THE HEMISPHERE RISES
greater world power means greater, even burdensome,
responsibilities. It is also partly a reflection of broader
structural changes in the world. The assumptions of
global order that were held to be sacred truths in the
1990s are now open to question once again, and they are
under sustained challenge. Big questions of peace and
war, collective security, intervention, hegemony, capitalism, democracy, and culture and identity are back
on the table, and obvious answers are sorely lacking.
As a result, Brazil is under growing pressure to put
forward its own distinctive ideas about global order in
the twenty-first century. Doing so will be enormously
challenging. After all, Brazil is not used to sitting at the
main tables, or having to come up with ideas and policies to solve global problems. Adaptation will take time
and will occasionally produce bizarre policy outcomes.
It will force Brazilian strategic thinkers to abandon
rooted modes of thought that are now rendered obsolete by a new global reality.
Brazil’s propositions for global order will have to win
support in the marketplace of ideas. For this, Brazil’s
vision of global order will have to be modern and embedded in a language that inspires others. Doing this
while remaining true to what is distinctively Brazilian
is a tall order. Meeting this challenge will be a major
test of leadership for Brazil.
While it is clear that success in the global competition
of ideas requires skills that Brazil has yet to acquire, it
would be a serious mistake to underestimate the degree
to which profound ideational change is now underway.
IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES
In the period that coincides with the Barack Obama dministration, the U. S. relationship with Brazil has deteriorated rapidly. Disagreements over Hon- duras, Copenhagen climate-change negotiations
and U. S.-sponsored military bases in Colombia inflamed
mutual distrust of each other’s actions and motives in
international institutions such as the United Nations
and the Organization of American States (OAS).
The latest episode involving Brazil and Turkey’s attempt to open negotiations with Iran over uranium
enrichment illustrates the point. Criticism in Washington met defiance in Brasilia. Now the danger is very
real that acrimony on both sides will turn into mutual
indifference and low-level friction until the next crisis
That would be a serious strategic mistake for both
sides. The U.S. needs Brazil.
Brazil’s identity sits
between the West
and “the rest.” In a
divided world that
to deal with daunting
problems, Brazil can
be a bridge.
On topics such as energy, the environment, narcotics trafficking, poverty alleviation, global finance, food,
and regional security there is no way out: Brazil needs
to sit at the table. Moreover, as a growing donor of international aid and as a contributor to peacekeeping
operations, Brazil can help share the burdens of maintaining world stability.
In turn, Brazil needs the U.S. for its own reasons.
Positive economic transformation at home will not
suffice to see an emerging country through the difficulties that are bound to accumulate abroad. Without the
military capabilities to impose its will, Brazil will need
the support of a major established power to secure an
environment that is conducive to its own rise. No major power today shares as many interests with Brazil as
the United States.
Oddly, however, with a few exceptions, this is not
what people of either country think. If you walk the
corridors of power in Washington, what is often heard
is that Brazil is a nuisance that the U. S. can afford to ignore. If you do the same walk in Brasilia, you will pick
up similarly dismissive attitudes about the U.S., with
the unspoken assumption that Washington will try to
suppress Brazil’s rise because it sees the country as an