It’s hard to imagine that you could rise to the position of the leader of a global world power without being ready and willing to take risks of the highest level. While conflicts often force President’s and Prime Ministers into situations where risk is inevitable, there are many examples of top world leaders who aren’t afraid to take on risk in times of relative peace.
President Trump (US)
It’s no secret that many people worry that the current US President is not only unafraid of being a risk taker, he actually relishes the feeling. And why not, considering that a large majority of his campaign was based on challenging policies and tugging on the nerve of subjects many politicians do all in their power to avoid. In the early stages of his campaign, many believe President Trump was simply posturing to ensure votes, but the announcement of plans to build the US/Mexico border wall, cracking down on immigration, and other points of interest that are wildly unpopular in large segments of the country, show that this president is treating his presidency like someone with nothing to lose, which may be true since he hasn’t so much as talked about considering running for a second term. So the question that other global leaders must ask themselves is; how do you pressure, negotiate and confront someone who is arguably the most powerful man in the world, and is unwilling to be bullied?
President Putin (Russia)
Putin is a stern leader with a reputation for getting the job done through intimidation and unwillingness to yield on many of his primary convictions. Of all the nations in the world, Russia still sits atop the list of those willing to jab at the US and its allies, which in effect creates conflict that could have global ramifications. You can’t start World War 3, the ultimate risk a leader could take, without the involvement of Russia and the US. And while neither Putin nor Trump may wish for total war, what worries so many is that neither of them is likely to blink when challenged on the subject by their counterpart.
Kim Jong Un (North Korea)
Potentially the greatest risk taker in the world in terms of global political climate, Kim Jong Un continues to run North Korea in a manner that nearly everyone agrees should not be allowed to continue much longer. They’ve been told to suspend missile tests, yet continue to do so. They constantly condemn the actions of other nations yet oppress their own people in ways you don’t see in even the most hardcore dictatorships in other parts of the world. North Korea is aware of the fact that they are stepping out of line frequently. The country has 1.2 million people in its military, and more than 7 million in reserve, giving it one of the world’s largest ground forces. This perhaps gives the leader a false hope of victory if North Korea entered into war with the most dominant allied military force in history. But if pushed, he may shove, cementing his stake as a true risk taker.
The role of the media
Was it easier to take risks prior to mass media? A common question that comes up is whether former presidents and world leaders did less risk taking (and less shady activities) during their time in power, or if it was just easier to hide. With dozens of 24-hour news networks, cameras on every phone and entire organizations dedicated to digging up all the dirt on every person in a position of power, it must give today’s leaders great pause when it comes to taking risks.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy himself called the publisher of a famous newspaper, asking them to hold off on a story that could endanger American lives. In today’s media infrastructure, that seems impossible. An editor isn’t going to give up a story that an Internet blogger may stumble on and be first to publish. Today’s world leaders have to operate under the assumption that if they do something wrong or unethical but continue to take the risk for whatever reason, there’s a strong chance it will reach the public domain eventually.
The trend we commonly see is that it is impossible to lead a top world nation without the willingness to take risks. Being one of the biggest, most powerful leaders in the world puts a target on your back and catches the attention of the other big players on the block. But maintaining a balance and finding a way to make a friend of a foe is truly what ends up making the best leaders.
Looking for more world leaders who knew how to gamble and take the ultimate risks?
Check out this fun infographic revealing the gambling secrets of some of the top heads of state throughout history, brought to you by Planet 7 Casino: