Magazine article Foreign Policy

Thoughts on the Thinkers

Magazine article Foreign Policy

Thoughts on the Thinkers

Article excerpt

IT'S a TIME-TESTED rule of thumb: Make a list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers, and you'll get 1,000 opinions about the effort. If one judges by the reaction around the world to FOREIGN POLICY'S 2012 rankings, last year was no exception.

In the United States, fresh off its acrimonious presidential election, our inclusion of candidate Mitt Romney's running mate, Patti Ryan (No. 8), proved most controversial. The New Republic's Alec MacGillis argued that the Republican congressman has cultivated an undeserved "reputation as a big thinker" by tossing around "numbers and policy" that crumble upon inspection. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (himself No. 34 on our list) agreed, lamenting that Ryan's "con goes on." Esquire's Charles P. Pierce broadened the criticism to most of the conservatives on the list, noting that their ideas "have been tested in the real world over the past 20 years, and they have almost uniformly failed, usually in disastrous ways."

In China, meanwhile, the state-run Global Times quoted several experts noting that the list--which included Chinese dissidents Chen Guangcheng (No. 9) and Ai Weiwei (No. 26) "reflects us values." (We assume they don't mean that as a compliment.) To the west, Indian politician Lalu Prasad scoffed at FP's recognition of his political rival and the chief minister of Bihar state, Nitish Kumar (No. 77). "Such things are nothing but publicity materials far from truth," Prasad informed reporters.

Some focused on the order of the rankings--Pakistan's Dawn newspaper pointed out that 15-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai (No. …

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