Brazil, which currently holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, recently abstained on a key vote that, had it not gone down in defeat, would have strongly condemned Syria for using lethal force against its own largely unarmed population. Such street confrontations in the past have resulted in the death of almost three thousand defenseless Syrian nationals. As a result of Chinese and Russian Security Council vetoes and four abstentions (including that of Brazil), the resolution fell short of the number of votes needed to implement it. Bashar al-Assad’s ruthless regime’s already harsh policies have resulted in the present Syrian bloodbath now being witnessed Damascus’ police-state tactics.
Earlier this year, BRICS members, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, as well as Germany, abstained from voting on an initiative regarding the no-fly zone policy in Libya, in order to prevent the now-ousted Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi from ordering his armed forces to turn their weapons on his civilian opponents.
Brazil’s membership in the BRICS nations seems to have taken precedence over its traditional deference to Washington when it comes to carrying out its inter-American commitments, further evidence of a marked deterioration in Brazil-U.S. relations. But in recent years, China has soared to the top as Brazil’s major trade partner and increasingly strategic ally, while Brazil’s newfound focus on the Middle East appears to be increasingly seen as an effort to be less involved in the inter-American venue than in the global economy as a whole. China is now playing a critical role in helping Brazil to overcome the setbacks now being felt in its formerly close U.S. ties. This declining partnership between the two western hemispheric giants has given Brazil a growing self-confidence in its readiness to play a more autonomous role in current diplomatic transactions. While China is today Brazil’s biggest trade partner, the latter still has a significant economic relationship with the still all-important, if declining volume of United States trade, which would languish if it was further neglected by any noticeably lesser U.S. role, considering that the outlook for Brazil’s economic conditions now do not look as promising as they did in the beginning of the year. The Brasilia-Washington relationship is now being seen as needing further definition and additional calories.
This analysis was prepared by COHA Research Associate Linnea LaMon.