34. John Kerry and Richard Lugar
for being the adults on Capitol Hill.
Senators | Washington
Second acts for failed presidential candidates are tough to pull off. But John Kerry emerged from his bruising 2004 defeat to become a statesman in a U.S. Senate no longer much interested in the world, using his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee to serve as a quiet but effective emissary for Barack Obama's administration. Last year, after Hamid Karzai won a presidential election marred by fraud, Kerry made a flurry of trips to Kabul and helped convince a reluctant Afghan president to submit to a runoff vote.
Closer to home, Kerry and his Republican counterpart, veteran lawmaker Richard Lugar, have established the Foreign Relations Committee as a lone outpost of at least occasional bipartisanship. The two joined forces to advance New START, Obama's nuclear arms reduction agreement with Russia -- a longstanding concern for Lugar, who has been a legendary figure in arms control since co-authoring landmark post-Cold War weapons-reduction legislation in 1992. Kerry and Lugar also worked to pass a massive $7.5 billion aid package for Pakistan, which could prove a crucial boost in the wake of this summer's disastrous flooding. Their efforts reflect a serious concern for America's place in the world, which, in a political season dominated by domestic concerns and partisan posturing, is a welcome thing indeed.
35. Paul Farmer
for showing the world what to do, and what not to do, in Haiti.
Medical anthropologist, Harvard University | Boston
By Paul Farmer
When the earthquake struck Haiti in January, donors around the world scrambled to figure out who was best prepared to help the survivors. The near-unanimous answer was Paul Farmer. For the last 23 years, Farmer has worked to make his organization, Partners in Health, a model for how aid can be done -- with local staff and low overhead, two characteristics that have made it indispensable this year. As U.N. Haiti envoy Bill Clinton's right-hand man, Farmer has lauded the generosity of the response to the earthquake, but he has also called the world out for shirking its responsibilities to the needy.
"NGOs have to be careful not to replace the state," he recently told students at Macalester College. "If they are filling the role the public sector should be filling, can they find a way to help rebuild that locally?" It's a lesson that, thanks in part to Farmer, is spreading around the world: The most successful aid efforts are driven by people on the ground, rather than dictates from Washington.
36. Michelle Bachelet
for applying a stateswoman's vision to gender equality.
Undersecretary-general, U.N. Women | New York
No one would have guessed that Michelle Bachelet -- a single mother, a socialist, and a survivor of torture under Gen. Augusto Pinochet's regime -- would emerge as one of Latin America's most conciliatory and universally admired leaders. But, indeed, her term as president of Chile was marked by a judiciousness of spirit and policy. She negotiated free trade agreements while expanding health-care coverage; she saved the country's boom-time export surplus while spending on government-run day-care centers. "In my family I learned that all people should be equal in opportunities and that justice was essential, dignity was essential," she told the Nation in September.
Tapped this year to head a new U.N. super-agency dedicated to the protection of women's rights, Bachelet will now be bringing her fearless-but-measured leadership style to the world stage. One key focus will be combating workplace discrimination, given that bringing women into the workplace has proved to be among the most efficient ways to jump-start struggling economies. "Women are almost invisible in some places," Bachelet said in September. "It is a shame for humanity."
CLAUDIO SANTANA/AFP/Getty Images
37. Martin Wolf
for dishing out the economic advice no one wants to hear.
Columnist, Financial Times | Britain
Before he became Britain's most influential financial journalist, Martin Wolf worked for the World Bank under the 1970s leadership of Robert McNamara, the famously hard-headed former U.S. defense secretary. There Wolf watched as McNamara's ideas -- namely, that increasing poor countries' investments was key to their escaping poverty -- led to the debt crises that swept the developing world in the following decade. The experience shook the young economist's worldview, leading him to believe, as he told the New Republic last year, "It's really, really, really hard for large institutions to make intelligent decisions."
In his dense, authoritative Financial Times columns and blog posts, Wolf has this year offered similarly gloomy -- and indispensable -- wisdoms about Europe's long road to economic recovery. Looking across the pond, he has been a reliable critic of Barack Obama's economics brain trust, while assailing his tax-cutting Republican detractors for conspiring "to destroy the credit of the U.S. federal government" and so bring about "the end of the U.S. era of global dominance."