Brazil is thinking big. I mean Big! On December 19, 2008 President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva – Lula in other words, released a new national defense strategy. This document called for: upgrading Brazil’s military forces and for remaking the defense industry. And – contentiously for the Brazilian public, it called for Brazil’s mandatory military service to be enforced on all Brazilian classes.
As noted by Alexei Barrionuevo’s New York Times piece: “The new strategic vision, more than a year in the making, calls for Brazil to invest more in military technology, including satellites, and to build nuclear-powered submarine fleet that would be used to protect territorial waters and Brazil’s deepwater oil platforms. The proposal also calls an expansion of the armed forces to protect the country’s Amazon borders and for retraining troops so they are capable of rapid-strike, guerrilla-style warfare.” Michael Shifter, a vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue suggests that the policy is: “It is seeking to be a more cohesive national power, and that requires exercising full control over its vast territory and borders.”
The strategic vision was a year in the making. One of the authors is Roberto Mangabeira Unger who is currently serving as the Minister of Strategic Affairs. For many of you Unger is the well known Harvard Law Professor who has written many legal and philosophical works including, Knowledge and Politics (1976), The Critical Legal Studies Movement (1986), and Free Trade Reimagined: The World Division of Labor and the Method of Economics (2007). Unger took a leave of absence from Harvard University in 2007 to serve in Lula’s government. Unger has been deeply involved in the preparation of this 101-page report. The major strategic direction reacts to Brazil’s longstanding ‘pacifism.’ Unger suggests that this defense policy, “is not a circumstantial response to circumstantial problems. It is a far-reaching inflection, a change of course and a change of direction.”
In furthering this new strategic vision, Brazil signed a $12 billion defense agreement with France to provide Brazil with the technology to develop its own arms industry. Signed by the Presidents of the two countries this agreement, according to the New York Times, includes the purchase of 56 French EC-725 Super Cougar helicopters. In addition the agreement will enable both countries to develop a nuclear submarine and four diesel submarines.
The question is, can Brazil not achieve emerging great power (EGP) status, with it’s evident diplomatic leverage in global governance but without a major security upgrade. If Brazil does require a new security strategy to achieve EGP, is this Plan the necessary security policy for Brazil?