Tuesday, December 23, 2008

France Shows Interest in Fostering Brazil

Given the holidays, this post will be a bit short.

Sarkozy is Maintaining his reputation as a hyperdiplomatic machine by reaching out to Brazil while his ties with Syria wait and cool for the next few elections to roll through in the US, Israel, Iraq, and PA--maybe in Iran, too. Sarkozy makes France one of the first major powers to seriously acknowledge Brazil's ascendancy. Such treatment, if it became a norm, would give Brazil great power-level influence.

In this diplomatic blitz, Sarkozy has done two things. First, he has signed an arms deal to sell $12billion of goods, including 50 EC725's (Multi-Mission aircraft) and 5 conventional submarines. Why they really need the submarines is unclear, except perhaps for domestic industrial development. The deal is diplomatically significant for 2 reasons: 1) neither the US nor Russia were picked, implying that the Brazilians would like to stay neutral in this Cold War that seems to be brewing; 2) The French benefit by making themselves stand out on the Continent--these kinds of deals, should they stack up, will ratchet up the perception of France's world power--and perceptions matter.

Second, Sarkozy has made calls for Brazil to become a "world leader" and the sixth Permanent Security Council member. This kind of recognition has been seldom bestowed onto a middle-power--to Japan, briefly, without much seriousness. Not to India or Germany. But such a recognition would likely cause Eurasian powers to begin to think about looking to Brazil as the gateway to the entire South American continent. With the Monroe Doctrine whittled away by American negligence of the region, it lies open and waiting for influence or leadership. Interestingly the French are trying to hoist Brazil up to the level of France's continental neighbors, rather than looking to Brazil as an opportunity to project power throughout the region.

Brazil as a recognized regional leader will almost certainly be seen as positive to all parties. The Brazilians are friendly with the US, but skeptical (though this will change a bit with the Obama administration, almost certainly). The Brazilians are avoiding the temptations of the Russians (that the Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, and Bolivians are warming to) to join what appears to be a Russian-orchestrated anti-American proto-alliance (including such upstanding states as Iran and Belarus). The Brazilians are taking the Middle Way, much like the French are: warm to the Americans, cordial to the Russians, willing to talk to everyone. Such leadership would bring stabilization, great-power representation, and an inlet for economic investment to South America, and probably go a long way in combating the strange tendencies towards national socialism and tinpot dictators like Chavez. When South America becomes Brazil's backyard--rather than America's--it'll be a very different place.