Good neighbor 21


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Good neighbor 21

  1. 1. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE Newport, R.I. “GOOD NEIGHBOR 21” AND THE ROLE OF BRAZIL by Guilherme Wagner de Azevedo Cordeiro Lieutenant Commander, Brazilian Navy A paper submitted to the Faculty of the Naval War College in partial satisfaction of the requirements of the Department of National Security Decision Making. The contents of this paper reflect my own personal views and are not necessarily endorsed by the Naval War College or the Department of the Navy. Signature: 25 April 2005 Theodore Wu, Professor
  2. 2. Abstract “GOOD NEIGHBOR 21” AND THE ROLE OF BRAZIL The paper will address the fact that sociopolitical stability in the Latin America cannot be taken for granted. There are non-traditional security issues that can pose threats to the United States or to its interests in the future. The U.S. foreign policy should change the way it sees Latin America and work on changing the way the United States is seen in the region. This paper will argue that a 21st century version of the “Good Neighbor” policy can make such change of mindsets possible and that the best way to start it is turning Brazil from “part of the problem” into “part of the solution”. The country’s pivotal state role will facilitate the completion of the change. i
  3. 3. Azevedo INTRODUCTION Since the United States took over the most influential role in Latin America from Europe after World War I, it has been a commonplace to see the region as “U.S. backyard”. The relative calm and peace of Latin America in comparison with a global security environment marked by threats such as terrorism and weapons mass destruction (WMD) proliferation are the U.S. excuses for not working on a long-term agenda for the region. With the exception of major current concerns—immigration, cartels and guerrillas in Colombia, transnational crime, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez—the policy for the region is on the edge of neglect because there are neither records of WMD use nor operational activities of terrorism targeting the United States. Keeping a reactive strategy for the next decades can prove to be a mistake. If U.S. foreign policy does not use the tools of diplomacy to address the causes of uncertainty in the region, maybe solving eventual crises—directly or indirectly, after they start—can become more costly and divert important resources badly needed in other “theaters”. Besides that, the U.S. influence in the region can be challenged by China and European Union (EU) if they manage to establish strategic partnership as result of successful public diplomacy efforts. This scenario will probably change if the United States really intends to approach the negotiations of the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA) in a multilateral way. Besides Castro and the immigration issues from Central America and Caribbean, the major sources of uncertainty are related to South America. Countries followed the “prescriptions” of globalization, issued by intergovernmental (IGO) and nongovernmental (NGO) organizations with U.S. influence, but the majority of population in South America have not benefited yet. Each country that experienced military dictatorship returned to 1
  4. 4. Azevedo democratic rule in a different pace. Social inequality, poverty and unemployment mixed with weak institutions favor charismatic leaders who usually blame United States for everything that goes wrong and provide fertile ground for destabilizing non-state armed groups (revolutionary guerrillas, organized crime gangs and drug cartels). In the South American context, United States could gain a lot from working together with Brazil. Sharing borders with all but two countries in the continent, Brazil is a major economic power, is historically successful in and committed to negotiated solutions through international institutions and, since the end of the authoritarian regime, follows a constitutional principle of regional integration1. STABILITY It is not a matter of defending Dependency Theory but economy in its most recent trend—globalization—is responsible for a great part of the social problems and of the failure of institutions and governments in Latin America. In the 1990s, countries of the region followed much of the “Washington Consensus”—trade liberalization, openness to foreign capital, privatization of state enterprises, competitive exchange rates and deregulation—but failed to be that assertive about fiscal discipline and public spending. Although these reforms seemed to improve macroeconomic marks, poorly coordinated structures and financial crises deteriorated the initial benefits before people could perceive them. United Nations conducted a poll in 18 countries of the region in order to judge how local populations see the civilian-ruled democracy. The results showed that almost 55% of all Latin Americans would prefer an authoritarian regime to a democratic government if authoritarianism could solve countries’ economic problems2. 2
  5. 5. Azevedo The stability in the region as a whole is apparent. The removal of Ecuadorian President Lucio Gutierrez can be seen as a sign that general situation did not improved a lot since, for example, the day President Fernando de la Rúa had no choice but to resign after violent popular riots and demonstrations in 2000. The leaders of Andean countries are about to live “the worst of both worlds”: lack of popular support and increasing activity of destabilizing non-state actors such as the well known Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC - Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) which has control of part of Colombian territory. Although restricted to those sectors directly involved with the continent, national security system (NSS) participants are starting to voice their considerations about the existent and the potential situations. General Bantz J. Craddock, United States Army, Commander, United States Southern Command, concluded this way his statement to Senate Armed Services Committee last March: “We cannot afford to let Latin America and the Caribbean become a backwater of violent, inward-looking states that are cut off from the world around them by populist, authoritarian governments. We must reward and help those governments that are making difficult, disciplined choices that result in the long-term wellbeing of their people. The challenges facing Latin America and the Caribbean today are significant to our national security. We ignore them at our peril.”3 BRAZIL – PART OF THE PROBLEM Even with strong bureaucratic resistance to reforms and generalized corruption—with money from drugs business in most of the cases4—among politicians, judges and law enforcement agencies, a serious risk to democratic institutions is unlikely. The most organized social movement—Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST - Landless Workers' Movement)—is responsible for occupation, sometimes with violence, of farms and public buildings in the cities. The intelligence community, led by Agência 3
  6. 6. Azevedo Brasileira de Inteligência (ABIN – Brazilian Intelligence Agency), pays close attention to MST and other similar movements. In terms of violent actions, the major security threat is posed by organized crime and its heavily armed groups. Because of the country’s continental dimensions, their destabilizing potential is concentrated in major cities. Their actions include drugs and arms trafficking, bank robbery and kidnappings. Because of the great volume of drugs that passes through its territory on the way to the United States, Brazil has been mentioned in the Annual Presidential Determinations of the Major Illicit Drug-Producing and Drug-Transit Countries for 20055. The porosity of Brazilian borders in the Amazon region allows FARC to use them as routes for smuggling of arms and drugs. The ties between FARC and the drug lords are very close. A sinister example of that is the joint venture of recruiting retired soldiers and corporals of the Brazilian special operations forces6. The relatively new Ministry of Defense—it was created in 2000—faces the huge challenge of projecting power in such a vast region and, at same time, attending requests for assistance from other ministries. To make matters worse, since the end of military rule in 1985, the defense budget has decreased constantly. The most significant security trouble is economic stability. After solving the hyperinflation problem in 1994, Brazilian financial authorities kept an austere monetary policy with very high interest rates. This and the privatization process attracted volatile capitals—known also as “hot money”, funds invested in assets that can be bought and sold quickly—to the economy but it did not increase domestic savings or investments in infrastructure. Brazil decided March this year not to renew the credit deal with the 4
  7. 7. Azevedo International Monetary Fund (IMF) because macroeconomic indicators show some favorable conditions for development. However, IMF directors “noted that public debt was still high and sensitive to global financial conditions”7. Directly linked to the failure in achieving sustainable growth is the “social apartheid”. The differences between classes are huge and evident. It is improbable but not impossible that the combination of very high levels of social inequality and violent crime can be used as an argument for the rise of populist groups which sell the idea of the “benevolent dictatorship”. Still in the economic field, Brazil is turning out to be a good negotiator in international trade. En bloc—Mercado Comum do Cone Sul (MERCOSUL - Common Market of the Southern Cone) and the developing nations’ Group of 20 (G20)8—or alone, Brazil’s recent “victories” were against U.S. interests to some extent. Last September, for example, World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against farm subsidies paid by United States (cotton) and European Union (sugar). Brazilian government is putting a lot of effort in strengthening the commercial ties with other developing regions around the world in an attempt to exert some kind of leadership in trade issues. It is also working on bilateral MERCOSUL-European Union free trade agreement and taking advantage of fact that China is courting Latin America diplomatically and economically. The administration of the ports at both ends of the Panama Canal is done by a Hong Kong company9. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the region last November and sealed agreements that sum 30 billion dollars in investments in Brazil and Argentina in the next ten years. 5
  8. 8. Azevedo “GOOD NEIGHBOR 21” According to “backyard” mentality, Latin American countries have no decisive role in the International Political System (IPS). The United States should not take this for granted and run the risk of losing their support. On trade, for example, the notion that geographic proximity between markets is not so important anymore is degenerating to a globalization cliché but it is being proved true with the growing Chinese and E.U. interest in the continent. The policy for the region is changing to accommodate to the new world economic order. At least in theory, the United States sees multilateralism as fundamental to the negotiations of the FTAA—“a free trade area from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego”10. But there are things that need to be changed: the tone of U.S. foreign policy and the way it is perceived by IPS actors. The reports by Government Accountability Office (GAO) and other groups that address U.S public diplomacy and strategic communication11 point out the lack of strategic direction and barely mention Latin America, exception made to the “usual suspects” (Cuba and Colombia). Domestically, the various actors have little or no interest in other Latin America issues than immigration, drugs, Cuba, Colombia and, more recently, Venezuela. Then, it is advisable to launch a cultural offensive on both international and domestic systems in parallel with the commercial talks that permeate current relations. This was done successfully in the 30s and 40s of the last century under the “Good Neighbor” policy. It seems appropriate to study and adapt it to the reality of the new century in some sort of “Good Neighbor 21” as an alternative to the “backyard” model. As it happened in the period between Great Depression and World War II, the United States needs regional support to 6
  9. 9. Azevedo face challenging times ahead. Historical precedent. President Franklin D. Roosevelt continued the implementation of the "Good Neighbor" policy, initiated during his predecessor’s term12, in relation to Latin America, when the active U.S. intervention of late 1800s and early 1900s gradually gave place to the search for hemispheric solidarity against external threats. In his inaugural address on assuming the Presidency for the first time, Roosevelt declared: “In the field of world policy I would dedicate this Nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others—the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.”13 In the following years, the U.S. foreign policy for the region was based in active participation of the President and the Cabinet-level authorities in addressing relevant issues of the agenda such as trade and defense. Latin American countries welcomed this sense of importance and became more supportive. As another characteristic of what would be called later “soft power”, President Roosevelt, created in August 1940, the Office of the Coordinator of the Inter-American Affairs (OCIAA) which outpoured U.S. propaganda at Latin America to counteract the fascist influence. The policy was directed also towards internal audiences in order to close the gap between the stereotypes and the perception of the reality of Latin America. The OCIAA produced its own movies14 and sponsored artistic projects about life and people of the region. As proof of how this period brings good memories there even after sixty years, the Brazilian cartoon character created by Walt Disney—a parrot called José Carioca—is still very popular. The move from “gunboat” to “good neighbor” policy finally paid off after Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Most nations of the region aligned with the cause of the Allies and 7
  10. 10. Azevedo made available huge amounts of raw materials needed for U.S. industrial war effort. The partnership with Brazil provided bases to U.S. Navy anti-submarine campaign in south Atlantic, facilities needed for the airway to North Africa and troops for the campaign in Italy. After the war, however, the plans for the region changed to the unilateral containment of the communism and protection of U.S. interests, many of them bought or acquired in favorable conditions as result of the partnership principle of “Good Neighbor” policy. How the United States sees Latin America. Due to the fact that NSS just cares about the region in very specific subjects, it is difficult to believe that the other domestic politic system (DPS) actors are going to act differently. The overall attitude is negative—except the news about odd or exotic situations that confirm the stereotypes—and cannot be confronted because there are not efforts to present the positive side. The Department of Defense focuses on "ungoverned spaces" in Latin America— Amazon forest and triple border Brazil-Argentina-Paraguay—and how they can be used by terrorists against the United States. Other concerns made public are the drug trafficking, political revolutionary movements and their association. In the last years, an old “nemesis” got a friend: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are the bêtes noires of the continent. Immigration is other topic discussed by different NSS and DPS actors. There is always a possibility that terrorist can enter, legally or not, in the United States but the main issue is economic and affects a lot of constituencies around the country. The message passed out is well known: illegal immigrants work for less money, pay no taxes and remit billions to their countries of origin. Another major concern that is publicized is the role of Latin American countries in 8
  11. 11. Azevedo production and trafficking of drugs. The slow pace of the FTAA negotiations gives time and the benefit of the doubt to the interest groups make their case about the economic damages to the Congress, the media and the public. “Good Neighbor 21” opinion-making strategy should explore the advantages in the long term of having the potential of Latin American on U.S. side instead of spending resources in the solution of sporadic crises. It is neither difficult nor so expensive job. It was done before when the DPS actors worked to turn declared enemies of the past into closest allies. If it is possible to show U.S. audiences that, despite all casualties and resources spent, Iraqi people are doing a good job and deserve continued help, it does not seem impossible to present the positive side of Latin America. It is just about fighting the ignorance. Some points that can be considered are: to learn from the experience of private sector and NGOs, to celebrate the heritage of millions of U.S. citizens, to honor countries of origin of popular idols, to stimulate social and cultural exchanges, to publicize Latin American breakthroughs and to overcome opposition from interest groups. The creation of a specific agenda is not necessary. In fact, the Department of States’ Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs has its origins in the OCIAA. How Latin America sees the United States. In a world where cable television (TV) and internet provide real time coverage of the events, the hegemonic power is under continuous scrutiny. Latin American audiences watch all that with an extra dose of skepticism because the region deals directly with U.S. foreign policy since early 19th century. The United States supported the independence movements around the region and promptly recognized the new 9
  12. 12. Azevedo nations but failed to show consistency with the very democratic ideals it lives by and that inspired those countries. The United States has intervened militarily in tens of occasions, provided military aid and advice to countries in civil war or unrest and supported, overtly or not, coups d’état and authoritarian regimes. In other words, mere speeches about spreading democracy and free trade have no effect on the region’s public. On economy, the memories about globalization are not the best, which can be harmful to FTAA implementation. The developed countries, in defense of the interest of their corporations, pension funds and banks, pushed Latin American countries into the liberalization part of the “Washington Consensus” with no major concerns about the reforms needed, profited from that and, when some of these countries bankrupted, criticized local governments for their structural failure. The local media compares U.S. foreign policy in different regions and present the situations where it seems myopic to the public. This was recurring in the coverage of the buildup to invade Iraq, the invasion, the failure in finding WMD stockpiles, the insurgency and the consequent changes of rationale for invasion. This controversial attitude fuels the general notion, used by leaders from different sides of political spectrum, that U.S. interests are responsible for everything that is not going well in their countries. The democratically-elected governments of socialist background keep a very pragmatic and orthodox approach to the relations with the United States but they follow a light version the “Yanqui, go home” playbook to win public support. “Good Neighbor 21” should be a coordinated effort of public diplomacy and strategic communications. Part of this effort seems symbolic but it would be very effective in captivating the audiences around the continent. Latin Americans are very proud of their 10
  13. 13. Azevedo countries and they really appreciate when their representatives seem important in the “concert of nations”. A simple “photo-op” with two presidents can bring good mood in bilateral relations. Exchange of visits between senior officials is also very well received. This kind of events could happen more often in U.S.-Latin America relations, mainly in FTAA negotiations. FTAA discussions will be a great opportunity to have the rest of continent but Cuba on U.S. side. It will be demanding but, if the U.S. negotiators are well prepared, skilled in dealing with people and knowledgeable about the cultural diversity of their counterparts, the effort will be worth it. An important portion of the public opinion is exposed to U.S. entertainment and news media by cable and internet. United States could stimulate the initiatives of the NGOs, IGOs and private sector to provide internet access and use it as tool for education and public affairs. Education reform is something needed in the entire region and the U.S. help can be remembered by the students when they become voters or, better than that, leaders in their societies. BRAZIL – PART OF THE SOLUTION As it happened about seventy years ago, Brazil is the best candidate to test “Good Neighbor 21”. The difference now is that, if Brazil passes and other countries follow behind, the bond forged will not be broken so easily. In the context of international security, all military programs of nuclear research but the submarine propulsion were canceled. The country is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Missile Technology Control Regime and Brazilian-Argentine Agency for Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials, and signatory of the Non- 11
  14. 14. Azevedo Proliferation Treaty and of Treaty of Tlatelolco—which establishes a nuclear weapons-free zone in Latin America. The Amazon region is one of the top priorities of the Brazilian government. The Ministry of Defense determined the Army to deploy units at points of Colombian border in a focus shift from potential Argentine aggression to drug traffickers and guerillas threat. The Brazilian Navy patrols the rivers, keeps Marines units in the region and takes part in social actions. The Air Force has the mandate to enforce the “Lei do abate” (destructive shooting law) if the aircraft pilot does not obey all the standard interception procedures. The Sistema de Vigilância da Amazônia (SIVAM – Amazon Surveillance System) is to be commissioned in 2006. In emergencies such as forest fires, floods and toxic spills, the Armed Forces are the first representatives of State to reach the scene of action. Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay formed the 3 + 1 Group on Tri-Border Area Security “to discuss and analyze preventive actions against terrorism and other transnational crimes”15. The money from drugs is a very destabilizing factor in Brazil. Anti-drug initiatives that do not threaten sovereignty will be welcome by Brazilian government. In terms of population, Brazil is one of the world's largest democracies. It has held four presidential elections since the end of military rule. In the last two, the votes of the more than 100 million voters were cast in electronic voting machines. Coordinate actions of Ministério Público (Federal prosecutors) and Polícia Federal (Federal Police) against corruption and financial crimes are very popular, more frequent and effective. In the region, Brazil changed from a historic isolationism in relation to the Spanish- 12
  15. 15. Azevedo speaking America to a strong advocacy of South American integration. The foundation of MERCOSUL and, more recently, of the South American Community of Nations signals the region’s desire to be stable and democratic. Brazil plays also an important role in guaranteeing governance. It helped Paraguay (1996) and Argentina (2000), sponsored the “Friends of Venezuela” initiative (2002) and offered political asylum to Ecuadorian President (2005) to give an end to institutional crises in these countries. Economy and trade are areas where the United States is currently willing for a multilateral approach. Brazilian economy shows signs of steady recovery after years of incremental Gross Domestic Product. Brazil is considered a “superpower” in agriculture, which is a point of attrition in bilateral relations. Its industry is diversified and creative with increasing competitiveness. Empresa Brasileira de Aeronáutica (EMBRAER – Brazilian Aeronautics Company) is one of the best examples of that. It exported training aircrafts to United Kingdom and France, created the first ethanol-fueled—taking advantage of the abundance of this fuel in Brazil—series production aircraft in the world and one of its jet aircrafts will be the airborne platform for Aerial Common Sensor (ACS) program for the U.S. Army. Besides the products and services that Brazil can offer, the trade negotiators are doing their part in making the country a global trader. They manage to find in what areas the offer of one party is complementary to the need of the other. Brazil, alone or with MERCOSUL, is working on bilateral agreements with other developing countries and blocs—EU, China, India, South Africa, Chile and Andean Community. Brazil and the United States are co-chairs of the final phase of the FTAA negotiations. Taking care to not upset Brazilian neighbors, this can be the best opportunity to 13
  16. 16. Azevedo start a real strategic partnership and expand it to the rest of continent. Points of disagreement such as U.S. farm subsidies and Brazilian intellectual property legislation are controversial but need to be addressed in a long term perspective and in a multidisciplinary way. The countries will be open to that if they fight the mutual skepticism. Although timidly, Brazil is working to prove that it deserves respect as a serious nation. It is U.S. time to prove that it can be admired again and deserves the leadership role. CONCLUSION The alliances are not real if there is skepticism about U.S. attitude despite the sharing of the same values. If other urgent issues shift attention from Latin America to the point that regional allies feel neglected, they will support someone else, not necessarily other U.S. ally. The United States passed through similar situation in the past and the “Good neighbor” policy, implemented after much negotiation, created the best environment ever in the Americas and formed the indispensable alliance that allowed the final victory that time. At this “globalized” beginning of the 21st century, the United States should do it over—starting with the South American greatest power, Brazil—rather than keep a reactive posture and spare itself of unnecessary harm. 14
  17. 17. Azevedo Appendix A Notes 1 International Relations Principles, Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil, article 4 (1988) 2 United Nations Development Program, Democracy in Latin America: towards a citizen’s democracy. (Buenos Aires: 2005), 131. 3 General Bantz J. Craddock, United States Army, Commander, United States Southern Command, “Posture statement”, U.S. Congress, Senate, Armed Services Committee, Defense Authorization Request for Fiscal Year 2006, Hearings before the Armed Services Committee, 109th Cong., 1st sess., 15 March 2005. 4 Whitehead, 129. 5 “ Annual Presidential Determinations of Major Illicit Drug-Producing and Drug-Transit Countries.” White House Releases. 16 September 2004. <> [11 November 2004] 6 “Depois do tráfico, a guerrilha”, O Globo, 4 February 2002 7 International Monetary Fund, Public Information Notice No. 05/41. (Washington, D.C.: 25 March 2005). 8 There is another G20. It is the group composed by the industrial nations, emerging market countries and the European Union. 9 “Panama Country Analysis Brief”, Country Analysis Brief. November 2004. <> [20 April 2005] 10 “The FTAA: An Integral Part of the Summit of the Americas”, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State. 6 March 2001 <> [24 April 2005] 11 Government Accountability Office. Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce, and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives: U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY. Interagency Coordination Efforts Hampered by the Lack of a National Communication Strategy. (Washington, DC: 2005), 31. 12 Although President Roosevelt made the policy known to the public, President Hoover coined the expression and put the policy into practice by pulling back troops from Nicaragua and planning the withdrawal from Haiti. A-1
  18. 18. Azevedo 13 “President Roosevelt's Inaugural Address” Character above all. Presidential links. <> [12 April 2005] 14 Some movies available online on < browse.php?collection=prelinger&cat=Latin%20America> 15 “Communiqué of the 3 + 1 Group on Tri-Border Area Security” Counter-terrorism Office releases, Department of State. 6 December 2004 <> [24 April 2005] A-2
  19. 19. Azevedo Appendix B Bibliography Pike, Fredrick B.. FDR's Good Neighbor Policy: Sixty Years of Generally Gentle Chaos. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995. Skidmore, Thomas E.. Brazil: Five Centuries of Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ________ and Peter H. Smith. Modern Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Welles, Benjamin. Sumner Welles: FDR's Global Strategist: A Biography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997. Whitehead, Laurence. Democratization: Theory and Experience (Oxford Studies in Democratization) New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. B-1