71. RAND PAUL
For telling America to come home.
Senator | Washington
In the years since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Republican Party’s base has grown increasingly wary of engagement overseas — to the point where Republican primary voters in 2012 were split straight down the middle about whether the United States should intervene in world affairs whenever America’s interests are challenged. And since 2010, when he rode the Tea Party wave to Washington, Rand Paul has quickly emerged as the standard-bearer for his party’s noninterventionist wing. The freshman senator from Kentucky — son of libertarian leader Ron Paul, the congressman who waved the come-home-America flag as an also-ran in this year’s Republican presidential primaries — has called for a “foreign policy of moderation” that “works within the confines of the Constitution and the realities of our fiscal crisis.” He has also argued that a “more defensive foreign policy” is in the long-term interest of a Republican Party whose support is increasingly concentrated in the American South. “I think that would go over much better in New England than the typical ‘we have to bomb everybody tomorrow’ policy that you hear some Republicans have.”
In practice, these views have translated into opposition to the Patriot Act, military intervention in Libya, aggressive rhetoric against Iran, and increases in defense spending. This year, Paul also held up a government-funding bill and several ambassadorial confirmations in an effort to cut foreign aid to Egypt, Libya, and Pakistan. “We send billions of taxpayer dollars abroad and what do we get in return?” he asked in September after the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. “Disrespect, disdain and, ultimately, violence.” Plenty of Americans are starting to agree.
72. SRI MULYANI INDRAWATI
For making the Indonesian Miracle, and taking it international.
Managing director, World Bank | Washington
As Indonesia’s finance minister from 2005 to 2010, Sri Mulyani Indrawati won high praise for tough-minded reforms — from dismissing corrupt tax officials to nearly quadrupling the roll of income-tax payers — that helped the country of 250 million beat back the global financial crisis with annual growth rates averaging 6 percent. Now that she’s a managing director at the World Bank (and its most senior woman), Sri Mulyani is peddling her wares to the rest of the world, offering advice on economic growth for those countries hoping to replicate the Indonesian miracle.
Her prescription is simple: sensible fiscal cutbacks plus policies that encourage growth — the tried-and-true methods of breaking down barriers to trade, investment, and innovation. At a March speech in Beijing, for instance, she cautioned that China’s rise could be in jeopardy unless it allowed more, and more equal, competition. In a bit of role reversal for an official from a former Dutch colony, Sri Mulyani has also dispensed words of wisdom to debt-saddled Europe: Countries like Greece and Spain should get their balance sheets in order and then worry about building up their economies, she says — but the two go hand in hand. Call it the Indonesian model.
Sri Mulyani has good reason to put her country on a pedestal: Indonesia has the world’s third-fastest-growing consumer base after China and India, and it is predicted to surpass the likes of Britain and Germany to become the world’s seventh-largest economy by 2030. So forget the BRICS, she says, and find a way to put another “I” on the list of the world’s most successful emerging economies.
73. WANG JISI
For telling us what China really thinks about America.
Dean, School of International Studies, Peking University | China
The foreign policy of the world’s No. 2 superpower remains a bit of a mystery. Chinese leaders rarely elaborate or take questions in news conferences, instead offering canned statements to Communist Party propaganda outlets such as the People’s Daily. And lower-ranking Chinese officials and think-tank experts are far more constrained in their ability to explain what’s really going on than their voluble U.S. counterparts.
That’s why Wang Jisi, China’s most respected expert on the United States, is so crucial to understanding what Chinese leaders think about the world. A gifted writer and the former director of the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Central Party School, the most prestigious training institution for Communist Party officials, Wang has both the ability and, crucially, the permission to demystify Chinese views. What does Wang want us to know? That the feel-good stories U.S. officials tell themselves about China’s global ascent are an elaborate form of denial. In an influential monograph co-authored by Brookings Institution senior fellow Kenneth Lieberthal, Wang this year described China’s actions on the world stage as rooted in the conclusion that “America will seek to constrain or even upset China’s rise.” Beijing’s view, he says, is that the United States is “heading for decline” and that China’s development model provides an “alternative to Western democracy and market economies.” The result? “[T]hese views make many Chinese political elites suspect that it is the United States,” Wang says, “that is ‘on the wrong side of history.'”
74. RAJ CHETTY
For following the numbers — wherever they lead.
Economist | Cambridge, Mass.
How much is a good fourth-grade teacher worth? Enough to pack an extra apple with your kid’s lunch? Or maybe a nice gift for the holidays? How about $700,000? That figure, it turns out, is the amount of extra income the students of an average-sized U.S. classroom, combined, can earn over their lifetimes thanks to a good fourth-grade teacher. If that sounds excessive, Raj Chetty, a Harvard University economist, has the numbers to back it up — just one of this 33-year-old’s pioneering, empirical discoveries in his short career so far.
The Indian-American Chetty, who earned tenure at Harvard at the tender age of 29 and is a winner of a MacArthur “genius” grant this year, has been bucking the conventional economic wisdom since he was an undergraduate, also at Harvard. As a sophomore, he caught the eye of legendary economist Martin Feldstein (No. 52) by proposing a counterintuitive reason that companies might increase investment under higher interest rates; Feldstein told Chetty to quit working for him and instead pursue his own research. Since then, Chetty — driven by the simple impulse for “math to guide the intuition, not for the intuition to guide the math,” as he has put it — has managed to overturn various age-old assumptions and ensure his place at the center of the U.S. policy debate over everything from unemployment benefits (they’re not necessarily a crutch — they give people time to find well-suited jobs) to tax breaks (one of their most important qualities, it turns out, is that beneficiaries actually know how they work). With an already hefty list of findings like these, Chetty is at the forefront of the growing field of behavioral public finance, using hard data to track how economic policy affects individual behavior and social welfare. It may sound simple, but, as Feldstein once put it, most economists today are “happy to take the data as they find it.” That’s just what makes Chetty’s novel, truth-testing experiments, in Feldstein’s words, “ingenious.”
75. ASGHAR FARHADI
For his eloquent case for coexistence.
Filmmaker | Iran
Weeks after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called Israel a “cancer tumor” in the latest rhetorical salvo of hatred from the leaders of the Islamic Republic, Asghar Farhadi presented a decidedly different portrait of their country. Accepting the Academy Award for best foreign film in a gilded Hollywood theater, he spoke of peace and tolerance, reminding tens of millions of viewers worldwide that “at the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”
Farhadi’s carefully chosen words avoided outright criticism of the Iranian regime. (And for good reason: Fellow Iranian director Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and banned from filmmaking for 20 years after speaking out in support of Iran’s 2009 opposition protests.) Yet, precisely by sidestepping the overtly political — by depicting “the way that millions of normal people live in Iran today,” as the lead actor put it — Farhadi’s Oscar-winning film, A Separation, reminded us how art can transcend nationalism. The story of a Tehran couple’s split — which arises from a clash over how to raise their daughter but blows up after a violent incident, setting off a complex legal imbroglio — had decidedly Iranian trappings, broaching questions about Islam and the treatment of women. At its core, though, the film’s appeal proved universal. In a year when Iran and Israel seemed to grow more aggressive by the day, Farhadi elegantly articulated the basic shared humanity of peoples across borders, even on the brink of war.
76. ADELA NAVARRO BELLO
For telling the world about the drug war’s brutal reality.
Journalist | Mexico
The reports from Mexico are all too familiar: another journalist who has been killed, the latest victim of that country’s protracted drug war. The means are as grisly as they are varied, but the reason is nearly always the same — a willingness to report on cartel violence and corruption in the Mexican government. As a result, self-censorship has become rampant among journalists across Mexico, but Adela Navarro Bello is a striking exception. The editor of the Tijuana weekly Zeta, Navarro leads one of the few remaining publications that prides itself on investigative work into the drug war and the associated miasma of corruption and incompetence. For Navarro and her staff, the stakes could hardly be higher. In 1988, the magazine’s co-founder, Héctor Félix Miranda, was shot and killed, and in 2004, co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was murdered. Since 2006, when President Felipe Calderón came to office and unleashed the official campaign against the country’s cartels, at least 40 Mexican journalists have been murdered or disappeared in a conflict that has killed at least 50,000 — more than the number of American combat deaths in the Vietnam War. Navarro’s magazine practices a kind of journalism both essential and extremely dangerous — she’s following the money. “They say Chapo Guzmán [Mexico’s most powerful cartel boss] is worth a billion dollars,” she said in a recent interview. “Where is that money? Where are their investments?” In Navarro, who travels with two bodyguards, Mexicans have found a rare reporter brave enough to keep asking the right questions.
77. NITISH KUMAR
For turning around India’s poorest state.
Chief minister, Bihar | India
Like Haiti, Somalia, and Mississippi, India’s Bihar state has been called many unflattering names; it’s often referred to as the country’s “bleakest state” and the “jungle Raj” for its colonial levels of poverty and corruption. Many viewed it as one of the most dysfunctional corners of a country world famous for government dysfunction. Much of that began to change, however, when a low-key bureaucrat from a local center-left party, Nitish Kumar, won the 2005 election and set out to clean up a wasteland where 100 million people are squeezed into a territory smaller than Arkansas.
In his two terms in office, he has done just that, relying on an array of innovative programs to crack down on crime, shame corrupt public officials, and boost economic development. In addition to setting up a special fast-track court system to move trials along more quickly, Kumar’s administration has offered cash rewards to whistleblowers and has broadcast bribery complaints on YouTube. A law passed last year allows the government to take control of ill-gotten land and, unless the owner is cleared in court, use it for schools and health clinics. He has overseen the construction of nearly 15,000 schools, hired 150,000 new teachers, launched a program to give free bikes to girls so they can get to class, and distributed free radios to lower-caste citizens to “listen to music, news, and improve your areas of information,” as he put it. With crime rates finally plummeting and education rates rising, there’s no question these efforts have paid off. In 2011, Indian economists Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari called Bihar India’s least corrupt state, and this year the state’s service- and agriculture-based economy was the country’s fastest-growing for the second year in a row (this while India’s national economy is waning and, with it, enthusiasm for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh). Although Kumar says he’s not a candidate to replace Singh, he is now being floated as a potential prime minister for 2014. Quite a leap for the leader of a region once decried as a “criminal fiefdom.”
78. ROGER DINGLEDINE, NICK MATHEWSON, PAUL SYVERSON
For making the web safe for whistleblowers.
Founder, Tor Project | Walpde, Mass
When the Tor Project was announced a decade ago, Google was still largely seen as fulfilling its corporate motto, “Don’t be evil,” and Twitter didn’t even exist. But researchers Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson, and Paul Syverson could already see trouble on the horizon. Created in a U.S. naval lab to safeguard government communications, their brainchild the Tor Project (which stands for “the onion router”) is designed to protect anyone and everyone from the dangers of Big Brother. The free software, now relied on by hundreds of thousands of users daily, bounces information through the computers of 3,000 volunteers around the world, hiding the identity of the original user.
Operated by just 15 full-time employees with a budget just over $1 million, thanks to grants from the U.S. State Department and the National Science Foundation, Tor allows people who otherwise might be silenced online — whether corporate whistleblowers or domestic-violence victims — to bring important information to light. It has become an especially critical tool over the last two years as activists and journalists from Bahrain to Syria find themselves the targets of increasingly tech-savvy tyrants. “We developed Tor originally with civil liberties in mind,” Dingledine told an interviewer. “We want to let people in free countries be able to communicate and secure their communications so they can keep their freedoms.” Bit by bit, it’s working.
79. ELIOT COHEN
For writing the GOP’s foreign-policy playbook in 2012.
Political scientist | Washington
It was Eliot Cohen, the former State Department counselor and Pentagon advisor, who first laid out Mitt Romney’s vision for a bolder, more self-assured American foreign policy — one that the bow-tied Johns Hopkins University professor contrasted with President Barack Obama’s call to focus on “nation-building here at home.”
“The United States cannot withdraw from world affairs without grave danger to itself and to others,” Cohen warned in an October 2011 white paper for Romney’s presidential campaign. Above all, the United States must not look “weak and uncertain,” he wrote — a theme the candidate would earnestly take up on the stump. As for Obama, Cohen accused him of “currying favor with our enemies.”
For Cohen, the role of the presidency itself was at stake. The leading military strategist, whose 2002 book, Supreme Command, made it onto President George W. Bush’s reading list in the lead-up to the Iraq war, has long touted strategic vision and strong, hands-on leadership from the White House during wartime. He is perhaps best known for defying the conventional wisdom that presidents, once they’ve given the order to go to war, should leave the strategic planning to their generals. Romney may have lost despite touting the need to restore “strong, confident, principled global leadership,” but you haven’t heard the last of Cohen and his argument.
80. RAGHURAM RAJAN
For saving India from its politicians.
Economist | India
In the United States, where Raghuram Rajan lived and worked for years as a professor at the University of Chicago and chief economist at the IMF, he is known primarily as one of the guys who saw it coming. In a 2005 paper — widely derided by his colleagues at the time — Rajan warned that financial markets were encouraging irresponsible speculation that could lead to a major crash. He would be vindicated three years later. In the past year, Rajan has argued against “the standard Keynesian line” that governments can simply borrow and spend their way out, urging the West to “treat the crisis as a wake-up call to fix what debt has papered over.”
Now, Rajan is bringing his know-how to his most challenging assignment yet: saving the world’s largest democracy from economic ruin. In August, he accepted the post of chief economic advisor to the Finance Ministry in his native India at a time when the country’s GDP is slowing and deficits are beginning to spiral out of control. Rajan argues that India has been coasting off the dividends from economic reforms passed in the 1990s as its politicians have gotten lazy, giving away government funding to politically influential groups while failing to make the investments in energy and infrastructure that could help India reach the next level of growth. As his appointment suggests, Rajan’s views are increasingly becoming the conventional wisdom. Winning the argument is one thing, though — getting India’s entrenched political interests to do something about it may prove another matter entirely.