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Cablegate: Regional Stability, Global Aspirations Behind New

VZCZCXRO6146
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHBR #0159/01 0311324
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 311324Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0947
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 6550
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4433
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5274
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 3950
RUEHGE/AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN 1396
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ 5918
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 3676
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 7203
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 0351
RUEHPO/AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO 1434
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0351
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2379
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0131
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7648
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5742
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1533
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BRASILIA 000159

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR D, P, T, WHA, AND PM

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/31/2018
TAGS: MARR MCAP PREL
SUBJECT: REGIONAL STABILITY, GLOBAL ASPIRATIONS BEHIND NEW
DEFENSE POSTURE

REF: A. BRASILIA 0066
B. BRASILIA 0129
C. IIR 6 809 0092 08
D. IIR 6 809 0097 08
E. 2007 BRASILIA 1568
F. 2007 BRASILIA 2132
G. 2007 BRASILIA 2151
H. BRASILIA 0006
I. SAO PAULO 0019
J. 2007 BRASILIA 1836
K. BRASILIA 0093

Classified By: AMBASSADOR CLIFFORD M. SOBEL, REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D)

SUBJECT: Global Aspirations, Regional Stability, and Brazil's
Defense Posture

1. (S) Summary. Discussions between Ambassador Sobel and
Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, along with Brazilian
defense-related activities with France and Russia and in
South America suggest the key elements shaping Brazil's new
defense posture. The military's traditional role in
maintaining internal stability and its potential roles as
domestic crime-fighter and international peacekeeper will be
important elements in shaping Brazil's new national defense
strategy (septel). However, it is becoming clear that
regional stability, particularly with regard to Venezuela,
traditional sovereignty and border concerns, and Brazil's
"rightful" place on the regional and world stage will remain
central, and perhaps overriding motivations for the GOB. As
we prepare for Jobim,s March visit to Washington,
understanding of these basic Brazilian motivations regarding
security will be important in defining our approach to this
new opportunity for security engagement. End summary.

Jobim's Focus Becoming Clearer
------------------------------

2. (S) Over the course of several discussions with the
Ambassador (refs A and B), the most recent on the eve of his
departure on January 25 for France and Russia, Jobim revealed
in increasing detail his goals for these visits and his
activities in the hemisphere. The key elements that emerged
are 1) pursuit of a nuclear submarine, using French
assistance on propulsion as well as other systems; 2) a
general desire to increase Brazil's domestic manufacturing
capability for weapons via technology transfer; 3) more
specifically, an interest in becoming a service hub in South
America for Russian equipment, driven by a desire to have
greater leverage over Hugo Chavez's Venezuela; 4) a focus on
rebuilding Brazil's military capacity, including fighter
aircraft; and 5) a new, more structured organization of South
American defense ministers.

What Does It Mean?
------------------

3. (S) Jobim's visits to France and Russia (refs C and D) are
the GOB's first significant move to actively pursue these
priorities with countries that he believes will be willing to
provide the necessary technology transfer as well as
equipment. Moreover, Jobim was joined, exceptionally, by
presidential foreign policy advisor Marco Aurelio Garcia, MRE
Secretary General (Vice Minister) Samuel Guimaraes' chief of

SIPDIS
staff Marcos Pinta Gama, and Long Term Planning Minister
Roberto Mangabeira Unger. The presence of the first two
individuals, in particular, make clear that, for the first
time in decades, Brazil is beginning to consider security
issues as an important element of foreign policy.

4. (S) Although Jobim himself has not commented extensively

BRASILIA 00000159 002 OF 003


on the GOB's motivations for focusing on these items, they
dovetail with Brazil's traditional focus on regional
stability, the new regional threat posed by Venezuela, and
the need to defend its national sovereignty and borders.
Brazil's military and foreign policy elite make consistently
clear that regional stability is their overriding concern
within South America. Venezuela has now become the central
focus of Brazil's regional stability concerns. Brazilian
observers regularly and publicly express general concerns
about Chavez's destabilizing influence on Bolivia and
Ecuador, as well as his troubled relationship with Colombia,
even though Ministry of External Relations (MRE) contacts
refuse to admit to us even in private that they are worried
about Venezuelan interference in other countries. More
importantly, the Ambassador has now been told by three
respected members of the foreign policy elite--Senate Foreign
Affairs and National Defense Committee head Heraclito Fortes
(refs E and F), sitting senator and former president Jose
Sarney (refs G and H), and Former Finance Minister Antonio
Delfim Netto (ref I)--that they believe Venezuela under
Chavez could well make a military effort to reclaim the half
of Guyana (west of the Essequibo River) that it considers
lost territory, principally as a way to deflect public
attention from domestic woes.

5. (S) The general policy approach of Lula and his foreign
policy team in seeking to maintain stability in the region
does not differ enormously from that of his predecessors;
historically, Brazilian governments have avoided taking sides
in Latin America and followed a policy of trying to maintain
good relations with all of their neighbors. Uncertainty
about Venezuela has added a new element, however, leading to
a more concerted effort to contain Chavez. Brazil is the
leading advocate of Venezuelan admission to Mercosul, a move
that, if approved by the Brazilian and Paraguayan congresses,
will further complicate both the stated economic integration
and political objectives of the organization. From Lula,s
point of view, bringing Chavez into a political organization
in which Brazil has strong influence makes sense.

6. (S) Similarly, Lula's proposal to create a new
organization of South American regional defense ministers,
which Jobim is actively pursuing, may achieve little in the
way of defense coordination, but would serve a political
objective of bringing Venezuela and other regional
troublemakers into a common organization that Brazil could
use to exercise a measure of control. Finally, while the
proposal to serve as a hub for servicing Russian equipment in
the region will do little to develop Brazil's defense
manufacturing capacity or to serve Brazil's own defense
needs, it does make sense if Brazil believes that performing
such a function could help control the spread of Russian
weapons in the region. This objective might also explain the
interest in allowing a Russian military jeep manufacturer to
set up shop in Porto Alegre (ref A), a capability Brazil does
not need but which might serve to entice Russian interest in
allowing Brazil to serve as an equipment hub.

7. (S) Border security and sovereignty concerns also continue
to be a driving factor for Brazil's desire to re-build its
military, develop a domestic manufacturing capacity for
military equipment, and beef up its air defenses, in
particular. Brazilians continue to perceive their long
border with ten neighboring countries as vulnerable,
justifying maintenance of a strong defense posture. The most
likely scenarios with direct military implications for Brazil
involve non-state actors such as the FARC and international
criminal organizations operating across borders.
Nonetheless, although it seems highly unlikely that the GOB's
first reaction would be to send in the troops, Brazilians see
a military incursion by Chavez into a neighboring country as

BRASILIA 00000159 003 OF 003


plausible, in light of Chavez's unpredictability, and see
having a strong military as a deterrent. Moreover, they
continue to hold suspicions regarding the intentions of the
international community--including the United States (ref
J)--with regard to the Amazon. Brazil sees a strong military
as an important element in backing up these assertions of
sovereignty over the Amazon.

8. (S) Beyond concerns about Chavez and regional and border
security more generally, Jobim's priorities suggest that
Brazilian interests are also motivated by Brazil's growing
desire to take its "rightful" place among the world's powers
and to be seen as a worthy of a permanent UN Security Council
seat. It is this objective, which senior GOB policy makers
place above all other foreign policy goals, that is driving
Brazil's interest in a nuclear submarine (ref K).

What does it mean for us?
-------------------------

9. (S) Brazilian leaders believe that now is their time to
play a more important global role. This, combined with
Brazil's continuing concerns regarding regional stability,
the threat posed by Venezuela, and border security, will form
the backdrop to the discussions and to Brazilian positions.
While we may not agree with Brazilian views of Brazil,s
security situation, they will nonetheless form a framework
within which we must approach our discussions with Minister
Jobim and other GOB officials. While we should seek to focus
on more realistic areas for bilateral defense cooperation,
such as peacekeeping, we cannot afford to dismiss these core
Brazilian concerns, which will be important considerations as
we seek to exploit the opportunities presented by Jobim's
visit to Washington in March and Pol-Mil talks in April.

SOBEL
SOBEL

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