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Brazil Marching To A Different Drum

Brazil, last seen obsessing over rumors of a US plot to take over the Amazon, has since begun to fight back against real-life invaders. Various observers report that the Brazilian military has gone on the offensive on its own soil this month to push out heavily armed militias controlled by drug cartels that have set up shop in the lawless Wild West territory that is Amazonas State. With thousands of troops, dozens of warplanes, and even drone aircraft on the scene, the central government is making an unprecedented show of force.

The offensive points to a couple of trends in Dilma’s Brazil that signal opportunities for partnership with the United States. The first is a willingness to tackle drug smuggling in a reasonably serious way.  Brazil’s political classes aren’t trying to please the United States; they are  outraged at the threat to national sovereignty represented by the power of the increasingly brazen cartels.

The second interesting point is that Brazil’s Amazonian adventure requires close political and military cooperation with Colombia. Colombia has been the staunchest American ally in South America over the last decade.  Hugo Chavez and his Axis of Anklebiters have done their best to isolate and pillory Colombia, and the close cooperation between Colombia and the US has been a favorite whipping boy of Latin leftists who see all kinds of dark annexationist plots at work.

Brazil’s march to the center continues.  Celso Amorim, recently appointed defense minister, served as foreign minister under President Lula; it will be interesting to see if the era of warm feelings continues under the leadership of a figure associated with the more nationalist and anti-US wing of the Brazilian foreign policy establishment.

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  • carvaka

    sorry for this irrelevant comment.
    but since you seem to be interested in these sorts of news – india is raising two defensive mountain division (last year’s news , to be honest) and an offensive mountains corps . all of these will be permanently based in eastern and north-eastern india along indo-china border.

  • bartok

    Sorry, but you’re being much too optimistic. Between Lula’s and Dilma’s government there’s only a distiction without a difference. Dilma’s 100% Lula’s creation & creature, with 0 of real autonomy vis-à-vis the old fox.

    During Lula’s tenure, the Itamaraty (Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Ministry)turned from its tradional very cautious and somewhat balanced nationalistic orientation to a very different one: it became highly activistic and joined forces with Hugo Chavez and his Bolivarian ideology/project.

    Even more than Chavez’s ally, Lula became his follower, since he didn’t have a foreign policiy himself. As Brazil’s foreign service always had a rather populist-leftist, paranoid-nationalistic, anti-protestant-anglo-saxon pro-ressented-Third World-Latin American faction, these are the guys who were given the upper hand — and they’re still at it.

    As, in contrast with Venezuela’s, Nicaragua’s and Cuba’s “carnivorous” left, Lula’s PT (Workers’ Party) was almost universally seen as much more moderate, “vegetarian”, as it used to be said, the Itamaraty started to promote Bolivarian goals in a “neutral”, “disinterested” way, doing things that Venezuela couldn’t do because, unlike Brazil, it was (rightly) seen as very partisan.

    Thus Brazil managed to get putschist, Bolivarian ex-president Zelaya back into Honduras and allowed him to try and regain power from the safety of Brazil’s local embassy. And it was not Venezuela, but Brazil who allied itself with Turkey to try and protect Iran from the toothless international sanctions.

    That was not all: far from it. And the main, but not only, architect of all those Brazilian initiatives was exactly Amorim. His people are still entrenched in the Itamaraty, and he has been chosen as defense minister exactly because that’s where the main opposition to his (and Lula’s and Dilma’s) policies was. He’s there to break its backbone.

    Now, most drug cartels in the region are allies, when not an integral part, of Colombia’s leftist anti-government guerrilla, and, for over eight years, Brazil’s policy has been to back and protect this guerrilla and to subvert Colombia’s government.

    Whatever is being done right now cannot be said to represent a political or ideological shift in Brazil’s foreign alliances or goals. But first, in order to understand this, it’s necessary to put aside the image of a moderate, “vegetarian” Brazilian left. The simple truth is that Brazil has been playing good cop to Venezuela’s (Nicaragua’s, Cuba’s, Bolivia’s, Ecuador’s and even Iran’s) bad cop.

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