Yes, Putin replaced Obama at the top of Forbes' Most Powerful list... Does it matter?


Russias President Vladimir Putin gestures during a press conference at the end of the G20 summit on September 6, 2013 in Saint Petersburg. World leaders at the G20 summit on Friday failed to bridge their bitter divisions over US plans for military action against the Syrian regime, with Washington signalling that it has given up on securing Russia's support at the UN on the crisis.



It's been a rough week, month... possibly year for President Barack Obama.

After getting battered in the media over the government shutdown, the flawed launch of the health care website and the continuing revelations surrounding US intelligence agencies' surveillance practices around the world, the US president received another slight.

Forbes' Most Powerful People list demoted Obama to second place and named Russian President Vladimir Putin as the leader of the pack.

"Putin has solidified his control over Russia while Obama’s lame duck period has seemingly set in earlier than usual for a two-term president — latest example: the government shutdown mess," Forbes explained.

Forbes added that "anyone watching the chess match over Syria has a clear idea of the shift in the power towards Putin on the global stage." It also pointed to Putin exercising his international clout in offering former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden asylum.

Of course, many will dismiss the idea that Putin is more powerful than Obama and a number of other world leaders as absurd. Such lists tend to generate interest by making controversial choices.

Some of the factors that contributed to Putin's power? A "nuclear-tipped army, a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and some of the world's largest oil and gas reserves."

Putin may have had an advantage thanks to Forbes' methodology, which includes 1) how many people the candidate has power over (Russia's population was 143.5 million as of 2012), and 2) the financial resources within the candidate's control (for world leaders, the list uses GDP... and Russia's was more than 2 trillion in 2012).

Forbes also takes into account if the candidate is 3) powerful in multiple spheres and 4) actively uses his power.

Critics may respond by saying those attributes don't make up for Russia's relative weakness in international affairs or detract from the country's looming economic and social problems.

The Kremlin sniffed disdainfully at the news, with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the Russian president "does not fuss about things like that."

Putin takes the top spot after a year in which his country passed a controversial anti-gay law, negotiated for a deal to rid Syria of its chemical weapons, and made preparations to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Here are the top 10 from Forbes' list:

1. Russian President Vladimir Putin

2. US President Barack Obama

3. Communist Party of China Xi Jinping

4. Pope Francis

5. German Chancellor Angela Merkel

6. Bill Gates

7. US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke

8. Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz

9. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi

10. Wal-Mart CEO Michael Duke