RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – I’m still getting used to that name, Obama, but having an African American as president was a first for the U.S., and a great moment in our history. A short while later, Brazil ended up with Dilma Rousoff’s first female president, another great moment.
I love it, and I was fortunate enough to be a citizen of both societies at the time. But as we all know it comes down to money, and national prosperity, and now these two icons will be mixing it up trying to collaborate, hopefully.
From the U.S. perspective, we’ve got another BRIC, close to home (in our Monroe Doctrine proclaimed turf) that we want to be friends with. Booming Oil industry, the eighth (and soon to be fifth) largest world economy, and the political pressure of the Amazon Rain Forest, all need some TLC.
The fact that China recently overtook the U.S. as Brazil’s largest trade partner, and France is first in line for multi-billion dollar military purchases are not signs of success. Not to mention the difference of opinions/policy on Palestine, Iran nuclear ambitions and the recent cotton trade scuffle.
From the Brazil perspective, the last thing they want is to be subjugated to American imperialism. They may like our electronic gadgets and pop culture, but it’s a love/hate relationship and Brazilians are fiercely proud and independent.
Rightly so of course, and with a level of previously unknown prosperity, why not, and why not protect themselves from colonial style exploitation? Sounds good to me. In the new-new-world future, Brazil can impose more self-serving policy in South America and beyond, leverage it’s assets to improve the life of it’s citizens.
Specifically, maximize Oil and Clean Energy resources, manage the Amazon Rain Forest civilly, and promote a more socially conscious form of government (aside from the few corrupt hypocrites every country hides). Why does Brazil need the U.S., why placate or bother to play nice?
It seems the answer is security. Since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine the U.S. has in effect kept any of the nasty bullies off the hill, except us of course. But back then America was not a Superpower, we were just big enough to push Spain out of the hemisphere.
The last, and perhaps only “big” war Brazil fought in was The War of the Triple Alliance, a South America bloodbath from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. This happened to be about the same time as the American Civil War (a time when we were occupied with our own troubles).
It was the most deadly war in modern South American military history, devastated Paraguay, literally killing most of its male population. Of the approximately 123,000 Brazilians who fought, the best estimates suggest around 50,000 died (about the same amount of Americans that died in Vietnam.)
The point is Brazil has had the luxury of not worrying about being the victim of military aggression for a long time. In turn, the U.S. has enforced favorable trade relations and other empirical transgressions. But like the European Union today, united we stand, divided we fall.
So let’s hope Barak and Dilma hit it off.