The Washington Dissensus: A Privileged Observer's Perspective on US-Brazil Relations/His Own Man

By Feinberg, Richard | Foreign Affairs, January/February 2015 | Go to article overview

The Washington Dissensus: A Privileged Observer's Perspective on US-Brazil Relations/His Own Man


Feinberg, Richard, Foreign Affairs


The Washington Dissensus: A Privileged Observer's Perspective on US-Brazil Relations BY RUBENS BARBOSA. Vanderbilt University Press, 2014, 272 pp. $69.95.

His Own Man BY EDGARD TELLES RIBEIRO. TRANSLATED BY KIM M. HASTINGS. Other Press, 2014, 352 pp. $17.95.

Barbosa, who served as Brazil's ambassador to Washington from 1999 to 2004, assesses U.S. diplomacy with a condescension born of wounded pride-a common feeling among his peers in Latin American diplomatic corps. But the distinguished diplomat's hard-hitting memoir focuses its main attacks on his own country's leadership, firing pointblank shots at then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his foreign minister, Celso Amorim. Barbosa contends that the Lula administration's anti-American posture harmed Brazilian national interests by foolishly wasting many opportunities to make real progress on promising U.S.-Brazilian agreements and by undermining Brazilian efforts to win a permanent seat on the un Security Council. In devastating detail, Barbosa portrays Brazil's diplomats as confused about their fundamental purpose and undecided as to just what their country wants out of its relations with the United States-a lack of self-knowledge that only exacerbates the mistrust between Brasília and Washington. Barbosa's provocative broadside will likely accelerate the ongoing debate in Brazil over how best to exploit its position as an emerging regional power. …

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