Acknowledging the tectonic shift in U.S.-Brazil relations | David Rothkopf

Acknowledging the tectonic shift in U.S.-Brazil relations | David Rothkopf.

Today, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has issued a new task force report on U.S.-Brazil relations that goes a long way toward breaking with the past by recommending the U.S. move toward a new policy stance with regard to Brazil.  The central point of the report is that Brazil must be liberated from the Latin policy barrio and viewed as one of the most important global powers of today and of the century ahead.” 

While it should hardly be seen as revolutionary that a country that is the fifth most populous in the world, encompasses the fifth-largest land mass of any nation, and, at expected rates of growth, will within a few years be home to the fifth-largest economy in the world should be seen not just as a leading regional power but as a vitally important global player, historical habits and old policy frameworks are hard to undo. Yet, this report effectively does so, enumerating the ways that Brazil has come to play a central global role on issues from trade to climate, from energy to shaping global economic policy. Yet for all its comprehensiveness and sweep, the one recommendation of the report that is sure to gain the most attention is its welcome recommendation that the Obama administration “now fully endorse” Brazil as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council.”

Because the United States has never really gotten over the idea that Brazil should take a back seat to U.S. policies, however, it didn’t treat the difference over this issue like it does its myriad differences with, say, other BRICs like China, Russia, or India. Rather, it has continuously sought to penalize the Brazilians for their independence, most notably through withholding a full endorsement of Brazil’s Security Council aspirations, of the type the United States had already offered to India. This despite the fact that the United States has had many equivalent or greater policy disagreements with the Indians, including one, for example, over India’s own nuclear weapons program.”

“… the old Latin policy hands who would argue, as hinted at in a dissent to the task force report, that the United States needed to go to slow with Brazil lest it offend other aspirant regional powers like Mexico or even Chile. Yet there is clearly no reason why these countries could possibly think they should be accorded similar status to Brazil beyond their healthy national pride. Do you think that there was a big debate among Asia-Pacific policy hands about how Indonesia (more populous than Mexico) or Australia (larger economy than Mexico) would feel about supporting India?  Of course, not.”


One thought on “Acknowledging the tectonic shift in U.S.-Brazil relations | David Rothkopf

  1. Ana Alves Post author

    For the US, supporting Brazil is not as much a matter of “offending” other aspirant regional powers like Mexico or even Chile” but rather of opening the way for an increased Brazilian influence over what had been previously almost exclusively the “American backyard.”


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