Peter Hakim at the Inter-American Dialogue has a balanced analysis of why the Obama administration should support Brazil's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and also includes counter-arguments. He has one sentence that jumped out at me:
Washington would simply be acknowledging Brazil’s new global prominence and getting out in front of the inevitable.
I think "getting out in front of the inevitable" applies to many different foreign policy areas. U.S. policy makers, not to mention the general public, all too often believe that sheer might, combined with our deeply embedded sense of exceptionalism, can bend international events to our own will. You can push for your own policy preferences, but it is important to understand when something is going to happen whether you like it or not, and then adjust accordingly.