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Brazil as a Regional Great Power: a Study in Ambivalence

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Regional Great Powers in International Politics

Abstract

The view of Brazil as a major regional power or as a regional great power has a long history and has been very widespread. The picture of Brazil as the most powerful state in South America recurs constantly in newspaper articles and politicians’ speeches, as well as in academic works. Such a view became most pronounced during the 1970s when the high growth rates of the so-called economic miracle seemed to establish the country as an upwardly mobile middle power, if not one moving ineluctably towards eventual great power status. To quote one typical example: ‘Brazil possesses the will and the resources to reach for, and possibly, achieve, the status of a major international power by the end of the twentieth century’.1 Writing more specifically in terms of relations with Latin America, Norman Bailey and Ronald Schneider argued in 1974 that: ‘Supremacy, dominance or even paramountcy may well be within Brazil’s reach by the 1980s’.2 Such arguments persisted well into the 1980s despite the country’s growing economic crisis. Writing in 1984, Wayne Selcher was unequivocal in arguing that ‘Brazil’s continental role has grown to clear primacy’.3 Today those who view the post-Cold War order as being characterised by greater pluralism and the diffusion of power are once more pointing to Brazil as an increasingly important regional actor in the coming decade.4

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Notes

  1. Riordan Roett, ‘Brazil Ascendant: International Relations and Geopolitics in the Late 20th Century’, Journal of International Affairs, IX (1975): 139–54 at 139.

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  2. Norman Bailey and Ronald Schneider, ‘Brazil’s Foreign Policy: A Case Study in Upward Mobility’, Inter-American Economic Affairs, XXVII (1974): 3–25.

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  3. Wayne Selcher, ‘Recent Strategic Developments in South America’s Southern Cone’, in Heraldo Munoz and Joseph Tulchin (eds), Latin American Nations in World Politics (Boulder: Westview, 1984), pp. 101–18 at p. 101.

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  4. Earl Ravenal, ‘The Case for Adjustment’, Foreign Policy, LXXXI (1990–91): 3–19.

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  5. Andrew Hurrell, ‘Latin America, the West and the Third World’, in Robert O’Neill and R. J. Vincent (eds), The West and the Third World (London: Macmillan, 1990), pp. 153–69.

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  6. Louis J. Cantori and Steven L. Spiegel, The International Politics of Regions: A Comparative Approach (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1970), pp. 6–7.

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  7. Ray S. Cline, World Power Assessment: A Calculus of Strategic Drift (Boulder: Westview, 1980);

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  8. Wayne Selcher, ‘Brazil in the World: A Ranking Analysis of Capability and Status Measures’, in Wayne Selcher (ed.), Brazil in the International System: The Rise of a Middle Power (Boulder: Westview, 1981), pp. 25–63.

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  9. Davis B. Bobrow and Steve Chan, ‘Simple Labels and Complex Realities: National Security for the Third World’, in Edward Azar and Chung-in Moon (eds), National Security in the Third World: The Management of Internal and External Threats (London: Edward Elgar, 1988), pp. 44–76 at p. 65.

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  10. David Baldwin, ‘Power Analysis and World Politics: New Trends versus Old Tendencies’, World Politics, XXXI (1979): 161–94.

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  11. The single most important work is Golbery do Couto e Silva, A Geopolítica do Brasil (2nd edn; Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1967);

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  12. also Carlos de Meira Mattos, A Geopolítica e as Projeções de Poder (Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1977).

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  13. Ibid., p. 166; also Carlos de Meira Mattos, Geopolitica e Destino (Rio de Janeiro: José Olvmnio. 1975). p. 4.

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  14. Peter Evans, Dependent Development. The Alliance of Multinational, State and Local Capital in Brazil (2nd edn; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1981);

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  15. Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America (Beverly Hills, CA: University of California Press, 1979), especially the introduction.

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  16. Ruy Mauro Marini, ‘Brazilian Subimperialism’, Monthly Review, February 1972, p. 15.

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  20. The classic study of this subject is E. Bradford Burns, The Unwritten Alliance. Rio-Branco and Brazilian-American Relations (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 1966).

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  25. Barry Buzan, People, States and Fear. The National Security Problem in International Relations (London: Wheatsheaf, 1983).

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  26. Philippe Schmitter, ‘Idealism, Regime Change and Regional Cooperation: Lessons from the Southern Cone of Latin America’ (mimeo 1989).

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  27. David Vital, The Survival of Small States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971).

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  28. Robert Litvak, Détente and the Nixon Doctrine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), p. 137.

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  29. F. S. Northedge (ed.), The Use of Force in International Relations (London: Faber, 1974), p. 12.

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  30. Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye, Power and Interdependence (2nd edn; Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1989).

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© 1992 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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Hurrell, A. (1992). Brazil as a Regional Great Power: a Study in Ambivalence. In: Neumann, I.B. (eds) Regional Great Powers in International Politics. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-12661-3_2

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