Durable fire alert

Carlos Zilio, STATUE OF LIBERTY, 1970, felt-tip pen on paper, 47x32,5
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By TADEU VALADARES*

Notes on foreign policy, before and after the 2016 coup.

In a way, my speech complements what was presented by professor Luís Filipe Miguel. On that occasion, the professor analyzed the internal situation that we have been experiencing since the first chapter of the coup, a book still open, a narrative not yet concluded. While the previous lecture naturally focused on the internal dimension, it is now up to me to present what I called notes on foreign policy, before and after the coup.

I remember that the professor clarified the basic point from which we guided ourselves: the well-founded certainty that the coup is a coup, not the phantasmagoric creation of a leftist imaginary disconnected from reality. Political-media coup effectively occurred. New style coup, different coup from classic Latin American pronouncements. A coup that did not employ the armed forces, which did not install a military dictatorship or a civilian puppet government, Bordaberry style. A coup that was enthusiastically supported by major business confederations and major political parties. Also by others, minors. A coup that had the sympathy and support of a large part of the high bureaucracy, as well as the broadly understood Justice, which encompasses much more than the Ministry. A bitter new-style blow, Petrarch would say. Coup preceded by the ones launched in Honduras and Paraguay.

Having said that, I would like to explain my perspective, which is not that of an academic, but of a retired ambassador, of someone who perhaps in a certain way embodies an ancient figure, that of the simple citizen, since I do not belong to any political party, nor am I active in social movements. Initially, I intend to expose some ideas that may allow us to better intertwine the internal situation with the international scene. But I would like to underline something that is theoretically and strategically important to me: they are not two watertight planes, the internal and the external. They are just useful resources to elaborate a tentative analysis.

Separating the “in here” from the “out there” carries with it something illusory. But something that, being largely illusory, is also a heuristic instrument that becomes necessary, even essential, if we want to order our ideas about what we ultimately call “the real of politics”, both internal and external. After all, how can we talk about international politics without bearing in mind this methodological cut between the internal and the external? Deep down, for me, it's as if these two planes functioned as a single game of tensions, compromises, contradictions, conflicts and convergences, continuities and ruptures. Perhaps this perspective is capable, albeit precariously, of indicating the web of power relations in permanent flux both internally and externally.

Where to start?

I opted for what I consider the broader framework of the “external side”, which is not so external, the globalization that has been manifesting itself with force since at least the 1970s. When we find ourselves immersed in a crisis of gigantic proportions, I believe it is important to look conjuncture, in the structural dynamics and in the present as history elements that allow us to decide our position as citizens, and also as a country, vis-à-vis globalization. For me, in this strategic register, the crucial thing is – although thinking in polar terms, terms that are always risky, always very precarious – each one of us considers with the best factual and historical basis possible whether globalization is an inevitable destiny, that is to say, a frame inescapable, rigidly closed system.

Or if, alternatively, something that, at least under the name generated in recent history, allows or still allows all of us, as citizens of a non-hegemonic State, and as members of a battered and increasingly torn society, to avoid the simple and subservient passive adaptation of the country to an order which is generally presented to us as equivalent to that imposed by the laws of God or Nature. In this context, that is, in the search for an understanding of what is there, of the genesis and structuring of capitalism of which globalization is the most recent avatar, perhaps the most tragic metaphor of what ultimately constitutes the constitution of a world-wide system is the coined by Max Weber in his study of the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism.

For Weber, the system that permeates us all results from the encounter, carried out under the sign of elective affinities, between a certain ethics – that of Protestant asceticism that takes place in the world, not in the seclusion of the cloister – and a determined spirit of calculation, a mark hallmark of capitalism. This meeting results in a qualitative leap in terms of disenchantment with the world. From this meeting emerges the new dominant figuration in history, a specific mode of economic production, the contradictory articulation of social classes and much more that permeates us in the cultural, ideological, social and existential aspects.

Remember: when the spirit of calculation finally materializes in history, that is, when the phase of its establishment is over, capitalism becomes fully autonomous. It no longer needs religious ethics, it can live by itself, it dispenses with the support of spiritual crutches. And in this step he builds what Parsons, translating the German expression, called “iron cage”, the iron cage, which Michael Lowy prefers to call “steel cage” or even “steel receptacle”.

Cage or receptacle, made of iron or steel, the names and constituent materials matter little, capitalism is conceived as a monumental framing of all that is human and natural on a planetary scale. Something realized historically as it expands from Europe to the “outside world”, this state of affairs will persist, according to Weber, until the last ton of coal is consumed.

To me it seems reasonable to establish a relationship, whether of elective affinity or of complex genealogy, I don't know, between what we call globalization or globalization and the Weberian metaphor. Without forgetting that this process of globalization, conceived as the culmination of capitalism, is something recent. Without forgetting that globalization can be read as the current figuration of what began to emerge in the passage from the Middle Ages to Modernity. Without forgetting that what arose and asserted itself and came to dominate received various names over the centuries: European modernity, maritime-commercial expansion, colonialism, imperialism, neocolonialism, neo-imperialism, even unilateralism and hegemonism, among other indicative notions or theoretical concepts. .

Perhaps subtly, or not so subtly, globalization in its shape can be understood, in a first approximation and strictly, as practical globalization. The one that, centered on the brutal economic, commercial and financial strategies of the great international corporations, has as a theoretical complement the neoliberal doctrine as soft power, as an intellectual shield and sword. A way of thinking, the neoliberal one, which ultimately enables, in terms of structuring ideas and consequent practices, the symbiotic relationship of large international companies with the great powers on both sides of the North Atlantic, countries and groupings with which these conglomerates are , for the most part, umbilically linked.

To this duo we could perhaps add a third element, much richer in terms of the production of ideas, schools of thought, academic innovations, lifestyle suggestions. All that, in short, would belong to the fascinating and always tense cultural galaxy that we hope we can call, without great scandal, the postmodern cultural and intellectual world, a flowering that appeared more or less at the same time as the term was coined and the emergence of the reality of globalization or globalization.

For me, it is important to point out that the post-modern cultural world includes styles of life, behavior and weak sociability that, at the limit or at least as a tendency, generate, in terms of subjectivity, countless possessive, pathologically competitive individualists. This world, which cannot be confused with the economic, necessarily establishes a two-way dialectic relationship with it, far from the neutrality called indifference. In the densest, I dare say, its dynamics contributes decisively to the regressive historical time in which we live.

If we take all these dimensions into account, it is not surprising that, somewhat reminiscent of the “iron cage”, globalization has not only arrived, but is here to stay. This is what their coryphaeans tell us day and night. She would be the gravedigger of history, which in itself was just a great illusion, it was philosophy of history, it was metaphysics opportunely overcome. Globalization, in its broadest sense, is equivalent to the end of history so hastily celebrated by Fukuyama.

Seen by its defenders, globalization is a welcome economic process, the sum of practices and theories of the minimum state with maximum privatization. That is, everyday practice and comprehensive theory. It is also a stimulating and innovative cultural atmosphere which, among other merits, has definitively put an end to any attempt to think about history through great narratives and their conflicting meanings. Or its meaninglessness.

Seen by its critics, globalization essentially means the reorganization of the economy, both nationally and internationally, illuminated by an ideological light that passes through economic theory focused on free market play. In reality, a whole working for the benefit of the few who, not being beautiful or Greek, are really few. At most, 1% of more than seven billion human beings. Globalization would be, in the words of Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr., “a mechanical link between technological advances in areas such as information, computing and finance, and the supposed general trend towards the suppression of borders and the disintegration of national states”. This link between real processes and ideological interpretation, which Paulo Nogueira Batista Jr. called rhetoric and myth, other ideas of a strategic nature are added, including the one that “we are subject to the action of uncontrollable economic forces”.

For states and societies that do not occupy decisive places in the world-system, the ideology of globalization tells them that, in the last analysis – perhaps in the first analysis… –, the reasonable, the adequate, the pragmatic and the inescapable unite. And they demand, above all wills, genuflection in the face of the imperatives of the “new economy” and the plans and decisions of large international companies and the dominant Atlantic powers. There is nothing left to do in the face of the “airs that blow in the world”. Nothing to be done in the face of progress which, in the reading of Benjamin's Angel of History, is torment and destruction.

The distance between the ideological as a masking and the real as a reference can be seen in the fact that, half a century after it began, globalization has not freed itself from nations, peoples, non-Westernized cultures or native peoples, much less from the non-hegemonic societies and states. Not even, to top it all off, the upheavals that from time to time actualize what de Tocqueville called “popular emotions”.

Somehow the various countersprings held. Some old, certain combative social classes, others new, those that are just beginning to emerge in the many peripheries. Somehow, the idea persists that an alternative world – or at least profoundly different from the one proposed by neoliberalism – is possible and even essential in light of the state of the planet, resulting from the sum, articulation or multiplication of various crises, a catastrophic range that will from socio-environmental to economic, political, geopolitical and the threat of nuclear holocaust. In its darkest face, as we well know, the world historically constructed by capitalism threatens, in its growing imbalance, to extinguish humanity.

Fernando Pessoa stated, in one of his prose texts: “Either the free or the determined; there is no place for the indeterminate”. As much as I appreciate Pessoa, I have the audacity to disagree. Maybe it's better to refuse the free, because the free, which escapes any determination, is pure pious vote. It is also imperative, in my view, to reject what is determined, which in the end is a mechanical labyrinth with no way out, something that resembles the monster and the labyrinth created by Borges. Better, then, to stick with the indeterminate, so that with it and in it we can try what can lead to the overcoming of both poles.

Deep down, reflect until you reach the decision to reject either the rule of the iron cage and cultural pessimism, or its most recent incarnation, the globalization that associates large international companies with their respective national states. By a strange coincidence, the two constitute the set of the most powerful actors operating in the world system… In concert, both exercise powers that are diffracted, in certain cases; systemic, in others. But, in scope, they are always exercised taking into account the planetary scope.

In light of this scenario, we will take one more step, before arriving at the analysis of Brazilian foreign policy that persisted for almost 14 years, and then we will consider what has been the international mark of the illegitimate government of Michel Temer.

This, for me, is the moment to explicitly recognize: it is risky to make the transition from the “background” called globalization to something manifestly other, although a type of other that, being an element, is inserted in the larger frame. Brazilian foreign policy will then come to center stage, to be the focus of our attention.

But before that I ask you to make one more effort, to take another step along with me. This step is all the more risky because I will not establish mediations between the two planes as clear as desirable, even given the time constraints, and also my greatest interest, that of talking to you, that of learning from our dialogue. Hence, instead of carefully establishing the many mediations, I prefer to elaborate certain preliminary considerations that, in my opinion, have something valid. And draw some consequences from them that may help to better understand the foreign policy before the coup, and also its contrast, that of the Temer government.

If we think about what I told you just now, if we reflect on Tocquevillian “popular emotions”, and on the place they occupy when they invariably erupt in moments of maximum social, political and ideological tension marked by extreme popular mobilization, it is easy to realize that , when they emerge, such “emotions” generate dynamics of classes, layers and social groups that, at the limit, concretely threaten the legal-political concept of public order. For this very reason, waves of police repression and others inevitably provoke a reaction from the operational complement of that order, that is, the set of measures of force and containment, of material violence coupled with the symbolic violence of all the paraphernalia available to anyone. constitutionally monopolizes the exercise of state power. As a whole, they are reactions destined to operate the so-called “return to normality”.

It is important for me, immediately, to underline that, in my view, there are marked differences, in these cases, between the “internal” and the “external”. “Popular emotions” – the theoretical-practical emergence of the transforming event, as highlighted by anti-systemic and anti-institutional thinkers –, depending on their intensity, scope and duration, can metamorphose into revolutionary tsunamis in which voluntarisms and strategies of various orders operate. Moreover, these “emotions” appear, in general and from time to time, as phenomena that escape the commonplace determinations that seem to organize the state of normality that is a state of exception. They come to light unexpectedly. They emerge as an immense surprise, to the astonishment of almost everyone. Just think of May 68 or, more recently, the Arab Spring and the protests, here, in June 2013.

In contrast, nothing as radical as that usually happens in the 'external' space shaped by the contemporary international system. Even the most ambitious developmental proposal, the “New International Economic Order” that mobilized UNCTAD in the 70s, had little to do with any kind of revolutionary impulse. It was about reforming the system – serving Third World interests – not rejecting it. That is, except for moments or periods of high voltage internal to certain countries that, at the limit, can experience great revolutions, the national states, especially those that effectively count, when it comes to their relationship with the other members of the system, build profiles of foreign policy ranging from the more or less conservative defense of status quo – their actions being as much as possible centered on maintaining the essentials of the system – to visions and practices marked by reformism that may be stronger or weaker.

Perhaps for this very reason, in the ordinary course of things, states can be seen, after analyzing their discourses, interests and practices, as hegemonic and non-hegemonic. In the current period, we live within a world-system, order or universe in which a superpower – a category that translates a relatively recent reality – interacts with great powers, medium powers and the “rest”, the “others”, the ancillary state actors. . Another fundamental perspective, an indelible mark of this same problem: the system works in a structurally biased way.

We all know: states are legally equal; states are politically sovereign. But we all also know that among equals there are those who are most equal; and that, among sovereigns, some are much more sovereign than others. Even infinitely sovereign, in certain cases. These “more sovereign” states are distinguished by the power they have to act unilaterally. Even if they always, in a ritual way, seek to justify their unilateral actions by defending them as ultima ratio designed to guarantee an order that abstractly benefits everyone.

But precisely because the order has these characteristics, because it is biased and asymmetrical, it is also permanently subject to tensions of all kinds, in particular those originated by the demands of certain states whose profiles, dimensions and interests do not accommodate, or are accommodated badly, to the arrangement which for some others, the mightiest of the mighty, is almost always entirely convenient. This arrangement that governs us, originally created at the end of World War II and still maintained in its essential aspects, is a manifestation of the freezing of world power systematically denounced by Araújo Castro. Every so often, the structure pays homage to history, the framework is revised and updated through the adoption of changes that, so far, although always important in themselves, are nonetheless somewhat cosmetic.

Within this dynamic, it is natural that the group of states that are both relevant and dissatisfied is the one that is most interested and shows the greatest commitment to effectively reforming the system, overcoming it. It is, in my view, overcoming that has something Hegelian: in the course of the very repeal, the “new”, the resultant, would preserve, without revolutionary traumas, the “old” that was overcome.

This effort, in reality, is always being made and redone through pressures and counter-pressures. It is the number and strength of reformist countries that varies over time. Inherent in this group is the desire for another state of affairs to be established, something that would allow them to exercise more resourceful decision-making power within the order, together with increased material and symbolic resources, means for the realization of their national projects, their regional projections and their expanded role in the world, global actors that they are.

Brazilian foreign policy in the Lula years

Perhaps perceiving the functioning of the international system through this prism is useful for the analysis, evaluation and understanding of Brazilian foreign policy in the period that began with the election of Lula to the Presidency of the Republic, a process that was cut short by the 2016 coup. It also serves to contrast this foreign policy with that of the Temer government.

We arrive, then, at the foreign policy of the Lula-Dilma period, which I consider the best conceived and the most comprehensive articulation of the internal with the external, at least since the middle of the last century. Structured foreign policy, in terms of grand strategy, by Lula da Silva, Celso Amorim, Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães and Marco Aurélio Garcia. Foreign policy whose elaboration carefully took into account our geographic position, our immediate neighborhood, South America and Africa, particularly the West or Atlantic, the 'next door'. Foreign policy that also considered the history of our relations with the United States and Europe, and the country's interests as a global player.

This policy was designed and carried out as a way of using the external dimension in order to reinforce our internal capacity to defend and operationalize the national interest anchored in the popular. As a whole, the internal and external in continuous synergy aimed at economic development and social transformation. Foreign policy that was a specifically Brazilian articulation, therefore, between the two dimensions that necessarily intertwine, the internal and external.

At the same time, in Latin American terms, while the country was building its privileged relationship with South America and with its “next door neighbors”,' the first circle of our geopolitical projection did not neglect Central America and the Caribbean, nor from Mexico. In this pluridirectional movement, Brazil would refuse to repeat hegemonic behavior patterns in the relationship with its partners. In another, broader circle, it would build solid alliances with major countries such as Russia, China, India and South Africa.

In this delicate texture, which extended over the years through a wide range of initiatives, Brazilian multilateral diplomacy would be inscribed, we as demanders of new rules and spaces effectively linked to the great world transformations that occurred since the 1950s. UN and the WTO. We, plaintiffs in political, economic, commercial and scientific-technological terms. We critical claimants. As a whole, this range of initiatives, if continued, could have contributed powerfully to the emergence of a new pole in the global system, the South American one. Its role would undoubtedly be of the highest relevance, a valuable contribution to the multipolar world 'in fieri', despite American and European resistance.

Essential, to embody this great strategy, that in our immediate surroundings we seek to approach the countries with which we shared and share similarities, with which in some way Weberian elective affinities were established. Or, perhaps more accurately, selective affinities, as Perry Anderson would say. This was done gradually, without ever generating strong tensions or marked conflicts with the other South Americans, not even with the more conservative or less conservative governments, all neighbors in geopolitical terms, despite the geographical exceptions of Chile and the Ecuador.

In its broadest expression, this clearly defined foreign policy turned to the backbone of long-range projects, while still taking advantage of the opportunities that the short-term window opened up, sometimes even surprisingly. Let's think about Venezuela's entry into Mercosur, for example. This episode, an opportunity generated by the coup that overthrew Lugo, allowed creating on the horizon the expectation of a strengthened Mercosur from the moment Venezuela recovered its economic strength. To get an idea of ​​the importance of the achievement, do not forget that Venezuela's entry into Mercosur was hard fought by the United States.

In the long term, the creation of the BRICS stands out, who knows, as the most significant project within the global reformist strategic framework. Two other inaugural projects, the constitution of UNASUR and the formation of CELAC, completed what would allow Brazil, South America and, ultimately, Latin America and the Caribbean to gradually act in a different way and with a different weight within the strengthened international order. multipolar world.

This, in a very synthetic way, outlines the broader traits that defined pre-coup foreign policy. This assembly of an omnidirectional foreign policy was the condition and at the same time the agent that gave reality to what is threatened today, in the whole more than in large part, given the contrary directions that characterize the coup government. Foreign policy, therefore, frankly reformist and constructive. Moderate foreign policy, which in one aspect strengthened South America, but which in another opened up perspectives of increased multipolarity. And that, in a third, provided better use, by Brazil, of the game played on the multilateral board, both in Geneva and in New York.

The swing of Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães

Below I present a more precise balance of the results achieved by the foreign policy that lasted from 2003 until the “impeachment” of President Dilma. Balance sheet drawn up by Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães shortly after Temer came to power, with all the parliamentary and legal stages of the partisan-media coup completed.

In South America, a fivefold increase in trade and investment; constitution of UNASUR and the South American Defense Council; close relations of cooperation and friendship with all, absolutely all, South American governments, in an atmosphere of mutual respect; financing of large infrastructure works – IIRSA project – aiming at South American infrastructural integration; financing of large infrastructure works agreed with Paraguay; importance, in this context, of the creation of the Fund for the Structural Convergence of Mercosur (FOCEM); rejection of the FTAA, on the one hand, and Cuba's integration into CELAC and the Latin American system (ALADI, for example); on the other hand, closer ties with Argentina. Expansion to its maximum limit of the Brazilian diplomatic network in Latin America and the Caribbean. And Venezuela's entry into Mercosur.

With Africa: great expansion of trade, investments and actions by Brazilian engineering companies in important works; expansion of the diplomatic network; technical, educational and humanitarian cooperation, with emphasis on the role of Embrapa and the installation of a retroviral factory in Mozambique; African support for Brazilian positions in international negotiations, particularly in the context of United Nations reform and the attempt to expand the Security Council; and the organization of the first conference of heads of state between African and South American countries (ASA).

With Asia: rapprochement with China, which has become Brazil's main trading partner; expansion of Brazilian exports to all Asian countries; constitution of the BRICS, which Pinheiro Guimarães sees as the main geopolitical phenomenon of the XNUMXst century; creation of the BRICS Bank and conclusion of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement; creation of IBSA, a group formed by India, Brazil and South Africa, aimed at cooperation in third countries; winning Asian support for the Brazilian bid for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

With the European Union: establishment of a strategic partnership agreement, an instrument signed by the EU with very few countries, including China. With France: program to build nuclear-powered submarines and conventional submarines. With Sweden: Grippen aircraft purchase program, with technology transfer.

With the Near East: search for permanent balance in relations between Brazil and Israel, on the one hand, and between Brazil and the Arab countries and the Islamic world, on the other hand; recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a state; the organization of the 5st conference of heads of state of South American countries with Arab countries; and the agreement between Iran, Turkey and Brazil on the Iranian nuclear program. Sabotaged by the United States and European partners, the agreement's importance was later recognized, even in light of what Iran had achieved with the P1+XNUMX (the Security Council's five, plus Germany), recently denounced by Trump.

With the United States, the relationship was marked by the rejection of the FTAA, one of the most important decisions in the history of Brazilian diplomacy, and by the episode of espionage against the President of the Republic and Petrobras, which led to the separation between Brasília and Washington. Even so, cooperation was deepened with a view to third countries. One example is the promotion of ethanol production in Central America. In the view defended by Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães, Brazil's relations with the United States are so dense that they do not need special promotion. They flowed through “traditional channels”, with clarity as to what the former Secretary General of the Itamaraty calls “respectful and reciprocal divergence on certain issues, such as the FTAA and climate change. Also divergent with regard to Iraq, Libya and Syria”.

With the IMF, and with this I close the balance sheet, we paid the debt contracted, which led to the cessation of mechanisms for the supervision of Brazilian policies by technicians from that organization. Later, Brazil even granted a loan to the Fund.

The governments of Dilma Rousseff

When Lula's foreign policy is compared with that conducted by Dilma, differences in emphasis and others are observed, but in no way is there a rupture. Differences appear as variants that point to a basic continuity. It is important not to ignore that this type of exercise also indicates that the foreign policy carried out during the Dilma period signals some weakening, a certain deceleration, an evident loss of rhythm and a perceptible introversion.

The external and internal crisis – and here the distinction between external and internal shows how precarious it actually is in the face of the flow of reality – has a lot to do with this change in tone, pitch, intensity throughout the Dilma period. This even led to the fact that cooperation ties with South America also tended to be limited. In this context, likewise, the weakening of presidential diplomacy proved to be an inhibiting factor, as well as the drop in the number of meetings and high-level bilateral understandings.

The same pattern also manifested itself with respect to relations with African and Asian countries, as the government's attention began to focus more and more on the critical domestic economic and political situation. Even so, the creation of the BRICS Bank and the signing of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, as well as the Brazilian participation in the Asian Investment Bank, were major moves. The Brazilian contribution, in each case, relevant.

Equally positive were the elections of José Graziano to head the FAO; and that of Roberto Azevêdo for Director General of the WTO. The realization in Brazil, despite all the regrets, of mega-events such as the World Cup and the Olympic Games indicated the country's increased capacity to act decisively in various spheres.

The Temer government

Let us move on, then, to conclude, to the foreign policy of the Temer government. For me, and this may surprise some of you, the initial formulation of what became the foreign policy of the illegitimate government was spelled out well before the coup was struck. More precisely, this precursor manifestation took place in October 2015. It was then that the PMDB released the document entitled “A Bridge to the Future”, a text that formally enshrines the party's adherence – who knows if definitive – to neoliberal ideals. The PMDB manifesto summarizes what became, in the hands of Temer and Meirelles, the government program centered on the accelerated implementation of a neoliberal platform whose toucan version, always good to keep in mind, had been rejected by the majority of the electorate in 2014 .

In a certain section of this set of suggestions then made to the Dilma government, we can read that “it would be up to her to carry out the full insertion of the Brazilian economy in international trade, with greater trade openness and the search for regional trade agreements with all relevant economic areas – USA , EU, Asia –, with or without the company of Mercosur, although preferably with them”. It is also said that the government should provide “real support for the productive sector to be integrated into the productive value chains, thereby helping to increase productivity and update Brazilian norms to the new standards that are being formed in international trade”.

The priority given to the commercialist dimension that marks foreign policy today could hardly have been more transparent, in practice entirely concentrated on relations with the countries and areas with which Brazil traditionally makes the most significant part of our exchange. In fact, the document runs through the desire for the country, both “internally” and “externally”, to mimetically adjust to neoliberal globalization, something seen as so natural, so rational and so evident that the text dispenses with any reflection on it. respect.

The foreign policy inscribed in the PMDB's neoliberal baptism certificate was unfolded, perfected and imposed on Itamaraty, at first, from the assumption of command of the chancellery by senator José Serra. The work has been continued by Senator Aloysio Nunes Ferreira since March 2017.

Less than a semester before the presidential elections, the foreign policy of the Temer government crystallized its own profile, clearly the opposite of that sculpted by Lula and Dilma. Without needing to carry out sophisticated analyses, it is evident that current foreign policy is, in essence, commercialist. The political tone, in its constructive dimension, was largely abandoned. What remains is the aggressive, which in its maximum virulence is focused on criticizing the Venezuelan government and Bolivarianism.

Simultaneously, the strategy of economic openness materializes with the approach to the United States, in the first place; and, second, with the European Union. The ties already developed with China and Russia are maintained, but the same effort is not seen, far from it, with regard to the BRICS.

In terms of South America, the open ideological confrontation with the government of Caracas and with what, without greater precision, is called Bolivarianism led to the weakening of Mercosur. The feat within the scope of the bloc, in coordination with Paraguay and Argentina, besides being serious in itself, resulted in an exposed fracture in the most important area of ​​our foreign policy, the South American space. This trauma will last as long as Maduro remains in power. But, making matters worse, the truculent way in which the issue was handled will not be forgotten by real Bolivarianism, not the ghostly scarecrow wielded by Brasília, in no way different from the image constructed by the great corporate press. It was recklessly ignored that Bolivarianism, not its ghost, is still the most important political, social and ideological force in Venezuela in crisis.

UNASUR was deactivated, an inevitable and desired consequence of the vision of foreign policy that characterizes the coup government. In this context, the articulations involving Mercosur, the Lima Group and the OAS prevent, as far as the eye can see, the recomposition of the South American dialogue on which any non-slavish Brazilian foreign policy depends. The United States contributes to strengthening this imprudent dynamic, which puts more and more pressure on Latin Americans and increasingly demands even stronger attitudes towards the Caracas government, under the pretext of defending democracy and human rights. This dangerous game points to another regime change in South America, with human and material costs that are currently incalculable, at the limit, perhaps plunging the neighboring country into the horrors of civil war.

This same Brazilian turn to the right put the South American Defense Council in a state of dormancy, a forum that seems destined for irrelevance. At the same time, the Temer government is seeking to establish a South American Security Authority, which would be responsible for combating transnational crime. This objective, if there was political will and interest, could be part of the agenda of the South American Defense Council. As there is no will or interest, the incorporation of this topic to the Council's agenda is not a question.

For those who criticized the “PT party foreign policy”, it is ironic to observe the distance that was created in South America, in political-diplomatic and ideological terms, between conservative governments and reformist governments, a situation difficult to imagine even less than two years ago. Similarly, Havana's relationship with Brasilia is a shadow of its former self.

On the other hand, CELAC entered into a manifest decline, while the OAS once again had unusual importance for Brazil, both realities proclaiming the regressive character of the foreign policy implemented since the coup. The regression does not go back to any of the other variants of Brazil's insertion in the external plan observed since the beginning of the New Republic. It recalls, in its subservient extremism, the automatic alignment that has in Castelo Branco, Juracy Magalhães and in the Brazilian participation in the invasion of the Dominican Republic its most important actors and its most evident disaster.

Completing the iron circle that encompasses both the internal and the external, our most important political-diplomatic project in national and regional terms, the emergence, in the long term, of the South American pole as part of the multipolarism in gestation, was totally unfeasible.

With Africa, relations are reduced to routine, although the craziest thing has been avoided: following up on threats made by José Serra to drastically reduce the number of our embassies, currently located in 37 of the 54 capitals of African states. Even so, instead of reciprocal trust, technical and humanitarian cooperation, reciprocal political support, encouragement for trade and investment, a situation of laziness was created. As a result, the calm that does not have time to end, from the planned Brazilian distancing, complemented by the certainty shared by the “neighbors across the street”. Crystalline, for Africans, that in the Temer government the continent was once again secondary or tertiary, whether as a political-diplomatic interlocutor or as a commercial partner.

The same, albeit with nuances, can be said of Brazil's relations with the Greater Middle East, and also of our current interaction with much of the Far East, with the obvious exceptions, China, India, South Korea and Japan. Meanwhile, with Russia, the bilateral relationship, despite being free of crises, does not seem to be advancing. It is reasonable to think that the current government's lack of interest in the BRICS has something to do with this.

Given the deconstructive side of current foreign policy, its postmodern face, let's move on to the “constructive” one. In propositional terms, Temer's foreign policy is ostensibly committed to deepening geopolitical ties with the United States. But the result of the American presidential elections, Trump's surprising victory over Hillary, added to the unpredictability that still characterizes the republican billionaire's government, to a certain extent frustrated the purposes of Temer, Serra and Nunes Ferreira. The luster and aura, to remind La Boétie, of the strategy of voluntary servitude were lost.

Washington, in terms of Latin America, geopolitically privileges only Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba. But a privileging that points to growing tensions, rather than to the search for a minimum standard of coexistence, dialogue and cooperation. In this interpretative framework, Trump's absence from the Summit of the Americas just celebrated in Lima speaks louder than all Brazilian government rhetoric. An absence, that of Trump, more illuminating than any speech.

On the bilateral level, the imposition of a surcharge on Brazilian steel and aluminum does not seem to be a matter to be resolved in the short term. In other words, it is improbable, although not impossible, that Brazil will achieve, even in this government, a composition with the United States capable of adequately meeting the interests of exporters. The US electoral calendar – the midterm elections in November may seriously affect the Republican government – ​​may delay the resolution of this important trade issue.

With regard to Europe, two themes focus on the government's agenda: the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, and Brazil's accession to the OECD. According to press reports, Brazil and Argentina would be determined to reach an agreement with the Europeans in the very short term, which will put an end to the process that – given the complexity of the issue and due to the excessive demands of the OECD – dates back to the decade of the 90s of the last century. The understanding between Mercosur and the European bloc should be announced next month or next July.

However, what until a few weeks ago seemed safe may have entered the terrain of uncertainty. The agreement may turn out to be one of the collateral damages, in terms of timing, derived from the currency crisis that led the Macri government to ask the IMF for help. From that decision in extremis, the Argentine government, in particular the head of state, will focus on the issue that will possibly decide the country's future for a long time to come, at the same time focusing heavily on Macri's career. Do not forget that the closest antecedent to carnal relations with the IMF is the fall of De La Rúa.

The Brazilian request to join the OECD, in conjunction with the undoing of the previous strategy vis-à-vis South America and the loss of visibility of the BRICS for the current government, completes the regressive political-diplomatic turn. Brazil's entry into what, under the umbrella of cooperation and the strengthening of a certain type of rational administrative, it is actually a club of rich countries dedicated to promoting market freedom and defending liberal democracy, a potent sign of the conceptual, operational and symbolic change carried out by the illegitimate government with regard to foreign policy. By reinforcing its “regressism”, it indicates how the group in power sees the country: an international actor that strives to integrate, in a subordinate modality, the structures, institutions and organizations that, from the neoliberal perspective, seek to organize the economy of the political system. -world.

In operational terms, the country's accession to the OECD will imply a significant effort to adapt to the Organization's regulations. The “road map” is complex; and the demands, strong. But, if the process comes to fruition, the country will have above all proclaimed that it intends to join, like Mexico and Chile – a clear convergence of intention and gesture – to what was once called the First World, for which Brazil will have to abandon its previous trajectory, which starts from the 50s of the last century. A trajectory that, except during the Castelo Branco government, had in consultation with other developing countries a defining facet of its foreign policy, even independently of the internal political regime. The “third world” character of Brazilian diplomacy being more prominent in certain periods than others, its strength depending on national and external circumstances.

In this record, it will still not have been clear to public opinion what effective advantages, in terms of development, would be obtained by Brazil by following the path trodden by the two other Latin Americans. In symbolic terms, however, membership will underline that the country no longer sees itself geopolitically as part of the developing world, which will not fail to produce certain distances and mistrust, both bilaterally and multilaterally.

From this perspective, accession will constitute a crucial episode within the forced neoliberal modernization underway today. In a way, it points to the abandonment of a solidly constructed identity, based on our real condition as a developing country, not on cosmopolitan pretensions. It is a hasty operation, carried out in a hurry with a view to the country assuming another identity, which is largely fictitious, which does not fail to create a certain ridicule, because the pursued identity is not, in fact, ours. Another misplaced idea.

In concluding this summary assessment of the Temer government's foreign policy, I think I have demonstrated the diametric opposition between the current government's vision, a small commercial-pragmatic strategy of an adaptive nature, and the broadly reformist perspective of the foreign policy of both previous governments, a grand strategy centered on trying to materialize another way of relating Brazil to South America, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the international system as a whole. In terms of external projection, the continuity and strengthening of the currently dominant economic and political orientation - microworld view guided by hubris of the crystallization of an irreversibly neoliberal Brazil – translates, in everyday life, into a passive adjustment to globalization.

But, and this is the fundamental point of my conclusions, it must not be forgotten: everything is still open, everything will very much depend, in a short time, on the result of the next presidential election. For those who occupy executive power today, and for the reactionary political, ideological, economic and social forces that support them, it is mandatory to formally conclude the stage, which they see as heroic, begun two years ago. In the October election, the success of the right in any of its variants – ranging from the center right in decline to “Bolsonarist” extremism on the rise – will allow Temer’s successor to affirm that, once the interregnum is over, we are all “back to full normality” . The persuasive capacity of this type of speech will be based on the quantum of legitimacy available to the future head of state.

In other words, in this ideal scenario for neoliberals, the coup, never admitted, will be sanitized by the lustral water from the ballot boxes. And, to our no surprise, such an operation will be the object of massive convincing of the deluded public opinion, the exercise of building the neoliberal-conservative-reactionary consensus to which the big corporate media is dedicated on a day-to-day basis. Even more important: during this catastrophic scenario, the continuity, intensification, spreading and deepening of the tide whose flood began with the “impeachment” will be ensured.

If that happens, four more years of galloping neoliberalism could really change the face of the country for much worse, the one that today already amazes us. Four more years than it is now will make it extremely difficult to carry out the future and indispensable recovery of a development project anchored in a strong social component, the whole guaranteed by effective participatory democracy.

The two shifts in October are therefore of extraordinary historical importance. In this statement of mine, I emphasize, there is no rhetorical artifice. October will be a decisive moment, in the short term, for the country we want to build in the long term.

In one of the poems written in the “time of reconstruction”, Brecht makes an optimistic assessment: “We left behind the fatigues of the mountain, / ahead of us lay the fatigues of the plain.” In our case, the crisis is such that we only have mountain fatigues ahead of us. And they will not disappear, quite the contrary, if next October we reach not the Brechtian plain, but something comparatively smaller, the return to the Planalto Palace.

May those hit in 2016 know and be able to build a broad alliance that will allow us to break out of the iron circle that constrains us. That they can bring together not only the left, but also those who, being from the democratic center, perceive the risks of national disintegration that mark the bridge to the disaster that we have been traveling at high speed for almost two years ago. May those who have been hit contain the Bolsonarism that grows on the periphery as well.

Let all of us, under such adverse conditions, make the indispensable effort, comprehensive and flexible, but not devoid of principles, that can bring us back to the Plateau. This is the first step on a new path. This, the door that, if opened in the short term, will allow us to one day, who knows, perhaps, reach the plain and its welcome fatigue. Ambitiously interweaving the short term of the conjuncture with the time of the long term became an ingenuity and art indispensable to the survival of the left, to its restructuring and to the resumption, on new bases, of the transformation process in an interrupted country.

I conclude with an absolutely personal assessment: such an effort to put an end to the destructive experiment that overwhelms and makes us unhappy cannot be based on the illusion that more of the same is enough, only done in a better way. Such a path, a mere accumulation of the old with touches of new, if it were to be adopted, would probably prove to be, a little further on, a shortcut to another disaster. A disaster that could take on an even more brutal and authoritarian aspect, as it drowns us in the most complete barbarism.

*Tadeu Valadares is a retired ambassador.

Lecture at the Instituto de Letras da UnB on May 14, 2018

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