Brazil and Peacekeeping: Policy Not Altruism

The Economist covers Brazil’s military/ police competence in peace-keeping, which is virtually identical to the counterinsurgency (COIN) as practiced by American Marines in Iraq and Afganistan – a parallel which should be noted if Brazil and American interests align in Latin America or Africa, where Brazilian cultural strengths (official census documents note 130 ethnic shades) would be most powerful. This Brazilian peace-keeping has economic implications because the middle class in emerging markets is located in drug-infested favelas, as The Economist special report on emerging markets middle class notes. This emerging markets middle class demographic is also the source of so-called small-T taliban, or Accidental Guerillas in the phrase of Australian COIN expert, David KilCullen.

“Brazil has long been an enthusiastic peacekeeper, sending troops to half the 60 or so UN operations since 1948. But in the past few years, peacekeeping has become a more important component of Brazil’s foreign policy, while also playing a role back home. It has served as a way for Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the president since 2003, to boost his country’s standing in the world. “Brazil wants to make, as well as follow, international norms,” says Monica Herz of the Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro. “Brazil’s elite thinks peacekeeping is part of the price you have to pay to be among the nations who make the rules.” The clearest sign of this calculation was the decision in 2004 to take charge of the Haiti operation, now 13,000 strong and the UN’s third-largest mission. This month Brazil announced that it will also take command of the naval part of the UN’s mission in Lebanon. Haiti was significant not just because this was the first mission Brazil commanded, but also because it showed that the government was willing to stretch what until then had been an article of foreign-policy faith: non- interference in other countries’ internal affairs. Brazil had previously balked at missions mandated under chapter seven of the UN charter, which permits forcible intervention (“peace enforcement” as opposed to peacekeeping, which takes place under chapter six and requires the consent of those concerned). Haiti was a chapter-seven operation, and Brazil’s involvement required diplomatic contortions by both it and the UN to pretend that it wasn’t. In 2005 Brazil boosted its credentials further by opening a peacekeeping school, the Centro de Instrução de Operações de Paz (CIOpPaz) near Rio de Janeiro. CIOpPaz has since trained 15,000 troops, of which 2,300 are on active duty. All are volunteers and the training programmes are hugely oversubscribed. This effort has domestic payoffs, too. There may be some synergy between peacekeeping and security in favelas (slums). Brazil’s peacekeepers conduct joint exercises with the police in favelas, while the director of Viva Rio, an NGO that works in some of Rio de Janeiro’s toughest slums, teaches at CIOpPaz.”

Published by Janar Wasito

Janar Wasito is the manager of Magis Capital in San Diego, CA. He is a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law School, and a former Marine Officer.

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