Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Bolsonaro Part 3: U.S.-Brazilian Relations

In what in my mind has become a series of posts on Jair Bolsonaro, I write today about U.S.-Brazilian relations (see post 1 on elected extremism and post 2 on his impact on the Venezuelan opposition).

By and large, there is not much high-level engagement between Brazil and the United States. It's not really antagonism, but disinterest on the part of the U.S. In her book on U.S.-Brazilian relations, Britta Crandall offers what she calls a "dual priorities" argument, where the U.S. pays attention to Brazil when both countries are particularly interested in something. Brazilian political scientists Tullo Vigevani and Haroldo Ramanzini Júnior note further that Brazil's foreign policy is focused on South American cooperation and leadership without antagonizing the United States. Lula and George W. Bush got along fine. They just didn't have many common priorities.

Now there are common priorities, or at least agreement on the sorts of issues that should be prioritized. The twist is that these commonalities are not really foreign policy. So for example they both like authoritarian law and order. They both are racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBTQ. They both have a military fetish. They both enjoy promoting violence or at least winking at it.

Yet when it comes to bilateral relations or partnerships, there isn't all that much. When Donald Trump tweeted to congratulation him, all he could come up with was that they would work together on trade and "military," the latter of which has no meaning beyond just wanting to write "military" because it sounds good and tough. The only thing left, trade, is actually very difficult because both presidents are deeply nationalist, which pits them against each other. When it comes to tariffs on Brazilian steel, you will find little difference between Dilma Rousseff, Michel Temer, or Jair Bolsonaro.

So what will they cooperate on? Venezuela is sort of one. Both presidents seem to like raising the possibility of using military force (remember the military fetish) but neither seems serious about it. But Bolsonaro doesn't care about the Middle East, or Central American migrants, or NATO. He cares about Mercosur, which Trump has likely never heard of.

For now, they mostly serve as a combined model for anti-democratic political change, even though they do not see themselves this way. I am just not sure what areas they would likely care about cooperation.

Update: Maybe they cooperate on China? I am not sure what form that would take and it might require more coordination than they are capable of, but it merits watching.


shah8 2:51 AM  

Bolsonaro has rejected the notion of military invasion of Venezuela (well, at least for now).

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP