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INSIGHT - BRAZIL - defense matters

Released on 2012-03-26 13:00 GMT

Email-ID 1092740
Date 2011-01-05 13:00:37
Summary of meetings at the Scoala de Guerra in Rio with a Brazilian Major
General and Air Force commander. Have a very good relationship with one
general in particular for future questions on Brazilian defense
The biggest priority for the Brazilian military right now is
modernization. A military is like a dog you keep in your backyard. Our dog
has gotten really old, it's losing a lot of teeth, even going blind in one
eye. We don't need a Rottweiller, per se, but we do need a good guard dog,
just to let everyone know 'we're here.' For example, we really don't like
the idea of the U.S. Fourth Fleet coming near the Pre-Salt fields.
One of the biggest changes we've been adjusting to over the past few years
is a change in the chain of military command to include a larger civilian
role. The creation of ministry of defense was an important aspect of this.
Now we have more of a discussion between government and military on major
issues. Civil-mil relations are healthy now. It took time since the
military dictatorship only ended in 1985, but Brazilians understand now
that defense is not just for the military, it's for the nation. I would
say that trust has been rebuilt only very recently. We were a bit
concerned over how Dilma (former guerrilla) would act with the military,
but she was very careful in her inauguration speech (i'm forgetting the
exact line now -- but something about how she would not hold resentment
against the military, which came as a big sigh of relief)
We have a problem in developing a military industrial complex (we really
dont have one right now) -- our own military is our worst customer.
When we want to develop something and export it, the government will first
ask, well, how many of those do we have first? typically, we would have
0, and there was always an issue of money. We were never used to having a
real defense budget. So the miltary has found a way to 'lease' certain
military equipment to the different branches of the armed forces so Brazil
can say they have X many, so we can export Y many.
Brazil's defense mentality is all about deterrence. We are not looking for
wars, but we want to build own defenses. (this is something that is really
stressed a lot - brazil has absolute zero interest in conflict - they want
peace with all their neighbors, etc - sounds a lot like turkey)
Yes there is a rivalry with Argentina, but we have an accommodation. We
don't have a war posture toward Argentina -- in fact, Brazil wants the
Argentina economy to recover so Mercosur can work [note -- this is along
the same lines of what Ambassador Azambuja described to me.] I have really
strong relationships with all my Argentine defense counterparts.. the
biggest deference I see between us and them is that their morale is really
down. Brazil is different -- our military-civil transition was the
smoothest in the region if you compare it to Argentina and Chile.
Our Amazon strategy is all about territorial sovereignty. This is a
growing focus of Brazilian defense priorities. the problem traces back to
the 1850s, but even if you look really recently, there was a book written
in the 1980s (forget the name) - that discussed the internationalization
of the Amazon. This book really freaked Brazil out. Brazil is seriously
concerned about all the foreign players in Amazon, NGOs, American biotech
companies etc. operating there under the impression that the Amazon falls
under this genre of international 'public goods'. The Amazon belongs to
Brazil. We are blessed with resources, (as Azumbaja said, we are a
freshwater superpower.) There is a sort of conspiracy that is seriously
framing the mindset of the government and military that believes an
outside force could begin a secessionist movement with the Indians in the
Amazon and threaten Brazil's territorial sovereignty.
So, Brazil is building up defenses and is setting up double perimeter in
Amazon -- 3 battalions deployed to the Amazon so far. Before we had no
means of patrolling those borders, but now we do have water, air and land
patrols to interdict smugglers and prevent FARC from crossing over and
buying food and supplies as they would do regularly in the past.
Jet fighter deal
We are frustrated. The longer they wait to decide, the more they are
putting the country at risk. - Lula should have announced it. Right now we
are having to lease old Mirages from the Israelis. This needs to move
Brazil doesn't want to have a diverse set of military suppliers -- it's a
logistical nightmare
The French option makes sense and we are leaning heavily toward the
Rafales for strategic reasons.
Tech transfer is crucial in this deal.
We are tired of this 'old lady from Idaho' problem with the US Congress.
Some old lady in Idaho sees on TV how we are fighting favelas and crime
in Rio and someone writes to their congressman and says don't give brazil
those fighter jets. We're sick of these restrictions.
Boeing has tried to sweeten the deal by saying they will give 'adquate
tech sharing,' whatever that means. Brazil doesn't want to deal with those
restricitons anymore. We had a huge problem dealing with the Tucano
aircraft - We wanted to sell these Tucanos to VZ, but then US said we
can't. So then what happens? VZ buys from Russia. That's very
frustrating for us. Then the US makes a big deal about Russian arms sales
in South America. Well, the US is facilitating those sales.
There is a complete consensus that Brazil is going to move forward with
the nuclear submarine strategy. Again, it's based on deterrence - to say
'we have it.'
Dilma always asks - what is the cascade effect for the jet fighters,
nuclear submarines?
she'll only approve these initiatives if they will produce jobs, and they
The military is also very involved in development projects that the
government really cares about, which helps build trust - Dilma has kept
all continuity with the Brazilian defense appointments, and this is good
for us.
Chile is arming itself, VZ is arming itself, Brazil feels the pressure.
not we don't see this as an urgent arms race. We do need to get moving,
Most of Brazil's attention is on Paraguay -- we need political stability
and stability over the Itaipu arrangements - we send reminders, but dont
want to interfere directly in neighbors' affairs
from journalist - Brazil doesn't have an official definition of
'terrorism' Instead, it's referred to as drug trafficking. Reason is
Brazil doesn't want to give any impression or make itself a target for
terrorists. THis was expressed in the Wikileaks.
(rest of these notes are included with more context in the favela insight
i sent out a couple days ago)
Army should be in reserve role for favela crackdown, but police not yet
reliable, trained, etc.
Rocinha next likely target -- favelas in west sector of Rio where all the
construction is happening for the games
Govt is building trust, but needs to act fast, prevent the drug groups
from aligning and going on offensive - twisting the arm of the state
problem is with the games coming up, not enough time - can[t have
crackdowns on tv - major dilemma for the government