96. Bruce Ackerman
for sounding the alarm about American radicalism.
Historian, Yale University | New Haven, Conn.
With accusations of fascism and socialism bandied about, the advent of trutherism and birtherism, and the Tea Party's meteoric rise, American politics seem to have coarsened and radicalized in recent years. Bruce Ackerman, an eminent law professor best known for his multivolume history of the U.S. Constitution, We the People, is here to tell us that it's an age-old reality with potentially devastating consequences both for the United States and the world.
In his new book, The Decline and Fall of the American Republic, Ackerman warns of a steady march of trends that he sees undermining democracy: political primaries that reward extremists, presidents who prefer loyalists over independent-minded experts, and a military gaining an ever-stronger foothold in the civilian domain. And there will be fallout. "When a superpower is in decline," Ackerman wrote on ForeignPolicy.com, "its unreliability will spur rising powers to search for more reliable partners."
97. Unity Dow
for proving that the rule of law can be a force for change.
Judge | Botswana
When Unity Dow became a lawyer, she took the title of "advocate" rather seriously. Over three decades, she has led a legal and moral crusade for the equality of women, the rights of indigenous tribes, and democracy across Africa. More recently, she has taken up the cause of HIV/AIDS, which has inflicted a horrible toll on southern Africa. "Botswana is at ground zero" for the epidemic, her 2010 co-authored book on the human cost of the disease, Saturday Is for Funerals, explains.
In February, Dow was sworn in as one of three international judges serving on a Kenyan court that will rule on any legal challenges to the newly ratified Kenyan Constitution. Across fields and cases, Dow's work exemplifies the idea that the law is only as just as those who practice it.
98. Michael Mandelbaum
for teaching America how to be a hegemon on the cheap.
Political scientist, Johns Hopkins University | Washington
At the apex of George W. Bush's neoconservative adventurism abroad, scholar Michael Mandelbaum was touting a more benign sort of American supremacy: a superpower that was a force for stability rather than transformation. In The Frugal Superpower, published this summer, Mandelbaum offers a similarly sensible take on the current American conundrum: how to live within straitened means while not creating a perilous vacuum in international affairs. That means setting priorities rather than trying to do everything, weakening unsavory rivals by reducing oil consumption, and attaching the U.S. economy to sustainable engines of growth. "However the nation performs on that test," Mandelbaum, a one-time advisor to Bill Clinton, wrote, "American foreign policy will change in a fundamental way."
99. Tarja Halonen
for combating every sort of inequality.
President | Finland
When Tarja Halonen spoke before the U.N. General Assembly in September, she argued for a new kind of globalization based on the principle of fairness: "Growth needs to be green, equitable, and inclusive," she said. It's a message Halonen has turned into reality over her decade in office. Finland was the first country to tax carbon and will be one of the only countries to reach the U.N. goal of spending 0.7 percent of GNP on aid by 2015. Meanwhile, the country's serious emphasis on education means that its pupils regularly score first among developed countries on science and reading, bringing education reformers from around the world to its door. As Finland's first female president, Halonen knows how much equality matters, and she has leveled the playing field for everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. No wonder Newsweek proclaimed Finland the best country of 2010, an honor that redounds to no small degree on its president.
100. Ian Buruma
for insisting that liberalism is more than a fighting faith.
Writer | New York
Many liberals these days seem at pains to establish their bona fides as tough-minded hawks when it comes to global threats, but the Dutch man of letters has made a career out of affirming the classic liberalism of the open-door variety. His writing in recent years has attracted the ire of critics who think he equivocates on the dangers of radical Islam, but Ian Buruma made his response this year with a typically judicious and politically relevant book, Taming the Gods, that reflects on the Western capacity for religious pluralism. According to Buruma, Western society is robust enough to embrace even illiberal practices, so long as these are not violent. "Living with values that one does not share," he wrote in a recent column on France's burqa ban, "is a price to be paid for living in a pluralist society."