US-BR Security/Defense: Q: Why does deep cooperation is so difficult or impossible? A: US does not need a strategic partner in the region such as Israel in the Middle East or India in Asia to contain China. US/BR: A deal that cannot be refused, Brazil gets more money to spend in social programs while the US takes care of defense. (Uziel Nogueira – 27/04/2012)

Mr. Leon Panetta comes to Brasilia and uses his recognized talent to convince Pres Dilma Rousseff to buy a product in which the US is first to none. Namely, security and defense during uncertain and dangerous times. The proposal is strait forward: the US will sell state of art weaponry to Brazil and provide a sea defense umbrella Brazil’s rich off shore oil rigs under construction in Atlantic coast. Brazil could become in South America, the new Japan of the 21st century. Economic prosperity under US military protection. Whether or not Pres Rousseff accepts the offer, remains to be seen. However, from Washington-White House standpoint, the timing is PERFECT for such proposal to fly. Dilma/PT has been making an incredible progress to end poverty and create a middle class. For the first time in its history, Brazil is poised to have a quality jump of progress and prosperity for all citizens. To continue heavy public spending in social programs and science and technology is FUNDAMENTAL to become a developed, prosperous and advanced economy. However, there is a clear trade off between social and military spending. The country cannot afford to do both simultaneously. Either you have more school/good teachers or more soldiers, tanks and fancy weaponry. Brazil is facing his moment of guns or butter question, referred by Paul Samuelson during the Vietnam war. The Obama administration is coming to help Dilma Rousseff and her ruling party, the Workers Party. To understand Obama’s gesture towards Dilma at this juncture, the political context in which Washington establishment operates is required. How Brazil is seen in Washington? The relations US-BR are viewed through the eyes of two schools of thoughts. The first one (the majority of think tanks in Washington DC), does not take Brazil seriously. No position papers are written and debated in those think tanks. Brazil is seen as a tropical country of catholic tradition and millions of poor illiterate people caused by a political system dominated by a small elite. In this school of thought, Brazil’s contribution to the world is commodities, exciting soccer players, god musicians and singers, lots of sun, fun and beautiful women.

The second school, off spring of Kennedy’s Alliance of Progress, takes a positive view of Brazil. There are few ones in Washington DC. They take an optimistic, albeit paternalistic, view of relations between the 2 countries. At the end of any of their debates, the unspoken message is that Uncle Sam knows better. For this school, Brazil is a natural partner and SHOULD be a strong allied of the US for two reasons. First, Brazil is NOT a security threat for the US and never will be. For example, the wish among members of Brazil’s defense establishment to acquire nuclear weapon’s capability is not taken seriously. Second, Brazil plays a fundamental role in providing the US with commodities. Recently, cash rich Brazilians are becoming important consumers for US manufactured products, advanced information and engineering services and tourists. Leftover rock bands of the 60s are making a bundle in live presentations in Brazil. A recent joke is that Jim Morrison will be resurrected from his grave in Paris and do a gig in Sao Paulo with (the still living members) of The Doors. In summary, the White House/State Department think that Brazil is ready for a new partnership. The pillar of this new relation is security and defense. The Department of Defense expects to play a major role in securing sea lanes for transportation of increasing energy supplies from the Southern Hemisphere. Oil exports from Brazil’s huge off shore deposits are seen as crucial for US energy security needs in the future. The geopolitical question posed is: Will Dilma Rousseff trade of the new acquired foreign policy independence for US defense security? the appeal of Obama’s offer for a PT leader is irresistible. Use your money for social spending to end poverty and fight crime. US will take care of external defense. A win-win situation for both parties. Will it fly?

Panetta Urges Brazil to Buy Fighter Jets From Boeing:


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional


  1. An opinion from Washington, DC: Three things connected with highlighted phrases below..Where can I find out more about this offer to “provide a sea defense umbrella for Brazil’s oil rigs”?? Second, I think comparison with Japan is flawed..US defense of oil rigs is not US defense of Brazil; Japan has a full scale security umbrella from US; also I doubt Brazil will be prepared to allow US troops to be based on Brazilian territory. Third, what do you think political reaction in Brazil will be if Dilma accepts the offer of US military protection? What will be reaction of Brazilian military? The PT? Look forward to you.

  2. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Well pointed questions from THE best LA analyst in DC, in my opinion. Let’s tackle the questions.

    1. Sources: As we all know, sources and methods cannot be revealed in the info industry. Let’s say that my source is relatively competent in information-gathering capability. Even though, I have to admit that it is no easy to say such thing with a strait face;

    2. Comparison with Japan is flawed. I beg to differ. US’s tax payers cannot afford the most expensive war machine in the world. Who is going to pay for it? Brazil is growing fast and is cash rich. It needs urgently a credible defense force to protect its borders and, protect offshore rigs. Brazil defense needs and US military might are perfect match. Besides, there is an additional geo strategic bonus for the US. The presence of China in the Southern Hemisphere will be checked and contained. The upside of such agreement is no need of American forward bases in Brazilian territory. Air drones and sea assets can do the job. Returning to Japan/US security agreement. Japan became a close ally of the US after two atomic bombs and losing a war. The case of Brazil is much easier. There is no need of war;

    3. Reaction in Brazil if Dilma accepts US protection? It depends on how the agreement is presented to the Brazilian society. PSDB and Democrats, main opposition parties are ideologically in line with the US. After all, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, when president, was highly favorable to closer integration with the US. If the agreement is presented to the Brazilian society as the US providing military support to strength Brazil’s defense sector, the majority will be in favor. The proposal will be more attractive if money not spent in external defense is be used to improve domestic security. Brazilians are fed up with violence and ineffective policy actions taken to reduce crime and violence;

    4. Reaction from the military. The military can be dealt with two policy measures: First, modernize equipment and materiel in the three forces. This must be done in coordination with the industrial-military complex project undertaken by FIESP. Second, Brazil’s high ranking office corp continues to enjoy good pay and benefits including UN peace missions;

    5. Reaction for the PT. PT’s political leadership and middle level cadre have undergone a profound transformation since the party came to power with Lula in 2003. Power and money have changed the workers party’s ideology. Close relations with the US are not considered anathema to rank and file. As President Lula once said: The dream of an assembly line worker is not to wear an uniform every day. The dream is to dress a George Armani suit…the working class goes to paradise, announced the Italian movie of the 60s;

  3. An opinion from Washington, DC: Great response as always..I still am skeptical, however. You are right about people will react if everyone thinks of their own interests, but people and countries are not always so rational.. Economist depend on the “rational man” for their analysis. You and I may too much depend on the “rational nation or government.”

  4. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: I feel very confident on that. There is a window of opportunity to move US/BR relations to a higher plateau. Domestic and external conditions are set to converge if skilled people are in charge in both sides of the aisle. The only condition: the White House has to take Brazil seriously, for the first time. There is not a SINGLE instance in which the US has made a meaningful concession to Brazil in the last 50 years.

  5. An opinion from Washington, DC: You are right. Did you see the article on Dilma’s visit here—“A certain lack of respect”.

  6. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: Yes, I read the piece. By the way, the body language of Obama listening to Dilma in the Oval Office speaks for itself. It is impossible for any US President –even an afro descendant — to see a Brazilian President as an equal. This, in turn, affects negatively relations between the two countries. While FHC got used to be patronized by Bill Clinton, Lula/Dilma -and the new generation of PT leaders – expect to be treated with respect by the US.

  7. (…..) Still, all needn’t be lost, and recent politicking may present a unique opportunity. Over the past ten days, President Obama has met with leaders from America’s three biggest trade partners in the hemisphere—Canada, Mexico and Brazil—on two occasions. After cooling his heels in Washington this week, Obama should make a speech similar to the one he recently gave in Cushing, Oklahoma, and propose a new basis for hemispheric partnership—energy security. The geoeconomics are straightforward: Latin America is just beginning to tap into a fresh oil and natural-gas bonanza, fuel that can be in Texas within days, as opposed to the six weeks it can take to ship oil from Venezuela to Asia. The technology of U.S. energy companies is absolutely necessary if Brazil is to recover its vast offshore oil reserves; U.S. industry will also be needed if Argentina and Mexico are to tap their shale-gas reserves, estimated to be the third- and fourth-largest in the world, respectively. Thanks to the oil and gas windfall sweeping the Americas, over the next ten years the United States could possibly eliminate oil imports from the Middle East altogether. Already there are inklings in this direction. Last year, Obama nixed the ridiculous tariff on Brazilian ethanol, even as U.S. ethanol exports to Brazil surged. Recently, Secretary of State Clinton and Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa signed an agreement to allow joint exploration over a Delaware-sized swath of the Gulf of Mexico previously under moratorium. Dithering, moreover, poses a strategic challenge. China is rejigging Latin America’s infrastructure to ease the flow of natural resources to Asia. Brazil’s new port complexes aim to quench Chinese demand, and many are financed by China. China is building a “dry canal” across Colombia meant to rival the Panama Canal. In short, Chinese foreign investment in Latin America is geared for the long term and often defies market fundamentals, suggesting Beijing expects a contest among world powers for energy resources in the future. Colombia, Mexico and Brazil are all wary of China’s growing influence in their backyard. Why isn’t the United States? U.S. foreign policy has a rich tradition of fretting about foreign powers using Latin America as the “soft underbelly” through which it is vulnerable to injury. Now, a slight reversion to that old preoccupation might actually do some good. Latin America represents the United States’ soft undercarriage, and China is trying to take control over the region’s resources.


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