Hello Brazil, Farewell Brazil


Sao Paolo Steve Clemons.jpg
My colleague and friend, Parag Khanna, who is with me in Brazil right now started the Brazil chapter in his acclaimed book, Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century, with George Bush’s first words about the country during his first visit. According to Khanna, Bush said, “Brazil is big!”
And it is. I had much the same reaction — but it’s also fascinating, complex, on the move, and has a confidence about its place in the next global order that should excite anyone who takes the time to observe how Brazil is surfing towards a more globally significant international future.
Ben Katcher, yesterday, wrote about Henry Kissinger’s skepticism about the BRICs. I can’t wait to test Kissinger’s resolve about this — and whether his understanding of the global order is out of date. Kissinger will be speaking at a major US foreign policy sponsored by the Nixon Center in May — and I think that he may be missing one of the most interesting shifts in global power in many decades.
In any case, the photo above was taken from my airplane window while landing in Sao Paulo, a city that is larger than many nations. It’s just huge.
I then went to Brasilia, the well-organized capital city that is in its design an urban tribute to modernist architecture. Coincidentally, I arrived on the 50th anniversary of the city’s birthday and enjoyed hanging out with lots of new Brazilian friends.
I will write more on the plane about an interesting conference I just participated in on the topic of “Global Governance” sponsored by Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and organized by the charismatic Deputy Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota and the paradigm-challenging David Rothkopf.
This was my first trip to Brazil — and embarrassingly, my first trip to South America. I’ll definitely be back.
Now back to DC for a few hours.
— Steve Clemons


10 comments on “Hello Brazil, Farewell Brazil

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  2. Mr.Murder says:

    kissinger? GH Venture Partners. They’ve had plans for a long time In South America.
    Colin Powell was in South America on 9-11 to visit the deposed Afghan King. OPEC members were discussing future plans with their money on the continent.


  3. Davidikus says:

    I am absolutely certain you’ll be back in Latin America, most probably Brazil, perhaps Argentina and other countries too! Brazil is big and increasingly important economically and politically (it won’t be very long before it is a bigger economic power than the UK and soon thereafter it will overtake France too).
    I hope you will experience Brasilia again, it is indeed one of the greatest example of modernist architecture & urbanism in the world. I am currently publishing one post a day in tribute to Brasilia because of the anniversary. I started on the 21 April and will keep going until 21 May (hopefully).


  4. dianaw says:

    Steve: I’m so glad you are turning your expertise and intelligence to this region. We need you to be involved in this part of the world. It has huge potential and huge problems. Brazil is one of the success stories, but there are other countries in this region that have tremendous potential and could go in a lot of different directions. Despite serious corruption problems, this region is unique. It has great resources, and unlike the Middle East or Africa, it has at least a history of democracy, in spite of some terrible failures.
    I have visited Brazil, Ecuador, and Colombia. All could be a force for progress or a force for disaster in the future. We need the Steve Clemons/NAF team to focus more of their resources on this. We will all benefit if you do. I will look forward to more posts like this.


  5. sanitychecker says:

    Brazil is the only widely loved major power on earth. It has the only national soccer team whose victories are greeted by everyone (except its big neighbor).
    May Brazil keep it that way.


  6. just john says:

    I forget who it was who asked: Brazil’s history has a lot in common with the USA’s, so how come Brazil doesn’t get into wars all the time?


  7. GregP says:

    This graph sort of sums it up — the Barclay’s iShares Brazil ETF vs. the S&P 500 over the past 5 years:


  8. Don Bacon says:

    The future belongs to Asia.
    Economic growth rates 2009 (Wiki):
    China 8.7
    India 6.5
    Indonesia 4.4
    Brazil 0.1
    World -1
    USA -2.4
    Russia -7.9


  9. ... says:

    steve – good stuff… thanks for this article and i am glad you have ventured to brazil.. i think kissinger is out of touch, but his message is one that seems to resonate with a certain crowd, which i also think is out of touch… glad you are willing to go see a place and get a feel for it on your own, rather then relying on the advice of others…


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