I wouldn’t really challenge Time on this. Of all the people in the world, we should really be scrutinizing Putin and his policies, especially his plans for local domination through manipulation of natural resources.
While Petraeus would also have been a good choice (and Al Gore would have been horrible, and Rowling a certainly-deserved surprise), Putin’s impact is certainly more global. Time named Hitler Man of the Year in 1938. Here’s what they said about him:
But the figure of Adolf Hitler strode over a cringing Europe with all the swagger of a conqueror. Not the mere fact that the Führer brought 10,500,000 more people (7,000,000 Austrians, 3,500,000 Sudetens) under his absolute rule made him the Man of 1938. Japan during the same time added tens of millions of Chinese to her empire. More significant was the fact Hitler became in 1938 the greatest threatening force that the democratic, freedom-loving world faces today.
His shadow fell far beyond Germany’s frontiers. Small, neighboring States (Denmark, Norway, Czecho-Slovakia, Lithuania, the Balkans, Luxembourg, The Netherlands) feared to offend him. In France Nazi pressure was in part responsible for some of the post-Munich anti-democratic decrees. Fascism had intervened openly in Spain, had fostered a revolt in Brazil, was covertly aiding revolutionary movements in Rumania, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania. In Finland a foreign minister had to resign under Nazi pressure. Throughout eastern Europe after Munich the trend was toward less freedom, more dictatorship. In the U. S. alone did democracy feel itself strong enough at year’s end to give Hitler his come-uppance (see p. 5).
The Fascintern, with Hitler in the driver’s seat, with Mussolini, Franco and the Japanese military cabal riding behind, emerged in 1938 as an international, revolutionary movement. Rant as he might against the machinations of international Communism and international Jewry, or rave as he would that he was just a Pan-German trying to get all the Germans back in one nation, Führer Hitler had himself become the world’s No. 1 International Revolutionist—so much so that if the oft-predicted struggle between Fascism and Communism now takes place it will be only because two revolutionist dictators. Hitler and Stalin, are too big to let each other live in the same world.
Now, I don’t want to Godwin this thread before it starts, but it’s important to highlight those doing great good (Petraeus) and those doing great evil (Putin).
Make no mistake. Putin is organizing Russia into an energy empire, and it seeks to reconsolidate all the states that broke off from it under the weakness of one Mikhail Gorbechev and faltered under Boris Yeltsin. And as for opposition? It gets beaten, arrested, and/or killed. Even the celebrities.
But one thing I will say fearlessly to Putin. I was Man of the Year first. In your face, n00b.