The World's 7 Most Powerful Defenders
By Michael Hayden, Principal at The Chertoff Group
Published in: Forbes - November, 2011
"Global security can be formed or threatened by heads of state whose wisdom, folly and obsessions shape global events. But often it is the security practitioners, those rarely in the headlines but whose craft and energy quietly break new ground, who keep us safe or put us in peril."
#1 Liang Guanglie, Minister of Defense, People's
Republic of China
Liang commands the most unrestrained cyber force in the world, one that routinely steals terabytes of data not just for national security but for economic advantage as well.
#2 Qassem Suleimani, Quds Force Commander, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Dangerous, well resourced, close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Suleimani shares the Supreme Leader’s transcendental faith in the Islamic Revolution and is capable of doing almost anything—like IEDs in Iraq or in a Washington, D.C. restaurant—to further it.
#3 Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Army Chief of Staff, Pakistan
The most powerful man in a nuclear-armed country ranked 12th (of 177) in the Fund for Peace’s Failed State Index. With civilian institutions feckless, he must navigate a society that is increasingly violent, increasingly extremist and increasingly anti-American.
#4 Name redacted, Current Chief, CIA Counter Terrorism Center
Head of the CTC for the last four CIA Directors. Tireless, austere, knowledgeable, irascible, lethal, under cover—and remaking the American way of war.
#5 Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Assistant Minister of the Interior, Saudi Arabia
“MBN” is the thoughtful head of Saudi Mabahith (internal security) and the son of the new Crown Prince.
#6 Kim Jong-il and Son, Dear Leader and Comrade General, North Korea
Kim Jong-il is less a head of state than the leader of an Asian criminal syndicate. The Kims have been playing poker with the U.S. for over a decade with rarely more than a pair of threes in their hand. They are still capable of burning down the neighborhood—and seem willing to do so.
#7 Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Yahya al-Libi, Last Leaders Standing, al Qaeda
al-Zawahiri carries the mantle of bin Laden as al Qaeda’s number one but al-Libi—telegenic and media smart—may be Qaeda’s emerging rock star. If either can survive and sustain the AQ brand, they can energize the global movement and regional franchises.