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Is Putin the Most Powerful Man in the World?
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According to Forbes, yes he is, for the third time in a row.

most-powerful-people-2015

A natural question would be – how on Earth do you actually quantify such things? Forbes relies on an index consisting of a political/demographic component (control over people), a financial component (wealth), prominence in various spheres (e.g. automative, space, financial, etc.), and whether they actually used their power.

Even so, is it really plausible for Merkel to be ahead of Obama? For semi-retired Bill Gates to be ahead of virtually all other national leaders? For the Pope to be ahead of Xi Jinping? (Stalin’s jibes about how many divisions the Pope has regardless, I really don’t see how the leader of an emerging superpower could be less powerful than a media celebrity priest).

Perhaps a slightly more interesting and legitimate way of calculating individual power would be to calculate what share any one person has over the “power” of his country or countries. (The reason for this is that, like it or not – and rhetoric about globalization to the contrary – the nation-state remains far and away the most dominant actor on the international stage. Even if you think that lobbying groups, corporations or even the Illuminati rule the roost, nation-states are still the vectors by which they exercise their influence).

According to my estimates of comprehensive national power (CNP) for 2015, the leading country is the US, set to 100, followed by China (52), Russia (28), UK/France (both 20), India (18), Japan (17), and Germany (15).

Does this mean that Obama and Xi Jinping are more powerful than Putin? Not necessarily.

Putin, arguably, has far more relative power over Russia than either of them. In particular, both Obama and Xi Jinping are subject to a two term limit (even if they are enforced very differently). Putin’s two term limit is a mere formality. Although Putin has to satisfy some key interest groups, and as a fairly intelligent person consults widely with experts and opinion polls, he still has an astounding degree of leeway over Russian policy. In contrast, the position of the General Secretary in the Chinese Politburo has been characterized as merely “first amongst equals.” Any US President needs to contend for power with the other branches of government, first and foremost, the legislature. This makes him even less relatively powerful.

So if we posit that, say, Putin “controls” 75% of power in Russia, versus 40% for Xi Jinping and 20% for Obama – this is just about plausible, I think – then the Forbes ranking would be confirmed. But it is impossible to imagine how Merkel could conceivably take second place. That is just the recent media furore making itself felt on Forbes’ pages.

 
• Category: Miscellaneous • Tags: Human Achievement, Power, Vladimir Putin 
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  1. Vendetta says:

    I suppose theyde counting Merkel as the de facto Queen of the European Union.

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  2. Sean says:

    But it is impossible to imagine how Merkel could conceivably take second place.

    She ought to be in first place . Merkel decided to do what she did though she could have done differently, while Putin hardly had a choice in anything he did. No country can afford to sit on its hands while danger approaches through its back yard. The US had no choice but to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala, or attack Nicaragua through a proxy mercenary force, or support mass murder in El Salvador, any more than Putin or anyone leading Russia could sit still as they lost relative power.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/why-john-j-mearsheimer-is-right-about-some-things/308839/
    Tragedy begins with a forceful denial of perpetual peace in favor of perpetual struggle, with great powers primed for offense, because they can never be sure how much military capacity they will need in order to survive over the long run. Because every state is forever insecure, Mearsheimer counsels, the internal nature of a state is less important as a factor in its international behavior than we think. “Great powers are like billiard balls that vary only in size,” he intones. In other words, Mearsheimer is not one to be especially impressed by a state simply because it is a democracy. As he asserts early on, “Whether China is democratic and deeply enmeshed in the global economy or autocratic and autarkic will have little effect on its behavior, because democracies care about security as much as non-democracies do.” [...] (… Mearsheimer is not making moral judgments. He is merely describing how states interact in an anarchic world.)

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    • Replies: @MarkinLA
    The US had no choice but to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala, or attack Nicaragua through a proxy mercenary force, or support mass murder in El Salvador

    Really, are you taking the piss? Comparing stuff going on in impoverished third world countries that have to get all their weapons from somewhere else to threats from industrialized countries with significant military forces? Now, thanks to Reagan we have all those central American "refugees" who never left and the endless chain migration and gang problems it brought. What was worse for the US and it's citizens, some banana republic calling itself socialist or taking in all these low IQ perpetual welfare recipients and tax drains.
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  3. Sean says:

    Rupert Murdoch, his enduring influence over British elections recently confirmed, surely has more power than Larry Page. If it was all out war between them and Murdoch turned his dogs loose to destroy Page (‘monstering’ is the British Murdoch press jargon for destroying a targeted public figure), Page would quickly become the most vilified person on earth and likely end up on the streets with a tin cup–or in prison (tax evasion). But then Murdoch is absent from these and similar lists because he has real power.

    Yellin apparently has no power to raise interest rates that enable big banks to leverage for massive profits, whatever the country’s economy needs.

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  4. Yevardian says:

    Something about the Chinese.. since Deng Xiaoping they’ve all kept a remarkably low profile considering their weight. Do heads of Government have more or less control over their countries since WW1? Hard to say.

    The ‘oldest, youngest, women’ categories are rather telling also.

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  5. MarkinLA says:
    @Sean

    But it is impossible to imagine how Merkel could conceivably take second place.
     
    She ought to be in first place . Merkel decided to do what she did though she could have done differently, while Putin hardly had a choice in anything he did. No country can afford to sit on its hands while danger approaches through its back yard. The US had no choice but to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala, or attack Nicaragua through a proxy mercenary force, or support mass murder in El Salvador, any more than Putin or anyone leading Russia could sit still as they lost relative power.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/why-john-j-mearsheimer-is-right-about-some-things/308839/
    Tragedy begins with a forceful denial of perpetual peace in favor of perpetual struggle, with great powers primed for offense, because they can never be sure how much military capacity they will need in order to survive over the long run. Because every state is forever insecure, Mearsheimer counsels, the internal nature of a state is less important as a factor in its international behavior than we think. “Great powers are like billiard balls that vary only in size,” he intones. In other words, Mearsheimer is not one to be especially impressed by a state simply because it is a democracy. As he asserts early on, “Whether China is democratic and deeply enmeshed in the global economy or autocratic and autarkic will have little effect on its behavior, because democracies care about security as much as non-democracies do.” [...] (... Mearsheimer is not making moral judgments. He is merely describing how states interact in an anarchic world.)
     

    The US had no choice but to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala, or attack Nicaragua through a proxy mercenary force, or support mass murder in El Salvador

    Really, are you taking the piss? Comparing stuff going on in impoverished third world countries that have to get all their weapons from somewhere else to threats from industrialized countries with significant military forces? Now, thanks to Reagan we have all those central American “refugees” who never left and the endless chain migration and gang problems it brought. What was worse for the US and it’s citizens, some banana republic calling itself socialist or taking in all these low IQ perpetual welfare recipients and tax drains.

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  6. Dan. says:

    Far from it.

    Putin is neither a “chess master”, a good strategist and he even lacks a long-term strategy. He merely reacts to aggression and provocation by the US as in Ukraine in the minimum possible manner to secure immediate interests (naval base in Crimea) without realizing long-term goals like the re-unification of the Russian world that would include Novorossya, or he doesn’t react at all as with the US shooting down 7K9268. The CIA profilers got Putin 100 % right.

    The Forbes more powerful list is a joke similar to the Noble Prize and the big bad powerful Putin vs “weak” Obama is a twisted narrative pushed on purpose in order to present Russia as the aggressor when in fact Russia is only defending…and not always successfully.

    It’s quite telling how much out of touch with reality this list is when it has Merkel above Obama, when Merkel is a mere puppet and facilitator of US policy in Europe who receives orders from and is answerable to the White House.

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    • Agree: Stephen R. Diamond
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  7. Bliss says:

    According to my estimates of comprehensive national power (CNP) for 2015, the leading country is the US, set to 100, followed by China (52), Russia (28), UK/France (both 20), India (18), Japan (17), and Germany (15).

    According to me the national rankings (based on power to influence global events) go like this:

    America
    China
    Russia
    Israel
    EU

    So the most powerful individuals in the world are the leaders of these entities…

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  8. Bliss says:

    The most powerful axis in the world is obviously the Anglosphere (US, UK, Canada etc) + EU (minus UK) + Israel + Japan, Germany and South Korea (wealthy industrial powerhouses).

    The China + Russia axis is the only challenger to the hegemony of the currently dominant axis.

    Potential challenger to both axes, with religious power, large and growing numbers, strategic geographical location and asymmetrical warfare (aka terrorism) is the muslim world (ranging from Morocco to Malaysia).

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