AN ESSAY BY
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN BRAZIL AND THE UNITED STATES IS fascinating but puzzling. Brazil is a country that, on a wide list of measures and indices, matters both to the outside world as a whole and to the United States in particular. It is the fifth most populous country in the world (with a 2004 population of 182 million), after China, India, Indonesia, and the United States, and ahead of Japan and Russia. It has the world's twelfth largest gross domestic product (GDP), dropping from being the eighth largest in 1998. It is the largest country in South America (comprising 45 percent of the population of Central and South America and contributing 51.5 percent of the regional GDP). Brazil's is the seventh largest economy in terms of services output, the third largest producer of meat, the second largest producer of fruit and of sugar, and the third largest producer of oil seeds.
Equally, it is not difficult to show that what happens in Brazil has the potential to affect both U.S. society and U.S. foreign policy interests. This is the case whether we are talking about tropical forests and the environment, about the functioning of the global financial system, or about the implications of political developments within Brazil for South America as a whole. Picking up an old line of commentary, analysts in the late 1990s identified Brazil as one of the “Big Ten” emerging markets, along with countries like China and India, which are “acquiring enough power to change the face of global politics and economics.” 1 Others have seen the country as one of the “pivotal states” that will dominate future U.S. policy toward the developing world. 2
And yet, there appears to be a large gap between such assertions of Brazil's importance and the actual character of U.S.-Brazil relations. In 1982 Albert Fishlow described the relationship as “missing.” 3 As the chapters in this book have shown, it is clearly no longer missing; in some respects there has been convergence as compared to the 1970s and 1980s; and there is a clear agenda of