Bolsonaro, Trump and trance diplomacy

Bolsonaro arrives in Washington with Brazilian diplomacy in a political, administrative and mystical trance.

By Marcelo Zero

One can best understand Ernesto Araujo – our vibrant, pre-Enlightenment Foreign Relations Minister – as a spiritual being who is detached from materialism. He recently said, for example, that Brazil should not betray its soul and its values to sell soy and minerals.

It looks like the Minister experienced this epiphany after contemplating, in mystical ecstasy, the supreme example of the new Messiah of the West, the Holy Trump.

As we know, the new Western Messiahs are waging a holy crusade against China, Russia, the Islamic nations, and other maligned nations that threaten Christian values and the soul of the Western World.

Apparently, this crusade has no relationship whatsoever with economic or geopolitical disputes. It is a struggle that takes place in the diaphanous cultural and metaphysical field, unattached from profane and banal materialist motivations, such as those related to economics, commerce and the realpolitik of international relations.

Therefore, Trump’s offensive against China has nothing to do with the growing space that it is occupying in the world economy and world trade, but with a disinterested defense of the western soul. Likewise, the Western Messiah’s offensive against Venezuela is pious humanitarian intervention, totally unrelated to the odor of sulfur emanating from the world’s largest oil field.

However during a brief, rational break from his mystical ecstasy, the Templar Minister cited material, mundane reasons for Brazil to automatically align itself with the disinterested interests of the new Messiah Trump. According to him, Brazil should align itself with Trump’s US because from the early 20th century until mid-1970s, Brazil grew a lot due to its close association with the United States.

It may be that this rationale came to Minister Araujo from the unfathomable and unverifiable mystical effluvia, but in the earthly and vulgar world of empirical reality, there is no evidence supporting the hypothesis that fills his western soul.

The table below shows official data on the destination of Brazilian exports between 1901 and 2006. As shown, US participation in this flux only stands out during two periods: World War 1, for obvious reasons, and during the period between the end of World War 2 and the mid-1960s, when Europe was still recovering from its internal conflicts.

Destination of Brazilian exports (%), by region and nation (1901-2006). Source: MDIC
Destination of Brazilian exports (%), by region and nation (1901-2006). Source: MDIC

From the beginning of the 20th century until World War II, except for the brief period during World War 1, Europe had a much greater level of commercial and economic importance for Brazil. And in the period from the mid-1960s to 2006, Europe retakes a slight lead compared to the US, and other regions begin to gain importance, like Asia and South America.

In terms of investment, US direct investment in Brazil only surpassed British investment after World War II, without even taking other nations into consideration. Furthermore, during the 50’s – 70’s, the most important investments in Brazil were made by the government, through state companies and the Brazilian National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES).

What history and worldly empirical data says is that Brazil does better when it diversifies its partnerships and does not bet its chips on one country. Besides enabling greater profit and diversification it contributes to an immaterial factor of enormous practical consequences: the extension of national autonomy and the sovereignty or – putting it into a language that that would please our pre-Enlightenment Foreign Minister – it frees and lightens the Brazilian soul.

The records of countries that bet on privileged relationships with the US, like Mexico, are not good. The Mexican soul, so far from God and so close to the United States, suffers with 50% of its population now living below the poverty line. It feels imprisoned by the wall that the new Western Messiah wants to build.

Still, our chaste Captain and his Foreign Minister insist, contrary to Brazil’s objective interests, in aligning with Trump’s US on his crusade against a multi-polar world that defies the western soul. In this way, we will give up the earthly pleasures of commercial surpluses, investment diversification, multiple cooperation, and wide and autonomous presence in world forums, in exchange for a modest place with the spiritual hosts of the new Messiah.

However, even this modest place is not guaranteed. As Garrincha the great philosopher from Pau Grande – much more important to the national soul than the astrologer from Richmond [Olavo Carvalho] ever was – once said, it will be necessary to negotiate all this with the Russians, who in this case are Americans.

Trump, heavily influenced by Samuel P. Huntington, the author of The Clash of Civilizations, does not consider Latin American souls as participants in western civilization, which is geographically restricted to North America and Europe. According to them, we Brazilians belong to the Latin American civilization, a lower subdivision of the superior western one. Our souls and those of our neighbors are not included in the West. This is whey the new Messiah is building a wall to keep out the Latin souls and the bodies that carry them.

The new Messiah is also very committed to protecting his spiritual paradise from earthly goods and services from all countries, including Brazil, which has already suffered from import barriers against steel, aluminum and other products. In return, the altruistic Brazil of the pious Foreign Minister will probably offer the US tariff-free quotas for American wheat, damaging MERCOSUR, and entry without visas for North American citizens, with no demand of reciprocity from the superior souls of the North.

It will therefore be a difficult task for Brazil to gain a prominent place in the metaphysical legions of the new protectionist Messiah in the meager 20 minutes that were reserved for the meeting with Captain Bolsonaro during his trip to the United States. The spiritual Foreign Affairs Minister is likely to return with only ordinary earthly conquests, such as giving away the Alcantara Rocket Launching Base to the United States.

An even more difficult task, a work of Sisyphus, will be to clean up Bolsonaro’s image abroad. Even with its very competent technical staff, Itamaraty Foreign Ministry will not be able to compete with the muddy avalanche of tweets – a political Brumadinho dam break – made by the Bolsonaro clan.

Judging by the strategy used against Jean Wyllys at the UN in Geneva their efforts will backfire. In this case, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s image was deeply damaged. The Brazilian UN delegation in Geneva’s ideological attack against Wyllys for wearing red clothing was perhaps the lowest episode in the history of Brazilian foreign relations. This is what happens when hierarchy and common sense are subverted.

The foreign relations disaster which is already underway could be worsened by the proposal to replace career ambassadors with lobbyists in key posts.

It is sad to see the once serious Brazilian diplomatic corps led by people who seem to have been transposed into mystical ecstasy by the arrow of idiocy. It is even sadder to note that those who align themselves with the souls of others have already lost theirs.





By Marcelo Zero

Marcelo Zero is a sociologist, international relations specialist and technical adviser to the PT Senatorial leadership.