Brazil: The Limits of Solidarity

The Brazilian government is watching what America’s next step will be in the wake of Tuesday’s attacks in the United States, keeping in mind that George W. Bush is already playing (a few months into his mandate) for the future of his presidency. In the Itamaraty’s [Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Relations] unofficial estimation, the American president may as much rise above the first and worst impression he made as sink definitively into the isolationist and unilateral posture that, in the view of Brazilian diplomacy, inflamed anti-American feeling in the world, a sentiment now replaced by solidarity.

If the U.S. reaction is disproportionate and ends up hitting countries or peoples whose only sin is sharing their national or religious identity with the authors of the attack, Brazilian diplomats believe international solidarity will find its limits, within the lines of rationality and the goal of peace.

George W. Bush took office piously believing that the United States is not only the center of the world but the universe’s reason for being. In contradistinction to his predecessor, Bill Clinton, Bush has not thus far demonstrated any tact in the art of managing U.S. dominance and its coexistence with the complexities of diverse national realities.

Hence his difficulty in fulfilling accords, following treaties, establishing partnerships, and taking into account “the other.” But the unprecedented nature and audacity of Tuesday’s terrorist attack brought down the illusion of the inviolability of American territory and exposed the real meaning of the concept of international reciprocity. This is an important factor to be taken into consideration in the decision-making process of the American government.