A magazine has put President Obama at No. 3 on its list of the 100 Top Global Thinkers.

Foreign Policy magazine ranked billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have pledged to give away half their wealth through global causes, first on the list.

Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize shortly into his term for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," made it to No. 3 on the Foreign Policy list "for charting a course through criticism."

"Sure, the brainy young American president has had a tough sophomore year, with a stubbornly sluggish economy, worsening conditions in Afghanistan, an electoral backlash at home, and the surprise challenge of more than 4 million barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico," the magazine wrote. "His sweeping plans to overhaul immigration and reinvent the way Americans use energy never got off the ground, and he can boast of neither Middle East peace nor mastery over the restive Republicans at home rising up against what they bemoan as the advent of European-style socialism."

Yet he's arguably the world's most popular leader, the magazine argues, "and he is slowly but surely inventing a new kind of U.S. leadership to go along with his vision of an America that once again projects its power through the force of its ideas."

"In many ways, he's the most realist of recent U.S. presidents, determined to focus on the terrible challenges, from Afghanistan to climate change, that he's been dealt," the magazine reasoned. "The world may yet thank him for it."

No. 5 on the list is Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, No. 8 is Gen. David Petraeus, and No. 9 is Defense Secretary Robert Gates.