Cablegate: Thoughts On the Visit of Defense Minister Jobim to Washington
DE RUEHBR #0429/01 0911843
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 311843Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
TO RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1318
INFO RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4490
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5382
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 4012
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 2425
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0211
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 7846
RUEHRI/AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO 5955
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 1804
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BRASILIA 000429
DEPARTMENT FOR WHA AND PM E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/26/2018 TAGS: PREL BR MARR OVIP
SUBJECT: THOUGHTS ON THE VISIT OF DEFENSE MINISTER JOBIM TO WASHINGTON
REF: A. A) BRASILIA 236 B. B) OSD REPORT DTG 251847Z MAR 08 C. C) BRASILIA 175
Classified By: Ambassador Clifford Sobel.
Reason: 1.5 d
1. (C) SUMMARY: Defense Minister Jobim's March 18-21 visit to Washington focused on Brazil's efforts to modernize its defense institutions and on possible avenues for bilateral cooperation and identified several areas for further work, particularly completion of a General Security of Information Agreement (GSOIA) and a possible Defense Technology Security Dialogue. Jobim also used the visit to make the point that Brazil seeks defense modernization that will benefit its domestic industries, while keeping open the possibility of purchasing U.S. fighter aircraft. Brazilian coverage of the visit, however, has largely ignored the real possibilities for cooperation and focused on Jobim's advocacy of a South American Defense Council (SADC). In meetings with Secretaries Rice and Gates and National Security Advisor SIPDIS Hadley, Jobim remained cautious on enhancing bilateral defense cooperation, reflecting the more negative approach of the Ministry for External Relations (MRE) which had sought to curtail Jobim's trip and to inhibit the U.S.-Brazil dialogue on defense issues. While there are good prospects to improve our defense relationship with Brazil, MRE obstruction will continue to be a problem. Our best avenues for progress will be through completing the GSOIA (to which the MRE does not object), to look for opportunities to underline that Brazil will have the same access to U.S. military technology as other friendly nations and to try to get high level support within the Brazilian government for the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), which would allow the Defense Ministry to pursue cooperation with the U.S. military without the current MRE veto. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) As reported in ref b, Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim's visit to Washington focused on Brazil's efforts to modernize its defense institutions and on possibilities for bilateral cooperation. Coming out of Jobim's meetings, Mission has identified several priorities for the bilateral defense relationship, including the DCA, GSOIA, the Defense Techology Security Dialogue, a possible visit by Air Force Science Officers and closer engagement on Joint matters. Jobim did not, however, express optimism about the DCA, even though the MOD has cleared on the current draft of the text. The current DCA draft is with the MRE, which seems in no hurry to act on it. Separately, MRE political military advisor Marcos Pinta Gama expressed the view that the DCA would require high level intervention and should be a deliverable for a future Ministerial level meeting. On defense modernization, Jobim's message was clear: Brazil's priority will be to benefit its domestic defense industries. Purchases from U.S. suppliers will be most competitive when they enable Brazilian production of future military systems. Jobim understands the need for improving Brazil's military capabilities, but will seek to do so in the context of independent domestic production.
3. (C) The Air Force presentation on the F35 impressed the Brazilian delegation, both with the aircraft's capabilities and the cooperative approach being used for its production. Jobim did, however, express reservations about the plane's cost and the degree to which Brazilian industries would benefit. This will be the determining factor for Brazil. If there would be a possibility for integration of Brazilian made hardware or weapons, the F35 would be a leading candidate for Brazil's next generation fighter. Pinta Gama underlined that Brazil will not be making a decision immediately, but in the context of requirements derived from the Defense Modernization Plan, to be completed in September. At the same time, he expressed a lack of confidence in Minister for Planning Unger's leadership of defense planning, indicating that Jobim would do better.
4. (C) Brazilian coverage of the visit has focused on Jobim's advocacy for the proposed SADC based on the assumption that the U.S. would oppose such an organization. BRASILIA 00000429 002 OF 002 Folha of Sao Paulo commented that the SADC did not make sense as its purpose seemed to be to exclude the U.S. Working level Brazilian staffers accompanying Jobim expressed surprise that the U.S. reaction to the SADC proposal was positive because of a divergence of views on what the SADC could do. While the U.S. views a SADC as a means to improve South American military cooperation and facilitate peacekeeping, on the model of the African Union, the Brazilians see its value more in terms of reinforcing Brazilian leadership, moderating Venezuela President Chavez and facilitating common military production (primarily in Brazil).
5. (C) While the Jobim visit served to clarify the prospects for future U.S.-Brazil military cooperation, Jobim remained reserved on the subject. While he told SecDef Gates that he wanted to strength the defense relationship, he also stuck to rather shopworn talking points on why the U.S. made this difficult. He dusted off the complaint that U.S. refusal to allow U.S. origin components in the Super Tucano aircraft to be sold to Venezuela led to Chavez purchase of much higher tech Russian fighters. In his public remarks at CSIS, Jobim avoided the subject of defense cooperation and stuck to recent history and the SADC proposal. It is likely that on his own Jobim would have been more forward leaning on defense cooperation but was somewhat constrained by the MRE (which sent a "handler" along for the trip). As Jobim told Ambassador Sobel in February (ref a), he had pushed the Brazil-France SOFA through over MRE objections. As a result, the MRE is now keeping a closer watch on Jobim as seen by the Brazilian Embassy's foot dragging over scheduling Jobim's visit. While Jobim was telling Ambassador Sobel that he wanted a full schedule, including the visit to Norfolk and meetings with representatives of U.S. defense industries, the Brazilian Embassy in Washington was telling us that the visit would be curtailed. Jobim's chief of staff, Murilo Barboza told embassy officers that the Brazilian Embassy had made several attempts to change the Minister's schedule in favor of a shorter, less substantive visit.
6. (C) EMBASSY COMMENT: Given the resistance from the MRE to the development of the bilateral defense relationship, the most effective way forward will be to pick the low hanging fruit, i.e. to push forward with areas of cooperation which the MRE will support. Specifically, a GSOIA and the beginning of a Defense Technology Security Dialogue should be first steps. The Brazilians are interested in the Security Dialogue as a means to improve their effectiveness in gaining access to U.S. technology through better compliance with U.S. export control regulations. While pursuing these items, we should also continue to urge completion of the DCA, looking for high-level opportunities to make the case. The main advantage of the DCA will be to allow the MOD and DoD to work together on supplementary protocols that could enhance the already good cooperation at the forces level without having to rely on case by case approvals from the MRE. END COMMENT. SOBEL