When it comes to the world's most powerful people, President Vladimir Putin ranks ahead of Bill Gates, Pope Benedict XVI, and US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The Forbes list ranked 71 of the “world’s most powerful people” – or to put it another way, one person for every 100 million of the 7.1 billion people on the planet.
In order to be considered for the power list, a person must exhibit the following four criteria: 1. power over lots of people; 2. financial resources at one's command; 3. does the person actively use their power and 4.is the candidate powerful in multiple spheres?
Considering the Forbes headquarters is in New York City it should come as no surprise that US President Barack Obama emerged as the world’s most powerful person – for the second year running.
“Obama was the decisive winner of the 2012 U.S. presidential election, and now he gets four more years to push his agenda,” Forbes explained. Then, with no loss of triumphalism, it argued “Obama remains the unquestioned commander in chief of the world’s greatest military, and head of its sole economic and cultural superpower.”
While not denying Obama his first-place nomination, some may question how he ranked so high at a time when the US economy is in a shambles. Corporate profits remain robust, although this is largely due to the artificial stimulus of Fed-generated dollars. Meanwhile, the US employment outlook remains bleak at best. At the same time, as far as Obama “using his power” goes, the majority of his first-term campaign promises (closing Guantanamo Bay detention facility, for example) have gone unfulfilled.
Meanwhile, in explaining Putin’s third-place ranking, Forbes introduced the Russian leader as “the ex-KGB strongman – who controls a nuclear-tipped army, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves.”
The American business magazine – ignoring Putin’s numerous initiatives to bring Russia back from its Soviet grave – said the Russian leader “scored points because he so frequently shows his strength — like when he jails protestors.”
Well, if that is really true, then why was the same rationale not given for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who ranked second among the global movers and shakers? After all, Germany, as well as the majority of western countries, has shown a marked tendency for putting protesters behind bars.
In May, for example, police in Frankfurt arrested more than 400 people as thousands of "Blockupy Frankfurt" protesters assembled in Germany's financial center. Hundreds of others were reportedly injured in the melee.
Meanwhile, in September, about one thousand people gathered in New York City to mark the first year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The result? The police hauled 146 of the participants off to jail.
Moreover, and more disturbing, Obama further demonstrated his willingness to “use his power” when he signed the controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which allows the US military to indefinitely detain American citizens without charge or trial. The Obama administration has appealed a decision to halt the draconian law.
In conclusion, Forbes admits that “any ranking of the world’s most powerful people is going to be subjective, so we don’t pretend ours is definitive. It’s meant to be the beginning of a conversation, not the final word.”
Perhaps a good way to start such a conversation – at least as far as Forbes rationale behind Putin’s ranking goes – is why the West does not employ the same standards on itself as it does for Russia?