The election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s next president is a major step in the direction of Trump’s plans to build a “Fortress America” that he intends will cement the US’ hegemonic influence in the Western Hemisphere by systematically squeezing China out of Latin America.
Jair Bolsonaro’s election as Brazil’s next president will go down in history as a pivotal moment in hemispheric affairs because it represents the greatest success so far of the US’ “Operation Condor 2.0” secret scheme of replacing the region’s socialist “Pink Tide” governments with right-wing neoliberal ones. The Hybrid War on Brazil deliberately shaped the socio-political environment in South America’s largest country in such a way that this “dark horse” candidate was able to come out of nowhere and capture control of this Great Power with the US’ tacit backing, which will expectedly have far-reaching geostrategic implications. The US is employing all means at its disposal to push back against China’s game-changing Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) in the nascent New Cold War, and there’s little doubt that Bolsonaro will do good on his campaign pledge to counter China’s growing influence in his country, which perfectly dovetails with what his role model Donald Trump is trying to do in the US.
White House Hints
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed that the two spoke with one another shortly after the news broke that Bolsonaro trounced his opponent, noting that “both expressed a strong commitment to work side-by-side to improve the lives of the people of the United States and Brazil, and as regional leaders, of the Americas”, which could hint at a few prominent possibilities of cooperation between the two that will be described shortly. Reuters also reported that Bolsonaro promised to “realign Brazil with more advanced economies rather than regional allies” in the first public comments that he made after his victory was announced, suggesting that he might neglect his country’s membership in BRICS in favor of prioritizing relations with the US and EU instead. Returning to Sanders’ statement, it’s important to point out that she characterized Brazil as a regional leader of the Americas, which correlates with Trump’s vision for hegemonically managing Western Hemispheric affairs through the continuation of the Obama-era policy of “Leading from Behind” through regional proxy partnerships.
Building “Fortress America”
To elaborate, Trump’s predecessor quietly carried out regime changes in several Latin American countries and planted the seeds for what would later occur in Brazil, which was always the US’ ultimate prize because of its sheer size and influence. The current American President envisions the US working together with several regional partners, including Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, to advance the goal of Washington-led hemispheric integration that would embed the US’ restored influence all throughout Latin America while squeezing out its prime Chinese competitor. To accomplish this, Bolsonaro-led Brazil will be encouraged to carry out the following geo-economic policies that will greatly enable the creation of a US-dominated “Fortress America” that Trump intends to build in response to China’s Eastern Hemispheric Silk Road connectivity gains of recent years:
- Merge Mercosur With The Neoliberal Pacific Alliance:
All of the countries in both trading blocs are now run by right-wing leaders so it’s “natural” for them to merge with one another in order to take regional integration to its next step, which is a trend that even Mexico’s leftist president-elect AMLO will more than likely continue in order to expand his country’s influence throughout Central and South America.
- Clinch Free Trade Deals With The EU And The USMC (NAFTA 2.0):
The next step is for a united Mercosur-Pacific Alliance to successfully conclude the first-mentioned group’s stalemated free trade talks with the EU and then do the same when it comes to prospective ones with the USMC, which will altogether lay the structural basis for further integrating the hemisphere and making Latin America part of the so-called “Trans-Atlantic Community”.
- Unfreeze The FTAA And Link It To TTIP:
The last phase of constructing “Fortress America” is for the US to take the lead in unfreezing the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) proposal for a hemisphere-wide free trade zone following the success of South America’s Brazilian-led geo-economic pivot and then link this transcontinental trading structure to the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU.
The whole point of these aforementioned plans is for the US to lock Latin America into neoliberal trading structures that forever preclude its return to socialism, even though this could eventually backfire by inspiring another “Pink Tide” sometime in the future. While there’s an important trans-Atlantic component related to the EU, “Fortress America” could still be built without Europe if the latter remains embroiled in simmering trade disputes with the US. So long as Bolsonaro succeeds in getting the rest of South America to follow his Trumpist lead (possibly through the merging of Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance), then the diminishment of Chinese influence in the continent will be a fait accompli because the People’s Republic will see its many investments challenged by a combination of the host governments themselves and its newly invigorated US competitor.
It’ll be extremely difficult for BRICS to continue to function in anything other than name only if Brazil breaks ranks with the organization’s de-facto Chinese leader and does everything in its power under Bolsonaro to push back against it, including either scrapping the Trans-Oceanic Railroad (which could colloquially be considered to be the “South American Silk Road”) or replacing most of its Chinese investments with Western ones and thereby neutralizing its intended multipolar strategic purpose. When paired with fellow BRICS member South Africa’s tilt towards neoliberalism after the country’s “deep state” coup brought President Ramaphosa to power possibly as a result of an American-backed regime change process just like with Bolsonaro, it’s plain to see that BRICS is for all intents and purposes regressing back to its original RIC framework, which is itself only kept alive in a truly multilateral format through Russia’s “balancing” role between its competing Asian Great Powers that has thus far saved it from just becoming a hodge-podge of overlapping bilateral partnerships.
Bolsonaro’s election, socio-politically engineered by Washington over the past few years, is a watershed event in Latin American history because of the very high likelihood that it’ll further the US’ plans for building “Fortress America”. Given the practically identical worldview that the Brazilian president-elect shares with Trump, especially regarding the need to “contain” China and suppress domestic socialist tendencies at home, it’s all but assured that the former military officer will march in lockstep with his idol in carrying out their joint will in the Western Hemisphere. This could predictably see Brazil taking the lead to advance regional integrational initiatives that would have otherwise been unthinkable under a leftist government such as merging Mercosur with the Pacific Alliance and probing the possibilities for a multilateral free trade deal between this resultant continental-wide structure and the USMC (NAFTA 2.0). None of this augurs well for China’s Silk Road interests, but that’s one of the main reasons why “Fortress America” is being built in the first place.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.