Brazil: Has it Finally Arrived in the Future? -SOUTHCOM-FIU

Brazilian Strategic Culture-November 2010 (Click for pdf version of full report), by Luis Bitencourt and Alcides Costa Vaz
Quotes culled by Jenny Grubbs

Note: page numbers included here reflect the pages of the pdf document, not the internal pagination. No time to fix.

The Brazilian National Defense Strategy underscores and builds perceptions of security upon peace and the peaceful resolution of conflicts. It is remarkable that the first word in the Brazilian National Defense Strategy (December 2008) is "peace." P .4

Nevertheless, this does not mean that Brazilians have been completely averse to utilizing violence or becoming embroiled in conflict. Yet, mass and fervent belief in peace as a constitutive, cultural element provides a cornerstone for a Strategic Culture that prizes negotiation and accommodation over war and conflict. P. 4

In the Latin American "collective consciousness"—that is, the set of collective beliefs and values that shape a society and its political culture—"war" has had a bold and inescapable presence since the formation of the region. p. 8

The first flag of Brazil as a Republic, inaugurated on November 15, 1889, exhibits an explicitly positivist influence on the formation of the State; that is, the flag enshrines the motto "Order and Progress" as representative of Brazilians' identity, purpose, meaning, and worldview. P. 11

All of these projects serve to illuminate the degree to which Brazil seeks to become an active power player within the region and globally but through diplomacy and economic development as opposed to expansionist aims based on the threat or use of force. P. 12

In general, it is quite extraordinary to contemplate the fact that historically, Brazil has for the most part been able to avoid the rampant violence that has plagued its neighbors, and that it has been able to expand its territory non-violently despite the formal limits placed upon it from external sources of authority. P. 14

Indeed, territorial and cultural homogenization under the banner of being Brazilian has had a formative impact on the evolution of Brazilian Strategic Culture. Brazilians take for granted not only the territorial dimension but also the sense of belonging to the geo-political entity known as Brazil. This directly explains why Brazilians do not have territorial ambitions and why they consider Brazil to be a "satisfied and status quo country." p. 15

But in what would perhaps become another, yet less apparent, formative factor in the evolution of Brazilian Strategic Culture, secret codicils to that treaty were agreed upon. P. 17

Transformation of Brazil from a monarchy into a republic happened in 1889, and affected Brazilian Strategic Culture in that Strategic Culture became tinctured with positivist notions of order and progress. P. 18

Therefore, Brazilian political culture, when placed in a broader national perspective, has evolved from a positivist value framework and an array of political, social, and cultural practices, some dating from the colonial period and extending into the present context. P. 21

Therefore, the uneven distribution of power and its concentration in only one or two actors is regarded as a source of instability. National development and the intent to change its international status quo require the development of capabilities and the exercise of active multilateral diplomacy aiming at influencing rule making and decision making at the international level. P. 25

But when it comes to dealing with political changes at the international level, Brazil resorts to a neoliberal institutionalism stance as it advocates the strengthening of international institutions (that is, multilateralism, international law, and diplomacy) as a means to achieve a more balanced and equitable world order. P. 25

In this sense, Brazilians do not see any direct or explicit enemies, but see several adversaries in the larger context or game of international politics and economics. They consider that this game is played according to internationally accepted and enforceable rules, and not solely on the grounds of the harsh realities defined by uneven distribution of hard power. P. 26

Its identity as a regional power ranges: at one extreme, Brazil can be portrayed as a self-interested regional hegemon, given its sundry power assets vis-à-vis its neighbors, but still unable to realize its political, strategic, and economic interests or to counter other states—especially the regional influence of the US, relying primarily on its own capabilities and resources; at the other extreme, Brazil can be envisaged as a benevolent regional leader that deals with collective concerns and responses to national and global challenge p. 27

(this section title is particularly offensive, so I thought I’d include it) “Has Brazil Finally Arrived in the Future?”

(and the quote goes on to say…) For decades, Brazilians have mocked the phrase coined by the military dictatorship, "Brazil: The Country of the Future!" by adding to it "...And it will ever be." Nowadays, however, as recognized by The Economist (November 11, 2009), it seems that Brazil is finally living up to the expectations raised by its potential. P. 27

Indeed, for decades, the Brazilian economy had inspired all but confidence from the international market and investors. Actually, the lack of confidence was rather justified by persistent and disappointing economic results, a 1987 debt default, and a 2003 financial crisis. P. 28