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If Brazil Wants to Scare the World, It's Succeeding

 
 
dlowan
 
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2004 03:03 pm
This NYT article is interesting in itself - but also interesting in terms of "little country syndrome" - (not that Brazil is little - I come from a REAL little country - only 20 million!).

What Brazil apparently calls the "mongrel syndrome" we Ozzians grew up calling "cultural cringe" - and feeling ignored and belittled and cutified in a world of big hitters is tough - if you let it get to you.

At least from the slant given by this article, it seems Brazil might be looking for a nuclear solution to all of this...

(As far as I know, Oz has never considered getting a big bomb to make the rest of you sit up and take notice - but you guys watch out for we little folk - we're coming!)
By LARRY ROHTER

Published: October 31, 2004


RIO de JANEIRO ? Throughout the world, Brazil has long had an image as a land of soccer and samba, inhabited by a friendly, easy-going people. So why is it locked in a dispute with the International Atomic Energy Agency, accused by American and other nuclear experts of being a nuclear scofflaw whose actions aid rogue states like North Korea and Iran?

Ever since it began observing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1997, Brazil has resisted allowing international inspectors full access to a secretive uranium enrichment plant 100 miles from here. This month, Science magazine sharpened the controversy with an article saying the installation will give Brazil the "breakout capability" to produce enough fissionable material for six nuclear warheads a year, a claim Brazil's government dismissed as fantasy.

Though the military dictatorship that ruled until 1985 had a clandestine nuclear arms program, no one is saying Brazil is trying to build an atomic bomb now. Rather, the concern is that it could export uranium enriched here, or technology, and that such exports could end up in the hands of rogue states or terrorists. International experts worry about Brazil's export controls, and its history. In the 1980's, it secretly sent Iraq uranium and technical assistance.

To outsiders, Brazil's resistance to inspections doesn't make sense. The world is awash in processed uranium, the nuclear program here has consumed more than $1 billion that could have cut widespread poverty, and Brazil's secrecy has only raised suspicions about its trustworthiness and ultimate intentions, the argument goes.

"I don't see how this should be one of their major preoccupations," said James Goodby, who was the Clinton administration's chief negotiator on nuclear proliferation issues. "Don't they at least worry what the rest of Latin America, especially the Argentines, think of this?"

Among Brazilians, however, the government's assertiveness, like the nuclear program itself, has proved quite popular. Though an American ambassador here once described Brazil as "a country that punches under its weight," the nuclearissue seems to have awakened latent pugnacity, and insecurities.

Writing in the 1950's, the playwright Nelson Rodrigues saw his countrymen as afflicted with a sense of inferiority, and he coined a phrase that Brazilians now use to describe it: "the mongrel complex." Brazil has always aspired to be taken seriously as a world power by the heavyweights, and so it pains Brazilians that world leaders could confuse their country with Bolivia, as Ronald Reagan once did, or dismiss a nation so large - it has 180 million people - as "not a serious country," as Charles de Gaulle did.......


Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/31/weekinreview/31roht.html?ex=1256965200&en=37262794038df2bd&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt
Worth reading sociologically alone...
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 Oct, 2004 03:59 pm
I put a letter from a friend that just came back from Brazil into this Topic -
http://able2know.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=36989


and in that letter my friend mentioned -
Brasil is now negotiating to sell airplanes to Russia, of all people, and they have a centrifugal system for enriching uranium (they have a lot of it) that is 30% more efficient than ours. That's why they're resisting our demands for full inspection. They're determined not to let us steal their method--it uses suspension of the centrifuges in a magnetic field. A lot less friction than our method, on an axle, and can run faster. The whole controversy was clearly explained in the paper down there.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2004 04:10 am
Yes Osso - that is in the article.

Er - isn't Russia the new great friend of the US?
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2004 01:15 pm
That´s and old story here in Latin America.

At least since the populist dictatorship (1934-1945) and Constitutional government (1950-1954) of Getulio Vargas, Brazil has always wanted to go by it's own path. Nationalism is very strong, not only ideologically, but also economically: a long story of protectionism and benefits for the local businesses. Not even the military dictatorship in the 60s and 70s was Pro-American.
Getulio Vargas on Wikipedia
At the same time, Brazil has historically wanted to control most of the South American markets, has invested heavily in Africa and makes business with anyone.
The messing around with nuclear material is anything but new.
Marxist theoreticians used to call Brazil's politics "subimperialism": the intent of a less developed country to create a "minor" circle of dominance in it's entourage.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Nov, 2004 02:08 pm
Interesting, Fbaezer.

Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em
Little fleas have littler fleas, and so ad infinitum.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Nov, 2004 08:44 pm
Brazil has also a unique record for survival despite sustained rates of inflation above 15% a year - several decades of it. At one point there were even structures for the adjustment of principals on debts. 'Valorization' was their term for it. Brazil has dropped at least six zeroes off its currency since 1960 and changed the name of the currency unit at least four times during that period.

Despite this and several other factors, Brazil is an exciting, always interesting place. Brazilians are generally cheerful, optimistic, and, except in Rio, hard working. Georgeous women.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Nov, 2004 09:08 pm
fbaezer's comments are spot on. Very insightful.

George, I'm not sure by the sound of your comments if you are aware of this but the period of hyperinflation ended about a decade ago. In the last decade it has been between 2.5% and about 6% a year.

It was, indeed very interesting, the inflation was actually far worse than you cite (it was as high as 5,000% a year). I witnessed some of it during my first stay in Brazil, prices would sometimes change from morning to afternoon.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Sat 6 Nov, 2004 10:04 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:

George, I'm not sure by the sound of your comments if you are aware of this but the period of hyperinflation ended about a decade ago. In the last decade it has been between 2.5% and about 6% a year.

It was, indeed very interesting, the inflation was actually far worse than you cite (it was as high as 5,000% a year). I witnessed some of it during my first stay in Brazil, prices would sometimes change from morning to afternoon.


Yes I am well aware of the end of it. The high inflation started decades ago, before Getulio Vargas and long before WWII. While there were episodes of extreme inflation as you say, the truly remarkable part was the SUSTAINED AVERAGE rate above 15% for decade-long periods. No other country I am aware of has sustained such a thing without complete economic and political collapse. (Do the math - the numbers are extraordinary.) (Contos, Reals, Cruaeiros, Cruzados, and again Reals)
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Nov, 2004 12:48 am
I guess it's less remarkable to me because of my familiarity with it.

Brazil's economic history is about the most interesting one I know of.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Nov, 2004 02:14 am
More?????
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 9 Nov, 2004 09:41 pm
Some more comments from my friend, the traveler to Brazil - in response to my giving him a link to this thread (maybe one day I can nag him to post):

quote -

(Osso):
I basically like his comments....and the others too.
And I'm glad you used mine.
The other guy's right about inflation. It was wild in the early 80's..people would spend their paychecks in the morning, but it would be worth lots less by afternoon. It began to stabilize in late 80's has been very stable last few years...in fact, I can keep my Brazil money from year to year nowadays, instead of throwing it away. They have ATM machines thruout, credit card operations everywhere, stores that make Home Depot look primitive, vast new living compounds (more about this later) with complete security. Two of my friends have moved into these areas in the last year.
The problem of drug trafficking and crime in the favelas must be solved. This is Brazil's #1 problem today..that and illiteracy in the poorer areas.

Some of the comments about Brazil "chip-on-shoulder" attitude ring true. They're not a banana republic, a nation of 180 million, and don't like being patronized. They have an open society..love playing with English words, have no "french-like" resistance (oh yes, there is a purist group, but they're not taken seriously). They grab on English words, "Portuguesify" them and blend them with their own. The result is a charming mix. They do the same with French, but English is their favorite.

They basically like Americans, but, beneath the surface, there's a fear I've encountered from time to time..that U.S. covets the Amazon for its oil and other riches and is looking for an excuse to get "involved" there.

Other than that, we don't intimidate them... they're big boys.

They're very proud of their accomplishments in medicine....Ranking up with the top three in the world in plastic surgery, orthodontics, liver/kidney transplants, optics, and other areas as well. They don't worry about having a bomb, but worry about what the US might do by accident with ours. They can't figure out (and I hear this everywhere) why the US always has to have an enemy...and why we feel we can walk out on agreements but no-one else can. That 'enrichment' flap was extensively covered down there, and I found it very logical. We want to see their "process". As in Iraq, we have a reputation for putting CIA spies amids our "inspectors" and they're damned if they're going to let us steal their very marketable process. Simple as that...and, of course, the US stirs up a lot of smoke about our real reasons for worrying about Brazil. They also like to point out that the US is blind to Irael's nuclear prowess, quiet about India and Pakistan and pretty sloppy on our own.
France, they say, has a much better record for using, protecting nuclear materials.

While I was there, Brazil sent a team to Moscow. Came back with plans to sell aircraft to Russia. They now have a contract to furnish a good chunk of Canada's aircraft. Yes, it was the military (Castelo Branco, the first..and only honest/competent..military dictator) that started the aircraft industry, and the nuclear research. Branco told them "if we are to compete, we must learn from the Japanese and stress quality over all." Nephew, (name), tells me that Embraer is absolutely the toughest customer they've ever had, the most insistent on testing and quality control. I've read several times this latest trip how Brazil, along with other nations, is forming "trade alliances" simply to establish markets that don't depend on the US. They see us as unpredictable, undependable, and just a bit dangerous. No doubt, respect for the US has declined sharply...I couldn't hear a good word for Bush anywhere, but always they were quick to say something nice about Clinton.

Another area Brasil's been stressing (for 20 years now) is computerization. They protect their industry..one reason the Brasileiros visiting me go back with all those computer parts/ they're twice as expensive there.
But, they were able to computerize their tax system in the 80's, and the election system was simply "another step" and is taken for granted, with its disk/paper backup, photo presentation and all. What baffles them is how the US can be so clumsy.

Did you tell them about that credit card operation there?
Yesterday, I stopped by Magellans, for some ear plugs. Quiet day, so we talked...about Brazil. They were astonished when I told them about the credit purchase confirmation system, thought about it and commented (as just about everybody does) "why not here, it makes so much sense."
Maybe it's the volume here, but the credit card companies are always telling us about the "dangers of identity theft and they have various plans (all of which cost you money) to "protect you"". Friend just yesterday showed me something from his bank (WellsFargo) a "credit history" protection plan.. only for about $8/month. I told him he can get his history free (just as I did) and clean up any errors on it, and also can restrict access. also free. He tore up the letter from his bank.

end quote
0 Replies
 
lolypop2005
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2005 07:47 am
you people don't know what you are saying. Have any of u lived in brazil for long as i did? or even born there? I bet no, but u keep saying bad things about that country without proof. Brazil may have its ups and downs with violence and poorevity, but brazil would not do that. if it would don't u think they would have done already? I'm brazilian, by the way.

take care Smile
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Jul, 2005 07:49 am
Who said anything bad about Brazil?

And welcome to A2k.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:00 pm
lolypop2005 wrote:
you people don't know what you are saying. Have any of u lived in brazil for long as i did? or even born there?


É dificil de responder está pergunda ja que vocé não indica o tempo quo vocé viveu em Brasil. Mas morei trez vezes em Brasil e conta Brasil entre os países que constituta a minha patria.

Quote:
I bet no, but u keep saying bad things about that country without proof.


Como? Eu pessoalmente acho nada errado de construir armas nucleares. Eu quero que Brasil perseguir este caminho.

O que é "mal" para um não é para outro.

Quote:
Brazil may have its ups and downs with violence and poorevity, but brazil would not do that.


Por que?

Quote:
if it would don't u think they would have done already?


Isto depende se o fator que lhe-limita é vontage ou não. Pode ser que a limitacão é de capacidate (technologica etc).


Quote:

I'm brazilian, by the way.

take care Smile


Prazer. Aonde mora?
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:37 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
Como? Eu pessoalmente acho nada errado de construir armas nucleares. Eu quero que Brasil perseguir este caminho.



Why?
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:46 pm
<listening, or trying to..>
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 04:52 pm
Why not? Nuclear holocaust? That's a societal concern that the individual nation has to sacrifice for. If they look around they'll notice that there's not enough of said sacrifice going around to prevent a nuclear holocaust and this renders any nation's own sacrifice moot for this purpose.

So the only other negative is appeasing the neighbours. To some extent this makes sense, and many countries are better served by the non-proliferation incentives than with a nuke-program.

But for some countries I don't think non-proliferation is a good deal and I think it's stupid for them to let the nuclear elite dictate that they can't have nukes while they keep theirs. The incentives offered to avoid nukes should be taken while it makes sense, but with the knowlege that in the long term it is likely not to be worth the exchange.

For Brazil, I think there's a good chance that it's not worth the exchange (it all depends, of course, on just how worked up others can get about the nukes, which means that the secret to doing it is to do it quickly and to be clear in that it's not up for negotiation).
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 05:06 pm
Why not?

Well, I do tend to think (while the nuclear elite thing pisses me off) that spreading the nukes increases the holocaust risk - more people having the chance to do it increases the chance that someone will be nuts enough to do it, Iwould think.

Would it also not spark a South/Central American arms race?

The more nuclear stuff being produced, the more chance for terrorists to grab a piece of it - as I see it.

Also - my sense is that there are simply more unstable regimes in that region, if it does spark a nuclear arms race.


Those are my off the top of my head reasons.

I cannot see the plusses for Brazil, really. But I happily admit I am coming from a position of almost total ignorance.

Iam interested to know what you see the benefits as being.
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squinney
 
  1  
Reply Tue 2 Aug, 2005 05:23 pm
Who was the guy on the nuclear panel from South America that Bush had removed? Can't think of the agency, but it was like an international group that dealt with nuclear issues.

Any connection?
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Wed 3 Aug, 2005 08:22 pm
dlowan wrote:

Well, I do tend to think (while the nuclear elite thing pisses me off) that spreading the nukes increases the holocaust risk - more people having the chance to do it increases the chance that someone will be nuts enough to do it, Iwould think.


I have mixed feelings here. I think the key to nukes not being used is for them to exist on both sides of conflict. When only one side has them they are more likely to use them. Recently the US has had some strong proponents of "bunker buster" nukes but I doubt they would be as interested if there were a chance that the targets they envision using them on would retaliate with nukes as well.

At the same time, non nation-states complicate this. As far as nations are concerned I am not too worried, but no such balance of power (respect of power might be a better way to say it) exists with suicidal fringe groups.

Still, I don't think they will ever be able to cause a nuclear holocaust, at best they would likely have a rare spectacular attack that kills fewer people than, say, the war in Iraq (which I don't think would have happened if Iraq had nukes).

Quote:
Would it also not spark a South/Central American arms race?


I don't mind arms races except in that they are usually a waste of money.

Quote:
The more nuclear stuff being produced, the more chance for terrorists to grab a piece of it - as I see it.


I agree, but I don't think npt is going to stop them in significant enough ways.

Quote:
Also - my sense is that there are simply more unstable regimes in that region, if it does spark a nuclear arms race.


"Nuclear arms race" is a term that is an inherent negative for most, but not for me.

Quote:

I cannot see the plusses for Brazil, really. But I happily admit I am coming from a position of almost total ignorance.

Iam interested to know what you see the benefits as being.


No real short-term benefits, but Brazil has always wanted to be a global player. They don't have economic weight, nor political weight, nor military weight.

Neither does Russia, but Russia still gets to play big by having nukes.
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