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Brazil, Turkey emerge as new powers 4 avril 2012

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
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The Miami Herald (USA) Wednesday, 04.04.12

By Henri J. Barkey and Johanna Mendelson *
 
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff arrives in Washington on Monday. Her meeting with President Obama is a reminder of how much international relations have changed during the last decade. The United States must increasingly rely on rising powers such as Brazil to manage an ever more-complex world.

On the other side of the Atlantic is another rising power, Turkey, which has become a pivotal power in the wake of the Arab Spring. Brazil is the uncontested leader in South America, and Turkey is a NATO member central to managing the Syrian quagmire. Though the United States may not be on the same wavelength as either of these new powers, Washington increasingly realizes that it does not have all the answers or all the resources at its disposal.

As such, Rousseff’s visit is more than symbolic. It should represent the beginning of a new American policy toward Brazil previously marked by benign indifference. Yes, the U.S. has recognized Brazil’s role as the new energy axis of the Western Hemisphere, and earlier this decade it acknowledged our partnership around the development of renewable biofuels, but something different arises today. The outmoded vision of Brazil is being replaced by a more realistic and cooperative approach.

Brazil and Turkey occupy comparable positions in their regions and have comparable ambitious foreign policy agendas. They have followed similar economic paths, both struggling with high inflation, balance of payments crises, and inefficient economies before emerging as the sixth and 17th largest economies in the world with dynamic export sectors. They both have wrestled with meddlesome generals who overthrew governments.

 Brazil and Turkey offer an opportunity for the United States to build lasting alliances with rising powers to deal with some of the world’s most complex strategic issues. The Obama administration would be wise not to waste the opportunity of Rousseff’s visit.

For Brazil, a strong and balanced relationship could help the United States manage outlier countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, all of whom share borders with Brazil and seem far more reticent to cross Brasilia than Washington. Meanwhile Turkey has become a key U.S. ally in dealing with ongoing turmoil in Syria. From the outset, Obama acknowledged that there are many things the United States cannot do alone, like fighting al Qaida or dealing with genocide. Both Turkey and Brazil embrace similar views of multilateralism.

In the midst of the European financial crisis, both Brazil and Turkey offer important economic allies that have large middle classes. China is Brazil’s main economic partner, buying up impressive amounts of commodities to feed the Asian giant’s growing economy. But China’s trade policy is undermining manufacturing sectors in both Turkey and Brazil. They both, therefore, share the U.S. interest in convincing China to soften its export-first approach and expand its domestic economy.

Brazil and Turkey are two nations that espouse soft power as a means of winning influence on the global stage. Both countries seek friendly relations with their neighbors, even when neighbors behave badly on the international scene. The Middle East may be far less stable than Latin America, but both Brazil and Turkey would like to establish zones of stability to provide unhindered access to their dynamic and capable private sectors.

Though neither country aspires to nuclear weapons, nuclear issues complicate the relationship with the United States. Brazil and Turkey collaborated in 2010 in constructing a separate deal over the controversial Iranian nuclear program. The Tehran Research Reactor proposal signed by Rousseff’s predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan challenged and angered Washington. President Rousseff’s visit to Washington underscores Brazil’s desire to take a more-responsible role in dealing with global nuclear proliferation.

Both Brazil and Turkey seek recognition and respect from the United States. Brazil has sought a discussion of Security Council reform, or a commitment to a permanent seat in that body. Turkey wants to be recognized as Washington’s primary ally in its immediate region, albeit with a wide degree of freedom.

Their wishes will not be completely satisfied by the United States. Nevertheless, Washington cannot ignore them in its foreign-policy calculations. Brazil and Turkey can help just as much as they can stymie the execution of American foreign policy.

* Henri J. Barkey is a professor of international relations at Lehigh University and Johanna Mendelson Forman is a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C.

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