If you took a poll of the world on September 16, 2013 and asked who is the world’s top superpower, the vote would be close.  Recent events surrounding Syria would make a serious argument for the case for or against the United States and Russia.

Vladimir Putin as leader of Russia can be described as decisive. He was a leader who seized an opportunity to prevent an escalation of war. Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry seem to have stumbled into an agreement that staved off American intervention in Syria.

The debate could be flipped on its head as well. Putin could be eager to wriggle free of an unstable Syria and took even a flippant offer from Kerry as an avenue for peace. That would explain America as the top nation in the superpower hierarchy.

As we go forward, we now see Russia and America emerging as the clear-cut leaders in the worldly order. For all the folks who see Putin maneuvering toward Alpha Dog status, remember that the leader of Russia is a former member of the KGB, one of the most ruthless intelligence gathering organizations on the planet. Plus there is the mystery of journalists critical of Putin who end up dead for some reason.

For all the folks who look at America who look at this shining beacon, remember that our own NSA has open access to a good chunk of what we do on our phones, the internet and purchase records. Some of that is our own fault, because we’re so willing to put it out on Facebook and Twitter for anyone to see. (HELLO!!) Plus we have an IRS that has immense amounts of access to our financial and medical information. Then there’s this little matter of wiretapping of news organizations like the Associated Press by the Justice Department.

There is a clear distinction that the governments of the U.S. and Russia are number one and number two in the world. Less than clear is if one or both will treat us like “number one” or “number two” going forward if we trust them in their leadership.