Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Brazil on the Global Stage *

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Brazil on the Global Stage *

Article excerpt

(Stuenkel, Oliver and Taylor, Matthew M. (eds.) Brazil on the Global Stage: Power, Ideas, and the Liberal International Order. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US, 2015)

Edited by Oliver Stuenkel and Matthew M. Taylor, 'Brazil on the Global Stage' brings together the reflections of researchers from Brazilian and American institutions about Brazil's engagement with the current liberal order. In the book, the liberal global order is defined by "open markets, international institutions, cooperative security, democratic community, collective problem solving, shared sovereignty over some issues, and the rule of law" (STUENKEL and TAYLOR, 2015, p. 06), all of which follows the common understanding of liberal internationalists such as John Ikenberry. It reached its peak in the post-Cold War period under the auspices of the U.S., but in the past two decades, it has been passing through a process of decentralization and multipolarization that puts in check the hierarchies of that order, U.S. supremacy, and the bases of international liberalism.

In this context of change, the book follows debates that are becoming more and more common about the roles being taken by emerging powers in the global order and their capacity to reform and undo current institutions. The main theoretical frameworks in International Relations have divergent expectations about the behavior of these countries in the face of an order in which they have always had peripheral roles. A liberal institutionalist argument defends the proposition that these emerging powers tend to become integrated into this hegemonic order because it sustains a favorable environment for their development without demanding large costs for establishing global public goods. For some realists, however, this would mean underestimating these emerging powers' desire for power, which would tend to cut against the status quo. A good part of this debate has been concentrated on the rise of China (and, to a lesser degree, that of India) as a factor of systemic transformation.

The book edited by Stuenkel and Taylor contributes to this debate with a reflection on how Brazil understands and operates in the current liberal global order. It starts from the premise that Brazil does not confirm the expectation that liberal capitalist democracies will necessary converge in the direction of the U.S.-led liberal order. In fact, they can actually present important challenges with different understandings about what democracy means on the global plane and how international relations should operate among sovereign states.

The interest in the case of Brazil is justified by its recent engagement in important international matters, its active role in the region, and its interest in contributing to global matters that had until recently been quite uncommon for Brazilian diplomacy to engage with. Brazil was a big sponsor of regional integration projects (such as UNASUL and CELAC) and South-South coalitions (such as the BRICS and IBSA). Brazil took on the leadership of the group of 20 developing countries during the negotiations of the WTO (G-20) and become involved, along with Turkey, in the negotiations on the Iranian nuclear crisis. It led proposals for changes in the current governance of the Internet and on the legitimacy of the norms of humanitarian intervention, proposing the concept of the 'responsibility to protect' and accepting the challenge of leading a peacekeeping operation in Haiti. Brazil's international image improved with its response to important global events and its victories in elections for key positions in multilateral organizations such as the FAO and WTO.

Placing the realist assumption of emerging powers' disruptive tendencies in relative terms, the book edited by Stuenkel and Taylor draw attention to Brazil's stance, which in no way is antagonistic to the current liberal global order. They bring to light Brazil's 'ambiguous relationship' with international structures of governance, sitting on the fence between adhering to them and contesting them. …

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