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Foreign Policy Mag's 'Top 100 Global Thinkers': A Rogue's Gallery of Imperialists, Billionaires and Cheerleaders of Capitalist Domination

If Dick Cheney is a top global thinker, we're in deep trouble.


A few years back, Foreign Policy magazine  began compiling annual lists of "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Aside from some  worthy exceptions, the lists are populated by individuals whose  dearth of intellectual qualifications tends to render the whole business an exercise in oxymoron proliferation. 

With this year's survey of Global Thought, FP purports to "present… a unique portrait of 2012's global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them". 

Given the neoliberal presentation of the mission statement, it's not surprising to find corporate apologists well-represented in the marketplace. Global Thinker no. 65, for example, is US economist Paul Romer, whose crusade to revive the  practice of colonialism in the world is creatively euphemised by FP into a "novel idea for persuading a developing country to sign away a parcel of land to be governed by a foreign power as a model for economic growth". 

Multibillionaire Bill Gates is meanwhile elevated to the  rank of "perennial FP Global Thinker for the enormous scale and ambition of his efforts to finance - and reimagine - global health and development".

Some of these virtuous efforts were showcased in a 2007  Los Angeles Times report revealing that "the Gates Foundation funded a polio vaccination clinic in Ebocha, Nigeria, in the shadow of a giant petroleum processing plant in which the Gates Foundation was invested" and which itself contributed in no small way to the deterioration of local health. 

The brains of empire 

Of course, no inventory of Global Thought would be complete without a celebration of the cognitive processes underpinning US imperial predations. Among the 2012 honourees are President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former Vice-President  Dick Cheney - the latter two icons dating from the administration of someone who has been excluded from the FPlist despite notable thoughts such as that  Africa is a country.  

To be sure,  reports that the Obama team has managed to conduct five times as many drone strikes in Pakistan as the preceding cowboy - a practice inevitably resulting in rampant civilian casualties - are a sure sign of civilised progress and a conclusive rejection of George W Bush's " smoke them out" rhetoric. Obama, the "brainy 44th president", is recognised for his "more restrained view of America's role in the world" and for "curb[ing] his predecessor's dangerous excesses", thereby "conclusively put[ting] cowboy diplomacy out to pasture". 

In similar counter-intuitive fashion, Clinton is praised by FP, along with her husband, for her "vision" that the US can "promote democracy and development abroad without… needlessly antagonising other countries. It's a different kind of American exceptionalism, based on more than just firepower". 

FP does not care to explain how Clinton's  campaign to validate the 2009 coup d'état against the democratically-elected president of Honduras constitutes democracy promotion or an eschewal of needless antagonising of a country that has for the duration of its contemporary history been at the mercy of US corporate and military interests. 

That the coup has ushered in an era of intensified murder and impunity raises additional questions about the  merits of "American exceptionalism"

According to FP, Clinton "has emerged as one of the Obama administration's most forceful advocates for human rights and democracy" based on her preeminent role in "the push for the United States to intervene in Libya last year".

This assessment overlooks the fact that even the New York Times -  bastion of imperial apologetics - has drawn attention to disconcerting accompaniments to firepower in Libya such as NATO's refusal to acknowledge or investigate the  substantial civilian casualties that resulted from its own bombardments. 

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