tv [untitled] November 11, 2010 8:00pm-8:30pm EST
hello and welcome to cross talk i'm peter lavelle what makes a person powerful and influential is it wealth military strength or is it something more intangible like the power of ideas maybe it is a combination of numerous factors and forbes magazine sixty eight most powerful people tell us as much. you can. discuss the forbes most powerful i'm joined by bill schneider in washington he's a leading us political analyst and a resident scholar at third way also in washington we have janine wood else he's a professor at george mason university and in new york we cross to michael nor he is the executive editor at forbes and another member of our crosstalk team on the hunger all right if i can go to you. michael in new york first how hard is it to make a list like this i guess i know that you're one of seven. editors there to put this
together and maybe what are some of the most and. biggest criticisms that you've gotten so far. well you know it's very hard to do this powers something that's it means different things to different people so we define power very specifically we define it in four ways we asked whether a person has power over a lot of other people in the case of a country like russia we look at the population we ask whether or not they have significant financial resources compared to their peers so for you know a head of state we look at their g.d.p. for a company we look at their revenues and then we ask whether or not they're powerful in multiple ways so somebody like mayor bloomberg of new york is not only a politician he's a billionaire he's a media figure bloomberg some weird thing first that we're going to italy and then we ask whether or not they actively wield their power and actively we'll being part is actually what gives i think putin
a pretty big jump up who came in fourth this year which is actually very high then we ask we come up with a candidate list of eighty people and we asked seven different editors to rate them in all four categories then we averages rankings and then there's a little bit of smoothing but that's pretty much the list so they were sort of represents the collective wisdom of seven pretty smart people ok bill you've looked at the list i saw you looking at the list for the program started with your first impressions of it there i mean. the biggest changes from year to year or a consistency what strikes you is very interesting about it because i think anyone that looks at it is going to say i wouldn't put that person there of course it well what you can tell from this list is who's arrived where power is headed in what countries have moved up on the list clearly china hu jintao is the president of china and he's number one on the list china has clearly arrived japan is much much lower on the list the japanese i think you have to get to number seventeen in the twenty's before you get to the japanese prime minister and also russia is
a little bit lower than china in this case about four or five years ago this that would not have been the case all right i want to talk about china a little bit later janine will what strikes you about it and any particular person a movement of one person or company some of this representing company a country and i think all of us are going to agree i want to talk about china but china does make a huge impression this year go ahead. well i think that what we see on the list are the names of the leaders that we know the people that we know and for people that for whom that symbolizes power and influence for us in to pull fields and. but what we know is that many of the most powerful and influential people in the world are people whose names we don't necessarily know who play multiple it overlapping roles that are not fully disclosed often behind the
scenes and so we don't know their names and yet we want to see such a list i think because the list symbolizes for us power and influence and helps us understand how the world works but i think if we want to delve more deeply into how power and influence really works in in today's world. of what i call the shadow elite we have to understand more about that p.p.p. playing multiple roles sort of in the mold of michael bloomberg and often playing them however behind the scenes and wielding influence that we the public are not privy to judy if i can say with you really the people that are behind the scenes they want to stay behind the scenes they don't want the publicity they don't want to people they don't want people to know who they are they're quite happy with their influence and most likely their wealth they just want to keep it that way
they have their front people you're saying in a way. right well there are there and the profile of today's new power brokers top power brokers turns out in many ways to be someone who performs these multiple overlapping roles across fields that are not fully disclosed and sometimes what he is is doing. very visible it's out in front it involves a whole p.r. campaign or a whole p.r. machine and other times we we don't know and we can't know what's really going on so it's really both it's of both worlds the behind the scenes and also the branding the message for the public is is a part of it sometimes you're right they don't want us to know who they are but very often they're also the ones out there who are branding the message we just don't know their agendas it's much more difficult the way power and influence are constructed today as opposed to several decades ago to really figure out who has
who wields power and influence because so much of power and influence. so many of these power brokers are are are not stable elites in the old sense of the world they're moving to rail and they're much more peripatetic it's much harder to track them because so much more of governing of government today is outside of formal government than it used to be. thirty or even even twenty years ago if you want to jump in right there do you want to jump in there right now. well i just want to make a comment that here's an operational definition definition of power that i think works for me and i think explains the list power is the ability to influence events the more powerful you are the more influence you have over events you can do that quietly behind the scenes you can do that publicly you can do with money you can do that with religious influence over a large organization like the pope ben bernanke he is more or less behind the
scenes he's not a political actor but he is very very powerful the capacity to influence events and it will change clearly when bill clinton was president he had a lot more capacity than he does now bill that is don't you think he has a lot of power because he can print money that's a pretty nice thing to be able to do michel if i go to you one of the things i'm looking at the list and i used to be an academic historian and it seems to me the european leaders are still pretty high up in the list of what kind of debate was going on among the editors because i was merkel's position yeah because she brought presents in least my mind really the european union in a lot of ways and i would say personally thank goodness she's there but these other leaders you know it's not a cosy comment i mean if they do they really rate where they are it seems there is so much higher than they really need to be that's my impression and a lot of comments that i've gotten from other people looking at the list well you look at the list of the biggest countries by g.d.p. you compare it to our list i think you'll see you know that the debate i mean
germany is you know it's the largest economy in europe is huge some of the some of the leaders that i more interested in actually. what somebody said about japan earlier japan's prime minister is loads i think japan's got three six prime ministers in six years so he's not going to be that high why somebody like david cameron of the u.k. is going to be very high because it's you know a declared nuclear power there on the un security council those are the sorts of things that we debated in terms of heads of state ok but it's not is that necessarily make the us go ahead bill. you know when i see the number sixteen on the list is dilma rousseff the newly elected president of brazil when was this list made she just got elected over. michael i mean we tried to we we put her on before the election which was actually we do we beats truman moment with that if you read the text of the printed edition you're probably looking at the online edition we said presidential candidate in print to save us election was on the thirty first so
we went to press on november first which also made a little hard with barack obama because you know the real reason hu jintao was number one he was number two here is not that he got so much more powerful this year it's that barack obama became much less powerful as a result of the watch and ok janine i want i want to save china maybe for a little bit later but in looking this you see this list is being very american centric western centric and seeing what westerners think is important because there's one thing i mentioned in my introduction is there are there own homes there are more there are other intangibles kind of going along with what you were saying a little bit earlier oh yes yes i think they're i think they're i think at a forbes list is is by definition of course it's a valuable thing to do but by definition it is america centered it would hard to it would hard to say it would be very difficult i think for forbes to come up with a list that that wouldn't be centered in that way and in terms of the intangibles.
yes i mean i'd like to know for example the players who are behind the financial dealings that are going on in the world and in solving so to speak the helping to solve the financial crisis what are the names or who is wielding power and influence sometimes behind the scenes transnationally in terms of the bailouts and so on we don't necessary. they really know the names of those players and yet they are the ones i would argue who are actually making the decisions before the decisions get made by by by by america a lawyer by the e.u. or by the fed for instance so i think that that's where i would look. as a social anthropologist focusing on you know roles and relationships and how power
and influence are being wielded really the mechanisms in this this new world of the shadow elite that that we are in today due to these these structural changes in our system after the end of the cold war and the privatization of government a new information technologies it's all become much more complex and difficult difficult to track ok we're going to stop here for real quick break and after the break we'll continue our discussion of the world's most powerful people stay with me. if you. want. to be clear that wouldn't do to swim so deep.
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start. but first let's see what russians think about this issue they are sixty six point eight billion humans ranked by forbes as the most powerful people in the world forbes says it picked the six states to matter because in various ways they bend their world today at will who didn't our president of china topped the list followed by barack obama option. apparently the list reflects new global trends in public opinion research conducted by the law the santa russians were asked which countries are the most friendly towards russia belarus was ranked first and cousin second ten in germany whose leaders forbes ranked in its top ten followed the list of russia friendly countries whether you agree or disagree with forbes listing one thing is undeniable the world is changing and changing fast.
ok michael fine going to be one of the criticisms that i read of the of this year's list of most most powerful people is that. the chinese leader was in the number one because it's china and not him himself because of the the power structures are that are there who he represents to the interest that he represents janine i think in a in a in a different context is saying exactly the same thing but it's china that made it number one not its leader how would you disagree with that commentary well i mean of course i agree i was actually with jimmy and said that i couldn't agree with more with are there a lot of people on this list because they symbolize something. it's just the nature of the beast i mean osama bin laden's on the list a guy named chapo guzman who's a billionaire cocaine dealer in mexico is on the list he's in hiding i mean how powerful is that guy really but he represents the you know the violence in northern
mexico and the inability of the state of bicycle to actually maintain civil order. everybody and when you're talking about people like this they are all representing trends now in the case of hu jintao whoever they comparison here is to barack obama i mean barack obama how powerful is he really he can't get anything done without the consent of the congress and going into this list we were looking at election that we knew he was going to lose really badly and so i think the top position actually. likes barack obama's declining power rather than becoming more powerful but he is largely a warning to him i mean yes there's a poll that we were there a lot of the chinese on the list also but he if he was in jail with this issue he can do it if he wants a bill to do and here you can do it he also largely was able to name his own successor that's certainly a probe obama would love to have ok what do you think about that jeanine i mean
again this is kind of going back into your thesis there that there's more shadows out there it's very hard to do delineate really what is power if you can get the full picture. well i think that's exactly right and i think michael hit on something very important which is that this has a sort of symbolic value and of course this list was put together by people in washington and new york and these people on the net whose names appear on the list symbolize really give us a sense of how washington in new york view view the world in view who's important and how it's developing and what are the new power centers if moscow word were to put together a similar list it might be very differently would be very day there is an extremely different in many ways ok i mean some of my friends would be the on the list that are not this is they didn't even make the list of forbes go ahead keep going to be
good point well and or or if china the comparable publication in china were to make a list they would also look at it would look different so so i think this shows in many ways how how we we have americans or we have a certain american set see see the world it gives actually the outside the others in the world and i will do so. now we have michael go ahead. i just want to jump in and i want to i want to say something because it means absolutely right keep in mind my audience who we produce this magazine for is america and it would be absolutely silly futile for us to try and put together a list of how russia views the world this has a value for my readers because it's how america views the world and that's who my audience is ok and i'd like to build if i go to you the c.e.o. of facebook beat the secretary general of the united nations so tell me what you
think about that and what does it mean what i think about that is the united nations really doesn't have a lot of power in the sense of its ability to influence events mark zuckerberg does has a lot of money facebook has become extremely influential and i would add in view of the previous discussion leaders of democratic countries will always have limited power that's what democracy is all about they are in office for a fairly short period of time their power is always limited and circumscribed which is one reason why a hu jintao or a king of saudi arabia they're going to be high on the list because personally they can exercise power without a lot of constraints democratic leaders have a lot more constraints ok very good point i'd like to stick with the facebook versus the united nations is is that also a value janine i mean we value facebook more than we value the united nations and the and where i guess we're all agreeing this is an american centric conversation. well i mean that's that's that maybe that may be the case but i think that that
bill has an has an important point here and i think it's also that facebook represents the future that is a future to us in a way that the united nations doesn't when you think about it you think about facebook you think the future new information technology social networking what's on the horizon but when you think about the united nations it has a very different symbolic our. symbolic meaning and i think that we have to figure into we have to that's also a a large part of how we how we see the world and what would factor into to such a list michael why would the presidents of iran and venezuela on the list because they get an enormous amount you think you're normal. tension in western media. seem to make the cut as it were. right let i can can i go back to that in
a second i just want to go back to the facebook thing what's really interesting actually is if you compare not to the facebook guy necessarily to. big the moon is right above him but compared to people within that category which is what we did other words look at media figures and what's interesting to me is that zuckerberg actually makes the list ahead of the editor of the new york times and he that or the new york times is the only traditional media figure to make it on the list at all while the head of the b.b.c. and the head of al-jazeera fell off this year and i think that is an interesting trend representing the decline of traditional media and the rise of quantitative media it i thought was very i noticed rupert murdoch has got to share the burden on the list he's on the list you mean all right but he's not a you know he's easy yeah yeah i mean of course a rumor i would call him
a traditional media figure in a way he's a media mogul talking about a journalist. or a journalist type the wiki leaks guys on and that's also fascinating to me and that he stuck on in sixty eight place but that's pretty amazing and it's tough to janine's point earlier about you know who's really will be in power in that case the people who will be empowered anonymous tipster's that are funneling through this guy and rattling the cages of the very very elite chavez was on the list last year he fell off i can't tell you exactly why he didn't come that close and editors vote the supreme leader of iran is ok and actually quite high. and the point there it is that he's really the guy that's in charge it's the same thing with the president pakistan is not on but the head of the pakistani military sorry yes go ahead. i have a question why is sonia gandhi the president of the end of national congress one of the top ten in somewhat lower is the prime minister of india mr singh. michael in
your list go ahead. who was hand-picked by these it was handpicked by sonia gandhi remember in the two thousand and four elections she basically won because of her former birth decline become prime minister she picked him to be prime minister is a great choice i mean he's turned out to be many say the best prime minister since nehru she's also grooming her son to be the next prime minister so she's really to be seen as the. true heiress to the guardian there are prime minister why. michael fay can stay with you i mean. how do you think is it what's the trend of you looking at the history of the list are c.e.o.'s making inroads or they retreating i mean what is the balance here we get because of there's been a lot of commentary about that positive and negative by the way that there are so many c.e.o.'s and their heads of status and then that leaders very few other types
of professions as it were i mean there's single ones for each one but there's no critical mass what about that the relative weight between c.e.o.'s and heads of state right. well i think the composition of the list is really interesting in a lot of ways i think that i mean keep in mind that this is a list it is designed to provoke discussion i mean there's no definitive lissie in fact if you listed these sixty eight truly most powerful people in the world that's only it might only be heads of state and it might only be dictators and absolute kings that's not really an interesting list and it doesn't provoke the sort of conversations that we would like to have there are a lot of c.e.o.'s on the list c.e.o.'s have an enormous amount of power the c.e.o. of wal-mart very world's largest employer also you know is significant trading partner with china has tremendous influence in frankly in force or in siberia where they cut down the the trees to make those cheap for sure that we saw in arkansas and. i think what's interesting terms of the groups is the bankers as
a whole declined a lot this year wall street went down and they said we can do better is in general and i don't think this is a aftermath well it's a commentary on that during the financial crisis at the peak of the financial crisis which we were just coming out of last year we did this that they had inordinate about of powers for nation i believe ranked fourth of the us. all right gentlemen and lady we've run out of time many thanks to my guests today in new york and in washington and thanks to our viewers for watching us you ne see you next time and remember prost talk things. still.
russian intelligence officer who controlled. the spy plane in the summer. but officials. last month were targeting the u.s. . now when our special report coming up we explore the secrets of world war two under the depths of the black sea. with the bags packed and supplies all loaded the year's main event is about to kick off. to me this is the moon.