Brazil and the United States: A Comparative Overview

 The relationship between the United States and Brazil is intricate and profound, with persistent issues that both bolster and strain the relationship. Nevertheless, the context in which these issues are situated has undergone a significant and swift transformation. In each of these cases, the challenges have been exacerbated by both domestic and international trends: democracy and governance; climate change; criminality; and sustainable development. In order for the relationship to progress, it will be necessary for both parties to adjust. However, there is an additional obstacle: the two nations hold divergent perspectives on the changing international order, particularly in relation to China's role. In order to further its global ambitions, Brazil must revise its comprehension of the geopolitical dynamic in which it is currently situated. In the same vein, if Washington desires a more intimate relationship with Brazil, it must abandon any aspiration to entice Brazil to join an anti-China coalition and acknowledge that an autonomous Brazil, which makes significant contributions to global food security, climate change, and regional security, can contribute to the advancement of a stable international order.

U.S.-Brazil relations have been professional

if under-attended, and stable for a significant portion of the post-Cold War period. However, this has not been the case recently. The election of former U.S. President Donald Trump resulted in uncertainty and disarray, as it did in numerous aspects of American foreign relations. It is ironic that the subsequent election of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro resulted in the establishment of a positive channel at the top, despite the fact that it caused a state of disorder in Brazilian governance. The relationship was left with a significant question mark when U.S. President Joe Biden was elected in Washington, restoring a sense of normalcy to one side of the equation. However, the subsequent ups and downs were insignificant in comparison. The relations between the United States and Brazil have undergone the following changes in the span of just over half a year: The historic return of Lula da Silva to the presidency; the dramatic attack on Brazil's Congress on January 8, which strongly echoed the January 6 attempted autogolpe in the United States; a visit to Brasília by U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, which triggered the rapidly planned Biden-Lula summit in Washington, D.C. a month later; and a powerful statement of shared priorities between the region's two largest democracies.

All of these events were significant

Lula was simultaneously emphasizing the importance of an autonomous foreign policy. He initiated the process by attempting to establish Brazil as a leader in the peace negotiations surrounding the Ukraine conflict, which included the use of shuttle diplomacy by Senior Policy Advisor Celso Amorim. In the context of Lula's trip to Beijing, his statements regarding the U.S. role in "encouraging" the war in Ukraine were the most prominent manifestation of this endeavor. These remarks were met with rare, public, and fierce opposition from the White House.3 The subsequent developments, which were also significant, were met with less fanfare: the United States' decision to allocate $500 million to the Amazon Fund; the election of Dilma Rousseff as the president of the BRICS' New Development Bank, the most significant non-Western ordering institution, at a time when Washington is endeavoring to preserve the current order; the alignment between the United States and Brazil at the International Atomic Energy Agency in response to Chinese efforts to impede the high-priority Australia-U.K.-U.S. agreement on nuclear-powered submarines; and Lula's attendance at the G-7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

This is an impressive feat for a nation that is frequently overlooked and undervalued in a region that receives inadequate levels of attention in Washington. "There has been an underappreciation of the significance of this relationship in both Washington and, crucially, Brasília," as the renowned Brazilian think tank director Matias Spektor has observed.Four However, this is evolving. Regardless of the repercussions of Lula's Ukraine gambit and his rhetoric in China on U.S.-Brazil relations, the last few months have yielded a clear result: Brazil is reestablishing itself as a significant actor in global affairs and the most significant country in Latin America. Although there are long-standing diplomatic, institutional, commercial, and societal connections between the United States and Brazil, the official relationship will be increasingly viewed through the lens of a rapidly evolving world order. This will be through the prism of U.S.-China ties, broader geopolitical competition, and a rapidly changing geo-economic landscape.Six This is not solely due to the fact that the world's leading powers are vying for influence in every region of the world, including the Western Hemisphere; it is also due to the fact that both the United States and Brazil operate under a broader, global perspective. Tom Shannon Jr., the former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, recently concisely stated that "both countries have global ambitions that extend far beyond their geography." Although the geographical address of Brazil may be South America and that of the United States may be North America,

The existential address of both countries extends far beyond our hemisphere.

This implies that the bilateral relationship is not the only issue at hand. Both nations will be engaged in the endeavor to redefine the boundaries of the evolving international order, as they continue to influence the future of the region in the face of their respective internal challenges. Although the United States' role is undoubtedly more significant, prominent officials in Washington are increasingly acknowledging that Brazil is a potential significant partner—and, consequently, a potential significant obstacle—in the endeavor to safeguard and modify critical elements of an international order that is currently experiencing significant challenges. The two critical factors are as follows: Is the United States prepared to accommodate Brazil's desire for a more significant role in global economic, political, and security institutions, as well as a more prominent voice on the global stage? And can Lula's team revise its geopolitical strategy to maintain its emphasis on independent decision-making while also establishing healthy relationships with Washington that are reflective of the significant changes in U.S.-China/Russia relations?


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