Foreign Policy has picked the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2012. These are the people that greatly enhanced the marketplace of ideas. They challenged us to look at the world differently and made remarkable change on this planet as a result. Here are the top five of the 100 picked by Foreign Policy and you can find all 100 by clicking here.
1. Aung San Suu Kyi (Member of Parliament in Burma):
Fittingly, Aung San Suu Kyi finally was able to accept her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in June. She used the occasion to remind the world of those like her, who struggle in the most forlorn places: "To be forgotten too is to die a little. It is to lose some of the links that anchor us to the rest of humanity." It is a sentiment still felt from Aleppo to Havana, Pyongyang to Tehran, but also, as Aung San Suu Kyi and Thein Sein have shown, one that doesn't need to be permanent.
2. President Moncef Marzouki (Tunisia):
As the spirit of 2011 has faded this year amid religious violence in Egypt and Libya and the bloody sectarian civil war in Syria, Tunisia remains the Arab Spring's most promising success story, with a contentious but robust political system and an economy that is growing again.
Much of the credit goes to President Moncef Marzouki, who has provided vision and wisdom since taking office in December 2011. At the U.N. General Assembly meeting in September, the doctor-turned-democracy-activistcalled on the United Nations to declare dictatorship a "disease" and launch an official campaign against autocratic rulers, including the establishment of an international court to arbitrate elections and government legitimacy so as to prevent dictators from taking power in the first place. "It behooves us to implement an ambitious, bold program to eliminate dictatorship in the same way in which we got rid of polio and smallpox," Marzouki said.
3. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Love them or hate them, America's ultimate power couple are also its most effective advocates for liberal internationalism: a vision that government can build prosperity at home and promote democracy and development abroad without demonizing the successful or needlessly antagonizing other countries. It's a different kind of American exceptionalism, based on more than just firepower. And in a U.S. election year that often felt like Randian revanchism vs. opportunistic populism on economics and chest-thumping aggression vs. coldhearted realism on foreign policy, it's no wonder that America is in the grips of a serious case of Clinton nostalgia
4. Computer Scientist Sebastain Thrun (Palo Alto)
Not since Henry Ford's Model T brought driving to the American masses at the turn of the 20th century has a motor vehicle so promised to revolutionize global transportation. Hydrogen and electric cars once seemed poised to fill that void, but their costs and upkeep have proved prohibitive. Enter the driverless car, the brainchild of Google fellow and Stanford University computer scientist Sebastian Thrun -- and now street-legal.
5. Bill and Melinda Gates
By 2020, she announced this year, the Gates Foundation will invest $560 million in improving access to birth control, and it plans to raise roughly $4 billion from outside donors. Most will be spent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where access to contraceptives is not widespread and maternal and infant mortality rates are devastatingly high. Contraceptive use already prevents 272,000 maternal deaths per year, but millions of women around the world still lack access to modern family planning -- precisely the void Gates has taken bold steps to fill.