The List: The World’s Kissingers

A country's foreign policy is often defined less by its elected leader than its behind-the-scenes operators and elder statesmen. Here are four figures setting the global agenda for the world's emerging powers, just as Henry Kissinger set America's for over 50 years.

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573487_100218_list-743179755.jpg
TOKYO - MAY 25: Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew poses prior to his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a courtesy call at the Prime Minister's official residence May 25, 2007 in Tokyo, Japan. Lee is in Japan to attend the "Future of Asia" symposium by Asian leaders during his 6-day trip. (Photo by Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Lee Kuan Yew

LEE KUAN YEW

Country: Singapore

Age: 86

LEE KUAN YEW

Country: Singapore

Age: 86

Position: Former prime minister, current “minister mentor” (a cabinet-level position created specifically for him)

Legacy: After shepherding Singapore to unprecedented economic growth over his 31 years as prime minister, Lee has become an apostle for the Asian model of growth, a mix of economic liberalization and rigid political control.

Lee always said that Singapore’s foreign policy was dictated by its small size — it cannot survive without international and regional cooperation. But the influence of his ideas can be seen in the “peaceful rise” and not so peaceful governance of the world’s most populous country: China.

Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

CELSO AMORIM

Country: Brazil

Age: 67

Position: Foreign minister

Legacy: A controversial former academic who once compared wealthy countries’ negotiating tactics to those of Joseph Goebbels, Amorim has deftly managed the nigh-impossible balancing act between the United States and Brazil’s leftist neighbors in Venezuela and Cuba while also building Brazil’s alliances with other emerging powers.

Speaking of the alliance with Russia, India, and China, Amorim said, “You have a new configuration of power appearing in the world.… We can’t be conditioned by the views coming from the United States and the EU. We have to look from our own perspective.”

FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

TURKI AL-FAISAL

Country: Saudi Arabia

Age: 65

Position: Former ambassador to Britain and the United States, ex-director of the Saudi foreign-intelligence service

Legacy: As chief of the Saudi kingdom’s external intelligence service, the youngest son of the late King Faisal helped fund and organize the Afghan resistance to the occupying Soviet forces. Working as ambassador to Britain and then the United States in the years following 9/11, Turki emerged as part diplomat, part pundit. He resigned in 2006 but remains an influential advisor in Riyadh and a fixture in Washington.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

AHMET DAVUTOGLU

Country: Turkey

Age: 51

Position: Foreign minister

Legacy: A keen student of history, the brash and outspoken Davutoglu believes in restoring Turkey’s Ottoman glories so that Turkey once again carries weight in the Middle East. Under his guidance, Turkey has strengthened its ties with Arab governments and sought to play the role of mediator in Arab-Israeli conflicts.

At the same time, Davutoglu supports Turkey’s eventual membership in the European Union: “Turkey can be European in Europe and Eastern in the East because we are both,” he says.

CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua E. Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy.

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