The ironies of President Lula

The Economist examines the effects of Brazil’s increasingly assertive foreign policy. The results may surprise you: Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the country’s left-leaning president, is carving out a role for Brazil as spokesman for poor countries, most notably by founding the G20 group which lobbies for rich countries to open up farm trade. His ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

The Economist examines the effects of Brazil's increasingly assertive foreign policy. The results may surprise you:

The Economist examines the effects of Brazil’s increasingly assertive foreign policy. The results may surprise you:

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the country’s left-leaning president, is carving out a role for Brazil as spokesman for poor countries, most notably by founding the G20 group which lobbies for rich countries to open up farm trade. His government is playing a more active role across South America. And it is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. “Brazil has begun to flex its muscles as a regional superpower,” says Miguel Díaz of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think-tank. If so, it is a paradoxical one. On the one hand, Brazil’s fondest wish is to mitigate the United States’ dominance of global affairs and thereby to enhance Brazil’s influence. The foreign minister, Celso Amorim, calls for “a more balanced world” and justifies the Haiti mission in part as a step towards it. “You can’t be a supporter of multilateralism and when it comes to act say it’s [too] dangerous,” says Mr Amorim. On the other hand, Brazil’s new activism often, though not always, coincides with the interests of the United States. Both countries want democracy and stability in places in the Americas where these seem fragile. In some of those places, Lula’s Brazil has more friends and influence than George Bush’s more abrasive United States. The two sometimes back rivals in these countries, but that is one source of Brazil’s usefulness…. Brazil is taking “more responsibility for calming things down in the region, which the United States finds fantastic,” says Alfredo Valladão of the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris. That is one reason why Brazil has not been shunned by Mr Bush, despite Lula’s opposition to the war in Iraq.

Read the whole thing — there’s a disturbing bit at the end about Brazil’s nuclear program.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

Tag: Theory

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