Recent/current world leaders who will be remembered as significant historical figures

Jun 2010
Let's say for those in power within the past 30 years, who will have similar level of significance to Caesar, Ghengis Khan, Bismarck, Lincoln, Stalin etc.
Aug 2012
It's hard to judge, seeing as how such figures are too recent in the public imagination, and so what they do is often blown out of proportion.
Thatcher springs to mind. Generations from now, I am very curious if there will still be the level of vitriol there is today towards her. Or if, with the passing of those generations, her story won't be told as much as it is now.

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
I doubt many....
Russia might remember Putin for a could few decades,
Saddam and Gaddafi are probably seared into the respective minds of their countries ... until the next dictator.

But I think we live in age of mediocrity and stagnation.
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Oct 2016
Reagan / Thatcher / Pope John Paul II for their opposition to and ultimate victory over the USSR and communist oppression. Much of Europe was in near slavery for decades.

Stalin once sneered 'how many divisions does the Pope have?'. We know which one ended up in the dustbin of history.
Jun 2017
Shouldn't this be moved to current events because it violates 1991 rule(which is almost all of the 30 year period)?

That being said assuming it will be moved I will answer.

Putin, Xi and maybe Gorbachev(by giving him the credit for the event Sailorsam gives to three other individuals) and among great power leaders I do think that is about it and don't think the US, France and UK have produced anyone even close to fitting that profile since the aftermath of WWII(Eisenhower, De Gaulle, Churchill etc whom I think are largely overrated but are certainly more remembered by history than their successors). Of those three I'm unsure of Putin and Gorbachev is important for his country's decline rather than success, leaving only Xi.

Pope Francis maybe if the decline of religion is reversed. I think a lot of the Middle Eastern dictators mentioned and their importance is more based on US and in some cases Russian policy, rather than them driving events and making power moves. Generally there hasn't been all too much fundamental change on the geopolitical scene after WWII relative to previous era's and as a consequence there haven't been as many political leaders making fundamental changes. I think John Paul II from the above post is a typical example of this(if you're giving him credit for the fall of the USSR and you think history will agree with that assessment, you could be on to something but I see his importance as one that shines brightest in the present or in this case recent past). The changes most of the political leaders since WWII have made are insignificant next to OP's examples.

I do think our current President, Reagan and Thatcher will be judged quite negatively by history and that warms my heart especially the latter two. Our current President and Thatcher I believe will still be seen as major actors regardless, on the other hand I do think Reagan's significance will wane as time passes, a person's lasting importance can't really be judged by their contempararies who are going to be biased by that person driving the most significant events of their lives regardless of how important those events were relative to other era's. That is a subjective call because Thatcher provides the UK with their last military hurrah which will serve as protection for her legacy and our current President is unique in very many ways. Even so I think both will be remembered more in a national rather than international context.

There are two types of historically notable people, those whose fame burns most brightly in the present and those whose fame burns most brightly in the future. The OP's examples are all the latter(we think they are a bigger deal now than their peers would) and I'm hard pressed to name any of that class not just in the past 30 years but the past 60. Most of what I've read and likely what I've posted are going to be in that former group because the reason history is a profession at all is because humans are great at forgetting things.

There are a handful of political figures(I'm thinking of 3) I did not name I believe have potential to be remembered in that light but that is based on what they could do in the near future not what they have actually done.
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Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
it seems evident, nay self-evident, but most great figures stand out. Hitler and Stalin for their evilness, Caesar for his military prowess, or Charlemagne for building a great empire and being a courageous and strong leader.

I don't see many figures today standing out for great or bad deeds, not as all-time greats anyhow. I think these people though in the past 20/30 years stand out in various countries:

USA - Clinton (impeachment), Obama (first non-white POTUS), Trump (first isolationist/anti-globalisation POTUS in decades)

UK - May (worst PM in modern history by far), Thatcher (reversed economic decline), Blair (Iraq...), Brown (Great Recession recovery plan)

China - Deng (created the current economy and regained Hong Kong), Hu (President for Life)

Germany - Kohl (established true German EU dominance which Merkel is exercising)
Sep 2016
I would say Putin, but he is nowhere close to magnitudes of Caesar, Ghengis Khan or Stalin. When I look at Putin, it's hard for me not to be disappointed in him. He is in power for 18 years now, his country has such tremendous resources and many Russians are really talented, but not that grandiose things have been accomplished. Yes, there was downfall of crime, brought back stability and compared to the 90's better financial situation for most, also took Crimea.

But cmon, Russia could've accomplished more than that in 20 years! Putin falls short even to some other Russian leaders, not just world ones. Peter I, Stalin, Catherine the Great, Ivan III - all have greater achievements. You can add Alexander II or Alexander I if you want as well. Maybe Ivan IV Grozny too.
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paranoid marvin

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Trump will stand out as one on his own; unless the US goes down the route of celebrity/sensationalist POTUS, then he is pretty unique.

Thatcher will be remembered in the lifetime of anyone who lived under her, but after that? Probably not at all. I'm guess the same will be said of Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Nixon is just outside of that, but he'll be remembered for Watergate as JFK will be remembered for being assassinated.