"Anyone who understands power knows, it isn’t about corner offices and cocktail-party invitations—it’s about the space in your head," the editors of Details magazine advise in the introduction to their "Power 50"--the most powerful men under 45.
In their view, the most powerful men are the ones "who control your viewing patterns, your buying habits, your anxieties, your lust—the things you think about."
Though a significant number of individuals who've contributed to the surge aren't men under 45, the security developments brought by the infusion of manpower have been on the minds of many, making "the surge" an easy choice for #2--hilariously beat out for #1 by "Zac Efron, Shia LaBoeuf, and the Disney kids."
Erik Prince, Moqtada al-Sadr, and the "Vocal Vets" of groups like Iraq Veterans against the war came in at 8, 11, and 35 respectively. See what Details writes about its honorees below.
Average Age: 27
What do you call 20,000 soldiers sent off to fight a war that’s long since been lost? In George W. Bush’s politics of denial, they get a clever name: The Surge. It conveys power, momentum, and impermanence—military need and domestic political necessity—all in one word. But strategists argue that any increase is doomed unless it’s permanent. “Our biggest challenge has been convincing Iraqis the United States will be around long enough to help protect them—something so clearly finite doesn’t help,” says Stephen Biddle, senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. And putting these soldiers in harm’s way has only made the war’s critics more rabid, meaning the administration can’t drown out the ever-louder cries to “Bring them home!”
Shiite Cleric; Age: 34
As the major players begin to plan for a post-U.S. Iraq, Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has already burnished his statesman credentials, ordering a cease-fire for his Mahdi army (while still unofficially siccing them on his enemies). He’s also strengthened his grip on parliament and the government, including the Interior Ministry. Now, formerly warring Shiite and Sunni factions are uniting, apparently in the hopes of countering Sadr’s dominance. “This year his influence has been at least as high as it’s ever been,” says Austin Long, a political scientist at the RAND Corporation. “It’s very rare that someone has so much extralegal power—in the form of an armed militia—yet has so much influence within the government.” But Sadr’s real base of power is the street, where among nationalists and Shiite fundamentalists alike, his name is synonymous with resistance to the occupation. “It’s a name to conjure by these days,” Long says. “You saw that at Saddam’s hanging.” And you’ll see it when the last U.S. chopper leaves Baghdad.
Founder and CEO, Blackwater Worldwide; Age: 38
Four years into the war, we learned something about the face of America in Iraq: It isn’t the reconstruction worker building a school or even the U.S. soldier—it’s the wraparound-sunglasses-clad Blackwater mercenary. These private warriors answer to Erik Prince, a conservative Republican with ties to the Bush administration who built his army-for-hire from veterans of elite forces, who are trained at a 7,000-acre facility in Moyock, North Carolina. Since 2003, the private security firm has reportedly earned upwards of $100 million a year by supplying bodyguards to the Green Zone elite. But last September, when Blackwater’s hired guns killed 17 Iraqi civilians in an apparently unprovoked attack in downtown Baghdad, we got a frightening glimpse of what Iraqis have been seeing for years: Prince’s army.
Average Age: 25
To call the Iraq war “another Vietnam” is to overlook one critical difference: This time the protesters aren’t heckling the veterans; they are the veterans. Veterans Against the Iraq War, for instance, which formed three years ago, already has 27 active chapters. Then there was the August New York Times Op-Ed “The War as We Saw It,” written by seven loyal-but-dissenting servicemen on active duty who had ceased to see their purpose in Iraq. When Rush Limbaugh dismissed them as “phony soldiers,” antiwar vet Brian McGough, who had been awarded the Purple Heart, appeared on TV and dared the conservative radio host to utter the epithet to his face. “One of the hallmarks of our success is that now you can say ‘Support the troops: Bring them home,’” says Adam Kokesh, the 25-year-old George Washington University student recently discharged from the Marine Corps for protesting in his uniform. “Even a year ago, if you said that, you’d get laughed at by Middle America.”