Sunday, March 20th 2011 - 07:23 UTC

Obama praises Brazil but falls short of backing bid for UN Security Council

US President Barack Obama heralded Brazil's “extraordinary” rise on the world stage but stopped short of backing its bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The two leaders toast for improved and deeper relations (Photo AP)

At the start of a five-day trip to Latin America Saturday in Latin America, Obama told a joint briefing with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff that his visit was a historic opportunity to strengthen US ties with the region's largest economy.

“Brazil's extraordinary rise, Madam President, has captured the attention of the world,” he said. “Put simply, the United states doesn't simply recognize Brazil's rise. We support it enthusiastically.”

Obama said he wants to ensure a bigger US share in Latin America's robust economic growth. Boosting US exports helps create jobs back home and will aid his 2012 presidential re-election hope.

Rousseff struck a more confrontational tone, and cited the need for a “relationship of equals” as Brazil's clout in global affairs grows with its economy.

She barely looked at Obama during her remarks, and focused largely on issues that divide the two nations such as trade and the US decision to print money to aid its economic recovery, a move that has hurt Brazil as capital flows make its currency overvalued.

“In the past, our relations were often characterized by empty rhetoric that papered over what was really at stake between us,” she said, citing US agricultural subsidies and a tariff on Brazilian ethanol as barriers to be torn down.

“I am equally concerned with the slow pace of the reforms in the multilateral institutions that still reflect an old world,” she said.

Brazil believes its greater diplomatic and economic clout have earned it a permanent Security Council seat. Rousseff said this was not about “a minor interest of bureaucratic occupation of spaces,” but because she thinks it will produce better results in the search for peace.

In a joint statement, Obama and Rousseff said they recognized the need to reform international institutions to reflect the “current political and economic realities.”

But Washington did not explicitly back Brazil's aspirations for a permanent UN Security Council seat, as he did for India when visiting New Delhi in November.

“President Obama expressed appreciation for Brazil's aspiration to become a permanent member of the Security Council,” the statement said.

Late Saturday the First Family flew to Rio do Janeiro where they have a full program for Sunday including an important speech by Obama on US/Latam relations. Originally it was scheduled to take place in an open plaza, --Cinelandia—in the heart of Rio but for security reasons it was moved to the Municipal Theatre.

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1 Worne (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 08:53 am Report abuse
How can the US support India's bid and not Brazil's. I thought the US was in a big rush to raise the number UNSC seats (to its own detriment).
2 riomarcos (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 12:14 pm Report abuse
Lula ruined any Brazilian chance whatsoever of getting a Security Council seat by cozying up to Ahmadinejad and Chavez.
3 Philippe (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 12:26 pm Report abuse
Brazil was, is, and will always be a permanent candidate to a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. In the days of the old League of Nations, Brazil already wanted a permanent seat! Concerning this ambition, Brazil has a number of great limitations:
1. It was not, and still is not, a first class military power. Actually, it is a second rate military power, at best. Even in the area of UN Peacekeeping Operations, Uruguay could give Brazil one lesson, or two.
2. During the 1982 Argentinean aggression against the defenseless Falkland Islands, Brazil did nothing to stop that piratical invasion, just blah, blah.
3. In the Americas there are are only two countries really qualified to occupy a UNSC permanent seat: the USA, as a founding permanent member, and Canada- not Brazil!
4. Canada has a distinguished itself in the first and second World Wars, and now it is in front row helping to eradicate that silly Libyan monster!
Elementary, my dear Watson!

4 Forgetit87 (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 01:19 pm Report abuse

1 - I'd love to know what Uruguay has to teach about military matters to Brazil...or to any country in the world. Since Brazil heads the UN mission in Haiti and Uruguay does nothing but to follow Brazil's orders there, the UN Peacekeepers would be interested in that.
2 - During the FI War, Brazil not only didn't condemn Argentina's invasion but actually provided some military aircraft to Argentina's Air Force. I'm very proud of that. Foreign policy was the sole bright spot that I can find in the Figueiredo administration.
3 & 4 - That Canada is standing up for the US initiative in Libya is unsurprising. Like other countries in the English-speaking world, it gravitates around the US.

We'll see how things will turn out in Libya. My bet is that this action will soon be on the list of recent western military embarassments. My predictions:
- Casualties, on both the pro- and the anti-Gadaffi sides, will skyrocket. Civilians will suffer, too;
- Economic losses;
- Gadaffi will try to capitalize from the intervention and the resulting deaths and economic damage by using anti-western rhetoric to rally popular support for himself and against the rebels, whom he'll portray as traitors. He'll succeed, since nobody likes to see his country being shelled, even if it's to support oil prices stability...sorry, I meant “human rights”;
- Gadaffi won't be defeated. Recent history has shown that the west's coward strategy of bombing a country to the Stone Age isn't enough to win a war. That may cause many casualties, it may even kill some key people in the battled regime: but to defeat it, only troops will do. And the US's said already that it won't discharge any troops there (I guess the it's already overstretched).

It's clear the west was moved into action by the prospect of oil output instability. About that Brazil has nothing to fear - we've been oil independent for years already. And no blood of ours should be shed for the interest of others.
5 Forgetit86 (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 01:20 pm Report abuse

Forgive Lula for having chosen Brazil's sovereignty and right to an independent foreign policy over SC permanent membership. Some of us actually believe the latter is more important than the former. History will probably be on our side. After all, it has already shown that to be, or to look like, a satellite of a foreign power is not the way to go. Before the UN was founded, the US had promised Brazil that it would be given a SC permanent membership in exchange for some support to US operations in the WWII. Brazilian membership was, however, blocked by the Soviet Union, which considered Brazil a US satellite. If Brazil reduced itself to a client state of the US, like you'd prefer, some other country would again block Brazilian membership: for sure Russia and China would do that, and perhaps France, too.
6 ptolemy (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 01:59 pm Report abuse

“During the FI War, Brazil not only didn't condemn Argentina's invasion but actually provided some military aircraft to Argentina's Air Force.” Do have a link for this piece of information? I can find no reference to it. Thanks
7 mastershakejb (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 05:19 pm Report abuse
Well I'm impressed by Rousseff's straightforwardness, but I'm disappointed in Obama's not backing Brazil's security council bid. I do think though, that Brazil will eventually get the security council position anyway.....this just delays it, but by how much will be the question.
8 Philippe (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 05:40 pm Report abuse
To: Forgetit87
1. I never said that Uruguay could give “military lessons” to Brazil.
2. I said that in the field of Peacekeeping Operations, Uruguay could teach Brazil one or two things. This is an entirely different matter!
3. Peacekeeping is not strictly a “military” activity, like “Peacemaking.” In the area of “Peacekeeping,” Uruguay is well-known to be at the head of the class, among Latin American countries, in terms of numbers of missions, and in different areas of the world. Anybody interested in UN Peacekeeping Operations can consult one of the literally thousands of reports, full of statistics, that have been printed for the readers' delight.
4. Brazil's wishy washy foreign policies allowed the provision of some Embraer maritime patrol airplanes, on loan, to Argentina- after the 1982 war of aggression.
Brazil, at the same time, also allowed the British Vulcan bomber to land in Rio upon a return flight to the UK via Ascension Island.
9 Forgetit87 (#) Mar 20th, 2011 - 08:26 pm Report abuse

Try to google something about an Embraer aircraft named EMB-111 and the Falklands War. That is the model Argentina employed in the war. On youtube there's a small video about its use in the 1982 war, but it's in Portuguese: Brazilian pilots also provided some training to their Argentine counterparts.


I know of one British aircraft that was allowed to land in Rio because it was passing through some technical difficulties. Isn't there an international agreement requiring nations to permit the landing of foreign aircraft in this kind of situation?
10 GeoffWard (#) Mar 21st, 2011 - 12:02 am Report abuse
Posters have alluded to USA military aid to the UK during the Falclands conflict.
It is my understanding that the greatest/most important contributions were in the fields of satellite surveillance and electronic intelligence.
Crucial and critical as these may have been, we will never know the extent of support or the terms that such support demanded.
11 Martin_Fierro (#) Mar 21st, 2011 - 05:38 am Report abuse
3 Philippe,

“2. During the 1982 Argentinean aggression against the defenseless Falkland Islands, Brazil did nothing to stop that piratical invasion, just blah, blah.”

Did this asshole just call Argentina 'pirates'?

Here is your flag:
12 lsolde (#) Mar 21st, 2011 - 10:25 am Report abuse
@11 Martino, you haven't got the courage to be real pirates. More like whinning children that can't get their own way.
“but l want the Falklands, l want them” No, nino “but l want them”
As for assholes, yes you are that alright.
13 Typhoon (#) Mar 21st, 2011 - 03:19 pm Report abuse
Brazil a permanent Security Council member? What a joke. Brazil still hasn't grown up enough. Maybe in a hundred years or so!
14 Fido Dido (#) Mar 25th, 2011 - 03:49 am Report abuse
Typhoon buffoon, you need to grow up and realize, everything you type here is a joke and that makes you look like the greatest joker. Maybe in a month.

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