indian rajah who supposedly did not know about banknotes, the policeman objects: what sort of Indian rajah would not know about banknotes? Why, many of them had been educated at Oxford.
  • Doctor Dolittle series: Crown Prince Bumppo of the African nation of Jolliginki. Of course, while he likes studying at Oxford (except for math, which he hates, and the silly European habit of wearing those ghastly shoes all the time) it has mostly succeeded in turning him into an Upper-Class Twit and an Ethnic Scrappy.
  • Tir Ram, the ruler of a fictional Indian state in the Doctor Who New Adventures Sherlock Holmes crossover All-Consuming Fire.
    Holmes: I am honoured to meet your Highness. May I compliment you upon your excellent grasp of our clumsy tongue.
    Tir Ram: I was at Eton and Cambridge, Mr Holmes. I even speak Hindi with an accent now.
  • Lord Darcy novel A Study in Sorcery:
    • Some Native American warriors deliver a note to the Angevin camp by tying it to an arrow fired into the officers' tent. The attached message ends with the signature of a tribal leader, Laughs-Last, complete with the initials for his Oxbridge-awarded graduate degree.
    • Lord Darcy meets a woman who has invented a dramatic past for herself that includes a stint in the harem of the son of the Osmanli Sultan; in the course of dissecting her story, he mentions that he and the son of the Osmanli Sultan were at Oxford together.
  • Kingy in The Mockery Bird by Gerald Durrell.
  • In Oxford Days by Paul West, he analyses this trope and questions the message Hollywood is trying to give us by having the typical minority Oxbridge graduate portrayed as a villain.
  • The chief of the threatened jungle tribe in Lloyd Alexander's The El Dorado Adventure is an Oxford graduate, and the tribe's fearsomely-named "warring clans" turn out to be cricket teams.
  • A heroic example in Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen series. Rescued from the sea while unconscious (the rest of his ship's crew choose death), Lieutenant Tamatsu Shinya of the Imperial Japanese Navy pretends to be ignorant of his captors' language. However, he understands them perfectly, having studied at Berkeley before the war. After finally revealing his fluency in English, he immediately offers his services to the crew of the Walker until such time as they return to our world. Indeed, he proves to be a loyal and valuable officer, eventually becoming a general in The Alliance. His education (compared to most of the Walker crew) is also what allows him to recognize the religious language of the Lemurians as Latin. He is the first to establish communication with them.
  • The Gilded Wolves: It's not so much the hypocrisy part of it, but several of the main cast are from the Global South (in this period mostly colonised by various European empires) and studying various disciplines in Europe: Laila's from British-colonial India at a time when few Indians (let alone women) would have the opportunity to study abroad, and Enrique is actually a Filipino ilustrado (intellectual), involved with other compatriots in Europe campaigning for expanded rights from the Spanish colonisers, as happened in Real Life. Séverin, meanwhile, has Algerian ancestry, whilst Hypnos has Haitian (and thus African slave) ancestry; in other words, both of them have bloodlines rooted in French colonies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Referenced in Blackadder III. After the Prince has a drunken night with the Duke of Wellington's nieces, he considers fleeing as far as Mongolia to avoid the Duke's revenge. Blackadder points out that the Duke is a close personal friend of the Chief Mongol. "They were at Eton together."
  • An episode of Jeeves and Wooster where Bertie blacks up and attempts caveman-speak to impersonate a visiting African chief is saved from cringeworthiness when the real chief shows up and turns out to have been educated in England and be better-spoken than Bertie.
  • M*A*S*H: This happened a few times, generally with the Korean/Chinese/whichever doctor getting the better of obnoxious racist Frank Burns. One of them had even gone to Colonel Blake's alma mater.
  • Usutu makes a fool of Matt Parkman in Heroes. Which doubles as Hollywood Psych since Jung isn't taken any more seriously than Freud by modern psychologists.
    Usutu: You must find your totem — a spirit guide that attaches to your subconscious. It will lead you on your journey.
    Parkman: What is that, some, uh... African mystical mojo thing?
    Usutu: Carl Jung, Analytical Psychology. You don't read much, do you?
  • On That '70s Show, there's a one-off gag where Fez states this is basically his goal as exchange student: to take what he's learned in America, return to his homeland, and "RULE WITH AN IRON FIST!"
  • Yes, Minister: A humorous version was used where Hacker sees a news story on the new dictator of an African country and immediately recognizes him as a school friend who also attended the London School of Economics — prestigious but not quite Oxbridge. Given that the show is on the cynical side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism, the (admittedly amusing) casual racism of the British characters is complemented by the obvious corruption of the African dictator, who neatly outsmarts them by essentially beating them at their own crooked game.
    • The Remake has the Kumranistan Ambassador, who was at Oxford with Sir Humphrey, and before that went to Harrow. He's actually mildly amused by Western hypocrisy, especially when the PM gets outraged at differences between British and Kumranistani morality.
  • Referenced in The Young Ones. When the train the lads are taking to the BBC studios to film University Challenge is held up by Mexican bandits, the train driver notes that he didn't want to be a train driver, but without going to an Oxbridge school, he didn't have many career prospects. According to him, 98% of the KGB went to British public schools.
  • Madam Secretary: Crown Prince Yusuf of Bahrain went to boarding school in the United States, and unusually for this trope it actually took — he plans to democratize Bahrain once he inherits the throne. Unfortunately he's assassinated at the end of his only episode after ordering a Bahraini diplomat tried for human trafficking.

  • Spoofed by The Goon Show in the episode "The Gold Plate Robbery": Visiting Morocco, Neddie Seagoon meets an Arab nomad who went to college in Cambridge and speaks English like a native — with a broad Cockney accent.

  • Tom Stoppard’s Night and Day is set in the fictional African nation of Kambawi, whose dictator, President Mageeba, is adept at dealing with westerners thanks to his education.
    Mageeba: I have very happy memories of London. Student days, you know. I learned everything about economic theory. It has proved a great handicap.
  • In Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited, Utopia's crown princess Zara has been studying at Girtonnote  for five years. She returns to her Anglophilic homeland with several English advisers in tow and a plan to remodel Utopian society in England's image.
    Video Games 
  • In Tropico, one possible background for El Presidente is to have graduated from Harvard U, afterward coming back to lead a Caribbean island.

    Web Original 
  • Subeta's Matlal is actually an example of this, but he TALKS IN ALL CAPS, STUPID PIG DOGS, doesn't wear a shirt, and breeds poisonous frogs, because it's what people expect of a Witch Doctor.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of The Wild Thornberrys, the Thornberrys encounter a tribe of natives who were planning on cooking and eating a runaway Darwin. When Nigel tried to apologize and explain that Darwin was their pet, the chieftain revealed that he knew how to speak English thanks to language tapes. The chief then picks up a call from his friends on his cell phone and tells them that they won't be eating Darwin, so they'll just drive into town for steak.
  • The Simpsons: In "Much Apu About Nothing", Apu tells the Simpsons that he originally emigrated to the US to study computer science at the Springfield Heights Institute of Technology.

    Real Life 
  • One doesn't really have to go to independence movements to see signs of this trope. It's been noted that the Indian Mutiny of 1857, seen by Indians today as the true beginning of Indian nationalism, was actually started by ex-mercenaries who served the East India Company, and who had themselves worked with the English, without protest, to conquer and colonize the Sindh and the Punjab. Karl Marx, writing in London for the New York Daily Tribune, explained and defined this trope, with his typical grasp of Irony:
    "There is something in human history like retribution; and it is a rule of historical retribution that its instrument be forged not by the offended, but by the offender himself. The first blow dealt the French monarch proceeded from the nobility, not from the peasants. The Indian revolt does not commence with the Ryots, tortured, dishonored, and stripped naked by the British, but with the Sepoys, clad, fed, petted, fatted and pampered by them."
  • On this note, many revolutionaries in former colonies qualify. Some were essentially the scions of wealthy local families sent to the metropole for the best education money could buy, but more than a few later came from more modest middle-class backgrounds, who were able to afford a Western education or were the beneficiaries of it in their homelands. Many of the later generation drew on the anti-colonialist ideas inherent in communist critiques of capitalism and were inspired by Lenin's success in Russia to form their own communist secret societies, dedicated to the overthrow of imperial authority and the establishment of their own revolutionary regimes in their homelands.
    • More or less every revolution against colonial powers in the last three centuries was started by a small group of highly Western-educated native countrymen. Bonus points if they were educated in France. The leaders of the Negritude movement in France's colonies, the Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist and U. of Northern Colorado alum Sayyid Qutb, Sun Yat-Sen, founder of Modern China and the Kuomintang, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, influential figures in the Chinese Communist Party, studied in France in their youth.
    • As far as the Indian nationalist movement goes, after the crushing of the Indian Mutiny, the British Raj actually supported the development of the Indian National Congress, because they saw it as a way to moderate and control future revolts. Indeed, they encouraged the spread of English education and ideas among the elite. As such many of the future leaders of India and Pakistan studied at Oxford and Cambridge, including ex-barrister Mahatma Gandhi. India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had an upbringing and outlook that was so painfully British he described himself as "the last Englishman to rule India."
    • Ho Chi Minh is an interesting example. As a youth, he worked in France, the United States, and the United Kingdom as a dishwasher, but managed to pick up an education on the side. During the Versailles Conference, he scored a face-to-face meeting with US President Woodrow Wilson and lobbied him to push for decolonization. During World War II, Ho's Communists fought against the Japanese and attempted to get the US on their side; although they managed to only attract token support from the Allies, Franklin D. Roosevelt was at the very least sympathetic to the idea of Indochina gaining independence from France (especially since he hated the only leader of France whom the Allies recognized at the time). Shortly after the Japanese occupation ended, Ho cited both the United States Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen in his own declaration of independence for Vietnam.
    • Doubly true in the Philippines, since that country's been under Western colonial rule for so long that it naturally developed a tradition of sending its local elites to study in elite schools or universities in the colonies' metropoles.
      • The local term ilustrado (literally, the Spanish for "enlightened"), in fact, is used as a blanket term for those foreign-educated local elites, many of whom, upon finishing their studies in Spain and often elsewhere in Europe too, started demanding political reforms from the Spanish colonial government—and when ignored by Spain, later became the Philippines' revolutionary and independence leaders, and their name roster reads like a who's-who of many would-be national heroes: Juan and Antonio Luna, Isabelo de los Reyes, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce, Graciano Lopez-Jaena and so on).
      • Even centuries before this, the occasional indio (native) would get the lucky chance of studying in a Catholic seminary and going to Spain to visit the King and clergy, and maybe even the Pope, in the days of the galleons. (This was also true in fact for other Catholicised Asians like Japanese, Chinese or Vietnamese: they'd study in the seminary at Manila, and continue their theological studies in Spain and possibly in the Vatican too.)
      • The U.S. colonial empire that took over from Spain continued the practice of educating local elites in elite schools in the colonial homeland; this time in the Ivy Leagues and other top-ranked American universities (it even had a name: the "Pensionado Program"). A new generation of Filipino colonial-era leaders earned their chops in American colleges and universities, like Supreme Court justices José Abad Santos, and Cayetano Arellano, among others. Even female leaders, scientists, and professionals got their start this way, like Dr Fe del Mundo (first woman and Asian to study at Harvard Medical School), chemist Maria Y. Orosa (inventor of banana catsup), and Dayang Tarhata Kiram (a Sulu princess). A notable subset involves Filipino cadets admitted to West Point for their military training, like Gen. Vicente Lim, one of the first Filipino West Point graduates, and a later World War II hero who died fighting the Japanese occupiers (he's mainly remembered as one of the three faces on the 1000-peso banknote in Philippine currency—at least until recently, when they got replaced with a shot of a Philippine eagle).
      • Some Filipino Socialist intellectuals even went to early Soviet Russia to study in the 1930s.
      • World War II-era Philippine President José P. Laurel was an admirer of Japan for becoming a regional powernote , to the point that he sent his children to study there. There were also a handful of other pensionados sent to study in Japan as scholars of the occupation government similar to the way American-era pensionados were sent to the US mainland.
  • Pol Pot was educated in France and lived in Berlin prior to his return home to Cambodia. His bizarre philosophy was, more or less, a Frankenstein patchwork of the things he picked up in Western universities and in Cambodia's jungles. He was just one of a whole group of young Cambodians who converted to Marxism while studying in Paris and eventually formed the nucleus of the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot was actually one of the lesser-educated ones but rose to leadership because of his ability to hold a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits together). Eventually, the Khmer Rouge was toppled by...Communist Vietnam.
  • Radovan Karadžić, leader of the Bosnian Serb Army and convicted war criminal, went to Columbia. Vojislav Šešelj, a leader of Serbian paramilitaries in Bosnia, taught in American universities for a few years in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Mohammad Javad Zarif, foreign minister of Iran, went to San Francisco State University for his bachelor's and master's degrees, and the University of Denver for his Ph.D.. He also earned his high school diploma at a U.S. school, Drew Preparatory School. According to his UD professors, he was a very good student.
  • Former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani earned a Ph.D. in international law from Glasgow Caledonian University.
  • Charles Taylor, genocidal leader of Liberia, went to Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  • This is far Older Than Feudalism, arguably Older Than Dirt, and can also easily apply to non-Western civilizations (or at least cultures preceding "European" as we understand the term). So many examples: from Arminius (who grew up in a very Roman background and served in the Roman military) who led the Germanic tribes to victory in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest to many Manchu tribes who immigrated into China and later adopted many local dynasties' culture only to conquer the very dynasties they adopted so much cultural and technological knowledge from to many ancient Greek politicians (who often spent a part of their lives in other city-states and adopting their culture, if not outright growing up in them) who would lead conquests across Greece.
  • Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku, commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy, studied at Harvard (in addition to the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy).
    • One of his officers, Admiral Chūichi Nagumo, spent several years as part of a Japanese mission studying naval tactics in the United Kingdom and the United States between the world wars. Not at all surprising when one recalls that the Anglo-Japanese alliance was only dropped in the early '20s and that both empires had received some measure of US assistance in the latter part of their War against Germany.
    • Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō, The Nelson of the East (who expressed the belief that he actually was the reincarnation of Horatio Nelson), was part of the first batch of Japanese cadets sent to study the art of naval war in Britain. He studied in Britain or on British ships for seven years (graduating second in his class, above many British cadets) before returning as an officer on the Hiei, the newest British-built vessel of the Imperial Navy.
    • In fact, it's been said that this was the genesis of Imperial Japan. Post-Meiji Restoration, the nascent imperial government embarked on an ambitious program of Westernization to avoid subjugation by Western powers, consciously adopting practices deemed to be most suitable for Japan's situation. Their government was based on the German model, which allowed for limited democracy under an emperor guided by oligarchic interests. Their navy went from the French jeune école doctrinenote  to the Kantai Kessen doctrine based on the theories of American naval theorist Alfred Thayer Mahan,note  while their army reflected an eclectic mix of French, Prussian, and (highly romanticized) Japanese traditions. They also took to European imperialism, ostensibly fulfilling a similar civilizing purpose; in reality, this mainly worked to feed their industrializing economy.
  • Jose Marti (a Cuban revolutionary from the late 19th century) once said of the US, where he got his education, "I know the monster, because I have lived in its lair."
  • Dr Sun Yat-sen, one of Republican China's founding fathers, was extensively educated in the United States, and also studied quite a bit in England and Japan during his formative years.
  • Afghan Communist leader Hafizullah Amin earned an M.Ed.note  from Columbia University.
  • Hussein Farrah Aidid, son of the notorious Somali warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid, emigrated to the United States when he was 17. He graduated from an American high school and later joined the Marine Corps. In an ironic twist, he came back to Somalia as a part of Operation Restore Hope since he was apparently the only person in the entire United States Marine Corps who spoke Somali. After his father died, he inherited his position and served as warlord/"President of Somalia" until 2007, when he was sacked after being demoted several times by the Ethiopian-led interim government and defected to Eritrea.
  • In Peter Ustinov's autobiography Dear Me, he talks about going to school with the son of Count Joachim von Ribbentrop, who was Nazi Germany's ambassador to Britain.
  • The Chinese Self-Strengthening Movement of the late 1800's believed that China should study and adopt Western economics and military technology while retaining Chinese culture. In theory, the combination of superior Western technology with "superior" Chinese culture would allow China to equal and later surpass the Western powers.
  • Kim Jong-un studied at an international school in Switzerland as did his brothers. It should be noted that his elder brothers were being groomed to follow in their father's footsteps but neither one wanted the job (and another fled in exile after he was caught sneaking into Tokyo Disneyland). Jong-un would have probably had a much lower government position if either one of them accepted the dictatorship.
  • Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, studied to be an eye doctor in England. He wasn't even expected to become the next president (essentially an inherited position there), but his elder brother died and he was recalled. His wife and inner circle speak English.
  • The Free Coloreds of Saint Domingue (what we now know as Haiti) often spent their formative years being educated in France. Not only were French schools better, there just plain weren't any schools in the colony. Naturally, when The French Revolution broke out, there was a well-educated nonwhite elite in Saint Domingue that was up-to-date with all the talk of "equality" and "freedom", and quite rightfully offended at the increasingly racist laws back in Saint Domingue. Thus the Haitian Revolution.
  • Robert Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe from 1980-2017, was educated at the University of London and South Africa's University of Fort Hare. His relationship with Zimbabwe's former colonial power Britain was described as "love-hate".
  • In general, members of the Eastern Bloc political elite could often choose to study in the US or Western Europe (of course, with the ulterior motive of developing contacts that would be used by the state for espionage and other activities), which was outright forbidden for commoners. Lesser communist party officials could complete their education at Eastern but still relatively prestigious locations such as Moscow, Berlin or Beijing, while common people could only get to such places by virtue of "good behavior" or being talented and were otherwise restricted to studying in their own country (and often even then they weren't accepted at the best universities the country could offer without ties).