Insisting on “peace”

Image: Julia Antipina


Brazil seeks to restore the credibility and prestige that its diplomacy has almost always enjoyed since the second half of the XNUMXth century

Let's imagine a mathematical equation arranged like this: (Ukraine + USA, NATO and allies) against Russia / China and Brazil. The outcome would still be an open question. The fact is that no one knows how this war will end, or when. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres sentenced: peace is far away, because both sides of the conflict are still “convinced that they will win”.

Faced with this expectation, the insistence with which the Brazilian government insists on talking about peace may seem like empty rhetoric, although accompanied by China. But not quite. In terms of geopolitics and diplomacy, things are more complex.

The Brazilian position of not sending arms to Kiev may raise criticism from the United States and its European allies. But these criticisms, curiously, are more vehement among the governed than among the rulers. The fact is that wherever President Lula and his special advisor Celso Amorim go, they are received with open arms, with or without criticism, from Washington to Moscow, from Buenos Aires to Beijing.

Recent examples, in addition to Celso Amorim's visit to Moscow and Kiev: President Lula was officially invited by the Japanese Prime Minister to the next G7 meeting in Hiroshima, from May 19th to 21st; the Dutch Prime Minister said that he wants to explain to President Lula the position of the European countries that support Kiev, but, at the same time, he declared that he wants to talk to him about “many other subjects”.

political pragmatism

After the long hibernation caused by the confused and obtuse foreign policy of the previous government, now everyone wants to talk to the current Brazilian government. To put the question in very pragmatic terms, much to the taste of international finance: a market of almost 220 million inhabitants cannot remain in the spotlight.

Some commentators in the media tend to fall into the trap of considering the Brazilian position on the war in isolation, without taking into account its foreign policy as a whole. The term that best defines her appeared in a recent article by the North American magazine Foreign Affairs: “restoration” (23/03/2023 edition, signed by Husseis Kalut, from Harvard University, and by Feliciano Guimarães, from the University of São Paulo).

The Brazilian government seeks to restore the leadership position it once had in relation to the countries of the so-called “South” of the world, and therefore maintains a policy of equidistance in relation to the current geopolitical powers and their closest allies. It seeks to restore the credibility and prestige that its diplomacy has almost always enjoyed since the second half of the XNUMXth century, when automatic alignments were the exception, never the rule. Brazil is not a globally relevant country from a military point of view.

Brazilian foreign policy has always been guided by the so-called “soft power” and multilateralism, and in the XNUMXst century for leadership on the environmental issue, which was broken by the previous government. The Brazilian government wants to demonstrate that it can dialogue with everyone all the time.

In Europe, the Brazilian government is in dialogue with Emmanuel Macron in Paris and with Charles III and Rishi Sunak in London; with Olaf Scholz in Berlin, with Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, António Costa in Lisbon, and with Joe Biden, Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky, Xi Jinping and others.

As for the insistence on the word “peace”, well, one can expect everything in the current state of the art of geopolitics, except immediate results. Decidedly, the world – including Europe – is going through a moment of general rearmament, intensified by the war in Ukraine. In such circumstances, it is better to believe in the very Brazilian saying: “soft water on hard stone hits until it breaks”.

* Flavio Aguiar, journalist and writer, is a retired professor of Brazilian literature at USP. Author, among other books, of Chronicles of the World Upside Down (Boitempo).

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