CEBRI - The United States and Brazil Aligned? Opportunities and Challenges

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The United States and Brazil Aligned? Opportunities and Challenges

17/09/2020

This paper examines the historical background and current state of U.S.-Brazil relations at a time when administrations on both sides are trying to produce some form of foreign-policy alignment.
We argue that the current move on the part of the Trump and Bolsonaro administrations to converge around a set of common approaches to regional and global politics is likely to bump up against both domestic and international challenges and constraints. From this, at least three sets of policy implications do follow:

Palácio do Planalto are likely to struggle to sustain any serious attempt at alignment as long as Brazil remains peripheral to the geopolitical concerns of the United States, and as long as Brazilian incumbents do not need American economic and political support to secure their own domestic political survival.
For the foreseeable future, Washington and Brasília will likely operate under domestic political constraints. There is little appetite among the major constituencies within each country to embark upon costly policies of foreign-policy convergence. Leaders will therefore have to be prepared to handle the disagreements that are bound to emerge constructively.
It is far from preordained that the growing geopolitical footprint of China and Russia in Latin America will translate into tighter ties between Brazil and the United States. A deep-seated history of mutual suspicion may provide for a hemisphere that grows increasingly divided moving forward.
 
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