Monday, November 23, 2009

Brazil in the Middle East

As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad begins his visit to Latin America, most attention will be on the deep opposition of the U.S. to the visit. The Americas Blog at Aljazeera notes another angle that is starting to receive more attention: Lula's desire to project Brazil into the Middle East peace process. He has already hosted Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas:

I spoke about peace with President Shimon Peres, with Mahmoud Abbas and I will speak with Ahmadinejad about it. I am going to speak about it because I think only peace can guarantee the growth of countries, and tranquility of peoples and a better life for people. I have a notion of the significance of the conflicts in the Middle East. I have a notion of the role of Iran, and that of Israel, and the role of Palestine, and of Syria.

A bold move. From the NYT:

Brazilian officials say the holy grail of Mr. da Silva’s Middle Eastern initiative is to improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and they see Iran as a key player in resolving the conflict.

But before Lula dives too deeply into one of the most difficult conflicts in the world, he still has to figure out what to do with Mel Zelaya, who is sitting in his Honduran embassy with a very uncertain future.


Justin Delacour 12:24 PM  

I appreciate your open-mindedness with regard to Lula's peace overtures. My apologies for being too harsh in my judgements of you over a previous post.

Anonymous,  12:58 PM  

Lula needs to realize that this whole talk of Brazil as a world power is not based on reality. Brazil can't even get tiny little Honduras in his own time zone to pay attention to them, yet he thinks the world is looking for Brazilian leadership? And let's not forget the irony of opposing Micheletti but receiving Ahmadinejad.

Lula's one contribution to Brazil was showing that the left can win and govern without making a mess of things. Now Brazil needs some real domestic leadership to push up investment and growth. Brazil remains a pretty poor nation, particularly for one that has such global ambitions...

leftside 2:52 PM  

I guess folks in Washington are finally realizing that Brazil has a different conception of the world than the US. As such, a lot of the usual suspects seem to be souring on Brazil and Lula fast.

I would be careful about sauing that this is part of "Lula's desire to project Brazil into the Middle East." As the FM Amorim “It wasn’t Brazil that went looking for the Middle East, it was the Middle East that went looking for Brazil.”

The visit shows a deep confidence by Brazil. I think there is real important politics at work here. As Lula said: “The world needs a new economic order. Iran and Brazil have independent positions in relation to the international situation. … The two can work together to help create a new international order."

Of course, this is the real problem US elites have with the visit. The fear an independent block of States willing to publicly, loudly challenge the US view of things.

Justin Delacour 9:16 PM  

Of course, this is the real problem US elites have with the visit. The fear an independent block of States willing to publicly, loudly challenge the US view of things.

I think the challenge is more modest than that. Brazil doesn't loudly challenge the US. The challenge is not that Brazil will ally itself with Iran --I don't anticipate any such alliance-- but rather that Brazil will humanize Iran. That's what the Washington establishment can't stand. The establishment wants governments like those of Iran and Venezuela to appear quasi-inhuman. The establishment thinks that painting such governments as inhuman maximizes the establishment's options vis-a-vis said governments. So Brazil becomes a problem for the establishment because Brazil humanizes Washington's bogeymen.

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