11. Fernando Henrique Cardoso - for calling the war on drugs what it is: a disaster.
Cardoso has never been afraid to ask tough questions. As president of Brazil, he shook the country's huge but lethargic market back to life with tough fiscal policy and pioneering social programs. So it was no surprise this year when, together with fellow Latin American ex-presidents César Gaviria and Ernesto Zedillo, Cardoso took on a new challenge: the U.S.- led war on drugs. "Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven't worked," they wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
Cardoso's broadside, laid out in full in a report last February, reinvigorated a moribund debate over the legalization of drugs. He pushed to rebrand the problem as one of global health, rather than mere criminality. And his timing couldn't have been better: Barack Obama once called the drug war an "utter failure," and he seems to prefer treating users to locking them up. The man who called himself Brazil's "accidental" president may have just done more for his country and his region than many of its more deliberate leaders.
Reading list: Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another, by Jonathan Fenby; Prisoner of the State, by Zhao Ziyang; Grown up Digital, by Don Tapscott.
Wants to visit: Iran, where I never have been. It is fascinating from a sociological point of view (secularization vs. fundamentalism), from a political point of view (an autocracy with elections), and from the point of view of global affairs, as Iran plays a crucial role in the Middle East.
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