Brazil Is a Western Nation: It’s Time Europe and the United States Remembered That - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Brazil Is a Western Nation: It’s Time Europe and the United States Remembered That

Not born but begotten from the blood of conquerors and missionaries, Brazil shares more than just common ancestry with its Western partners. It became independent from its colonizer in the early 19th century, continued on as a monarchy — coronated by the Roman Catholic Church — and was reborn as a republic in 1889. By 1926, the Enlightenment had taken more than a firm grip. The amendment process ensured that the Old Republic held within it all the political tenets deemed sacrosanct by the American founders. Separation of powers à la Montesquieu, democracy, private property, subsidiarity, and separation of Church and state were ingrained deeply in the soul of the nation. And even beyond values and domestic policy, Brazil had great admiration for its European and American brothers. The Latin American giant contributed to the Allies’ war effort by defeating the Nazis in naval warfare in the Southern Atlantic, had a policy of automatic alignment with the U.S. that lasted until 1960, and was a founding member of the United Nations. By all accounts, Brazil was a beacon of hope and opportunity for the expansion and development of a Western order.

Yet, today, we Westerners no longer see it as such. Brazil’s hope for inclusion as a staunch and politically equal member of the trans-Atlantic alliance has been lost in history. Its Christian nature, however, remains strong; its republican form, still untarnished. At times, it seems almost reminiscent of the once young, full-of-hope, and bleary-eyed West. But this close and fundamental relationship with Europe and the United States has been put into question in recent years. Under then–President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil founded the “pro-multipolarity” group BRICS, strengthening ties with the West’s primary strategic opponents: Russia and China. This has found continuity not only in an expanding trade relationship with the latter nation, now amounting to 32 percent of total exports, but likewise in current President Jair Bolsonaro’s foreign policy of neutrality toward Russia’s violations of international law.

All it would take to unleash Brazil’s dormant strength would be some sweat, faith, and strategic thinking.

In 1993, writing for Foreign Affairs magazine, Samuel Huntington predicted that global multipolarity and the absence of universalized value systems would eventually coalesce in a clash of civilizations. The theory has been contested, but global developments and alliances today seem to support it. With the ever more prosperous Middle East pushing for greater unity grounded in common Islamic values, as well as Russia and China banding together as powers defined in opposition to Western liberalism, there is great cost to not fighting to find alliances in regions still up for grabs. The Trump administration almost completely ignored the African continent in its foreign-policy strategy. This negligence enabled China to continue pushing the Belt and Road Initiative — bringing it uncontested diplomatic gains. Europe and the U.S. risk making the same mistake in Latin America, losing Brazil to the illiberal Eastern alliance, especially in the presence of an unfriendly administration.

But why should the West care about the tropical giant? As a nation of infinite unactualized potential, it has always lacked a presence of leadership among the international community. All it would take to unleash its dormant strength would be some sweat, faith, and strategic thinking. If Western governments begin to incentivize and facilitate, in cooperation with Brazil, the movement of capital into the country and greater trade liberalization — and, in the tradition of the late George Marshall, implement an apparatus for the provision of exclusive low-interest loans — the country’s centrality to global power politics could fundamentally change. In a world where value systems are conflicting ever more dramatically, we just cannot afford to continue losing the economic competition for Brazil’s allegiance.

But bringing the Western slant of economic prosperity to Brazil isn’t sufficient. The nation also needs to be reminded of its Western identity. One step to accomplish this is to grant it NATO partnership status. This would not only signal utmost faith in the Brazilian spirit but also assert that the West considers it to be a power among equals. Obviously, Brazil is not in the North Atlantic and has nothing to gain politically from becoming a full-fledged member of the organization, bound by Article 5 commitments of mutual defense. Nonetheless, the country remains instrumental to Atlantic climate-security interests because of the Amazon — and it is in Brazil’s interest to take advantage of NATO’s manpower and training resources to assure its own good governance and global standing. As such, with Lula’s administration soon to take power, moving in for partnership status with Brazil is a natural next step for Western powers.

Finally, with Bolsonaro’s term now fading in the distance and another chance for rapprochement wasted, it is time we stopped sidelining Brazil as a nation of the “tropics” — seen as merely secondary to the powers that be. Economic interdependence and security partnership are a solid way of helping Brazil with its woes, but they especially demonstrate a renewed faith in the country’s ability to actualize the potential of which it has long dreamed. The narrative surrounding the relationship, however, is even more important than the help itself. They may help nudge Brazil toward remembering an age past, grounded in common Atlantic values and intrinsic cultural appreciation for the Judeo-Christian principles of the West. To accomplish this, however, Europe and the United States need to reevaluate their policy toward Brazil in order to fortify a true Western order.

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