Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Strategic Partnership with Brazil?

A delayed reaction to the news posted by Laura Rozen over at Foreign Policy that outgoing Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon is going to be our new ambassador to Brazil. Given that Secretary of State Clinton spoke highly of him in a press conferece prior to the OAS Ministerial meeting, it seems that he is being sent to Brasilia on a mission.

And then I read Andres Oppenheimer's column on "Brazil's growing emergence as Latin America's regional leader."

So it got me to thinking: is Shannon tasked to pursue a strategic partnership between Brazil and the United States in the way that Robert Blackwill was for the U.S. and India when he was appointed ambassador in 2001? I realize that Shannon does not have the relationship, as a career foreign service officer, with president Obama the way that Blackwill had with president Bush, as one of his "Vulcans." But it is still intriguing whether Obama plans to reach out to Brazil. Of course, whether he and his administration can continue the momentum achieved in the U.S.-India relationship is also an open question at this point. But it would be interesting to see whether U.S. diplomacy can be flexible and creative in such a way as to cement strategic partnerships with two of the rising great powers of the 21st century (and with two of the four "BRIC" powers).

What is the nature of the (common) threat that would make a strategic partnership with Brazil plausible?
I see less a direct threat (although keeping the hemisphere safe and its sea lanes of communications open is one area for security cooperation) than moving ahead to consolidate economic and energy ties for mutual propserity.
Anonymous 10:19:

It is best consolidate economic and energy ties for mutual propserity among Canada, Mexico, and US. One has to treat all of North America as a single economic unit and move from there. Say something like EU but for North America -single currency, single central bank, single market.

Brazil is a bridge too far.
Brazil is already cementing its position without the help of the U.S., and it wants a greater international role that America is not likely to concede, so I don't see a partnership as likely.
Brazil is economic newcomer to the primary world stage. Although they have enjoyed a good run of late, they have not enjoyed the economic nor political stability over a prolonged period of time. I believe that the desire for stability and protection from an ever growing threat from neighbors with socialist "house of cards" economies, Brazil may be more open to an alliance than many think.
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