Foreign Policy honors the global thinkers of 2010

Update: The Global Thinkers panel has just wrapped up. The topic of the event was the "rise of the rest" and the future of global energy security, but of course, this week's events couldn't help but enter into the proceedings. Responding to the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks, in which Turkish foreign policy featured prominently, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu joked that he now knows that his country is "at the top of the world agenda today."

The foreign minister, who is described unflatteringly in a number of the cables, dismissed them as the work of individual diplomats rather than a true expression of U.S. foreign policy. "You can read these, or you can listen to the speech of President Obama last year in the Turkish parliament. Which would I take seriously?" he said.

Davutoglu also suggested that perhaps the diplomats who wrote the cables "are not able to adapt to the new situation" in which Turkey and the United States are important allies.

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim discussed Turkey and Brazil's controversial joint efforts to reach an agreement on nuclear enrichment with Iran last year, saying "We did exactly what was asked of us" by the United States and Western powers. Referring to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, he suggested that the efforts were not welcomed in Washington because "we are not part of the P5 or because we did it too quickly."

According to U.S. Senator John Kerry, "The most interesting things in WikiLeaks was the consensus on Iran." The senator even went as far as to say that learning about the level of agreement in this way was "not unconstructive."

Regarding the rise of new powers like Turkey and Brazil, Kerry said, "We [in the United States] are dragging our heels while the world is moving at a very accelerated rate."


Tonight, the staff of Foreign Policy is getting all gussied up to celebrate our 40th anniversary by honoring the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010 at a special event at Washington's Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The evening will include a special conversation moderated by PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill featuring Ahmet Davutoglu, foreign minister of Turkey; Celso Amorim, foreign minister of Brazil; John Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Shai Agassi, electric-car entrepreneur and CEO of Better Place. The event will also feature a special tribute to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, one of the first editors of Foreign Policy.

We are also thrilled and honored to have received a special video message from democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was recently released from two decades under house arrest in Burma. 

A number of other prominent members of our list including U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Movement, and more.

The video above, filmed and compiled by our friends at Reuters, features highlights of interviews with the thinkers. Will be featuring more footage from the interview and the event in the days event. I'll also have a quick write-up of the panel discussion later tonight.


TSA scanners: An overlooked story?

Foreign Policy's list of the 10 Stories You Missed in 2010, compiled and written by yours truly, when on-line yesterday. Amid a number of stories from Indonesia, to the Southwest U.S. border to Central Asia that may be news to many readers, is one that you've most likely heard something about in recent weeks: the growing backlash to the full-body x-ray scanners in airports

No, I haven't been in a coma for the last month. In my defense, when I put this list together almost a month ago, this was a percolating but still little-covered story, written about sporadically in daily newspapers but mostly in tech-focused outlets like CNET and BoingBoing. In my opinion, the international dimensions of the story -- Muslim women being barred from flights for refusing the scanners at Heathrow, Italy's decision, after several months of testing, to abandon the scanners altogether, peeping-toms at Nigeria's main airport, is still largely overlooked in the U.S.

Working on the list, and watching TSA scanners become the biggest news story in the universe shortly after it went to print, has been an interesting opportunity to reflect on how some issues become big stories in an era of increasing access to information. All the stories on the list were reported somewhere and a number of them, in my opinion, could easily have become major topics of public debate. (Though admittedly, the TSA story is a perfect storm of sexual overtones, anti-big government rhetoric, and fear of terrorism that's hard to beat.)

As in the case of the WikiLeaks dump, where the function of reporters following the story is less about finding out information than ferreting out what, within the quarter of a million cables, is actually interesting, the sheer volume of international news available to readers today makes following the news a task of sorting and choosing rather than seeking. As I discussed in a recent piece on Google News, this makes it increasingly important to for readers to understand the inherent biases and backgrounds of the sources they trust.  

But the thought of the number of interesting stories that are hiding in plain sight waiting for large audiences to find them should be an exciting one for interested readers. 

Jeff Swensen/Getty Images