- By Ian Bremmer<p> Ian Bremmer is president of Eurasia Group and author of the newly released Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World. </p>
By Joao Augusto de Castro Neves
When Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff travels to Washington next week, she won’t be looking for a free trade deal or military assistance. Her country, the "B" that begins the "BRICS," primarily wants recognition — specifically U.S. support for a permanent seat on a revamped U.N. Security Council. But this time around, Rousseff won’t even be getting a state dinner.
Washington, due mainly to bureaucratic inertia, isn’t ready to give Brazil the recognition it wants. Its reluctance may actually encourage other nations to behave in ways contrary to U.S. interests.
Years of macroeconomic stability, sustainable economic growth, and a cluster of successful social policies gave rise not only to a new and thriving Brazilian middle class, but also to Brazilian multinational companies, the so-called national champions. Externally, these changes translated into greater confidence — inside and outside official circles — and a wider scope of international ambitions.
Brazil is beginning to display the characteristics of a regional hegemon — it has attracted more illegal immigrants from surrounding countries, and helped Colombia’s government conduct rescue missions for hostages held by the FARC. And since 2004, Brazil has been leading the U.N. stabilization mission in Haiti. But Brazil’s "holy grail" remains a seat at the Security Council table. And it won’t get recognition (yet) from the most important member of the Permanent Five, whose support it very much covets.
According to many foreign policy specialists in Washington, Brazil does not deserve a place in the top echelons of the U.N. because it is not a nuclear power and is unwilling to share the burden of leadership. Another line of reasoning highlights the fact that the U.S. does not endorse Brazil’s bid — as it did with India — because South America is not a very relevant region in the U.S. strategic chessboard. The remaining argument point to the fact that a potential endorsement could hurt U.S. interests with other key allies in the region, specifically Mexico and Colombia.
Even if some of these considerations may hold elements of truth, at the end of the day they hamper the deepening of relations between the two largest democracies and economies in the Western hemisphere. Brazil could do a better job explaining to the U.S. — and the world — how it would behave as a permanent member of the Security Council; but the U.S. could also rethink some of its arguments against Brazil.
The fact that Brazil is not a nuclear power and that South America is not a relevant strategic hotspot should count in favor of Brazil’s aspirations, not against. If the region is relatively calm, it is because of the collective effort of Brazil and Argentina to end their economic and military rivalry in the 1980s. As a matter of fact, the rapprochement also defused the nuclear component of the rivalry, something that India and Pakistan were not able to do. The U.S. decision to endorse India’s bid and ignore Brazil’s sends a perverse message. It awards a country that snubbed every major nonproliferation regime while punishing a country that willingly adhered to these very same regimes.
Although the repercussion of the endorsement of Brazil’s bid over U.S. interests with key allies in the region is likely to be negative, its importance is widely overplayed. Even nuclear Pakistan’s outright resistance did not factor in U.S. geopolitical calculus when it endorsed India’s bid. In addition, for some time now, the U.S.-Latin American agenda is in fact a collage of increasingly specific bilateral relations. Any dissatisfaction, therefore, could be dealt with bilaterally without any relevant repercussion on the regional agenda.
Next week’s visit by Rousseff is likely to pass without the words that Brazil wants to hear from President Barack Obama. Those words will eventually come from Obama or a future U.S. president, but their absence in the short term will keep relations between the Western Hemisphere’s two most important democracies from reaching their productive potential.
Joao Augusto de Castro Neves is an analyst in Eurasia Group’s Latin America practice.
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. National Security Advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.| The Cable |
Yochi Dreazen is a Managing Editor for News at Foreign Policy. He is also writer-in-residence at the Center for a New American Security. His book about military suicide was published by Random House's Crown division in 2014.
Prior to joining Foreign Policy, Dreazen was a contributing editor at the Atlantic and the senior national security correspondent for National Journal. He began his career at the Wall Street Journal and spent 11 years at the newspaper, most recently as its military correspondent. He was born in Chicago, and later attended the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn, he edited the award-winning daily campus newspaper and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1999 with degrees in History and English. He was hired by the Wall Street Journal immediately after graduation. Dreazen arrived in Iraq in April 2003 with the Fourth Infantry Division, and spent the next two years living in Baghdad as the Wall Street Journal's main Iraq correspondent.
Dreazen has made more than 12 lengthy trips to Iraq and Afghanistan and has spent a total of nearly four years on the ground in the two countries, mostly doing front-line combat embeds. He has reported from more than 20 countries, including Pakistan, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia.
In 2010, Dreazen received the Military Reporters & Editors association’s top award for domestic military reporting in a large publication for a series of articles about military suicide and the psychological traumas impacting veterans of the two long wars. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Smithsonian, Tablet and the New Republic and he appears regularly on TV and radio programs such as NPR's Diane Rehm Show and PBS' Washington Week with Gwen Ifill. Dreazen gives frequent lectures about journalism, the wars and current events to both civilian and military audiences.
Dreazen lives in Washington with his wife, Annie Rosenzweig Dreazen, and their beloved Golden Retriever, Charlie.| The Cable |