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«Brazil, the Emerging Powers, and the Future of the International Order 2016 to remember the optimism that Brazilians once IT IS DIFFICULT IN shared ...»

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But these states’ behavior is fundamentally affected by the fact of emergence— a position that provides both increased vulnerabilities and increased opportunities. These powers face a high cost if they overtly challenge the prevailing order, because they have not yet achieved the levels of hard and soft power to rival the status quo major powers and thus are vulnerable to retaliation. 21 Note that even Brazil, which is critical of the rights of great powers to act in ways that violate the rules, does not advocate for the elimination of the permanent seats on the UN Security Council or of weighted voting at the IMF. Brazil’s perspective is that some states count more than others in drawing up the international order, but once the rules are in place, all states, even the leaders of the prevailing order, must follow them. Brazil opposes an unequal distribution of influence, but argues that the inequality can be mitigated if representatives of the currently excluded states are included.

So how does an emerging power actually behave as it accumulates newfound influence? One would not expect it to be a “rule follower” because the rules, which determine the costs and benefits of behavior, were formulated by the leading powers and therefore bias those costs and benefits in their favor. Hence a new player would want to at least tweak the rules to take more account of its specific situation.

Emerging powers thus seek to revise or reform the international order to achieve greater recognition of their economic importance and political significance, as well as an influential role in international organizations that underpin global governance. But only a state that has the potential to develop into a superpower to rival the United States (or to replace it were it to decline) can conceive of replacing the existing international order; we leave it to others to discern when, if ever, the Chinese might decide that those costs are worth the expected benefits. All other Brazil and the Future of the International Order emerging powers today can at most aspire to (merely) major power status. Because being a “follower” or a “revolutionary” is not a rational strategy for emerging powers, their goals are either to reform the governing structures of that order or revise its foundational myths or both.

We expect the choice to reform or revise to be determined by how much an emerging power would benefit from either approach. We argue that Brazil sees both reform and revision as attainable and beneficial for its continued development along the path to major power status.


Joseph Nye argues that the currency of international influence lies in the use of both hard power— the use of military, political, and economic coercion or wealth to purchase allegiance— and of soft power: “the ability to get what you want through attraction rather than coercion or payments.”22 We claim that the combination of hard and soft power approaches that emerging states use to seek influence in global governance varies according to those states’ geostrategic significance for the international order. An emphasis on hard power will be attractive for emerging states that are strategically valuable and relevant to leading powers. India, for example, borders both China, a U.S. rival, and Pakistan, a nucleararmed country that is a major focus of U.S. security concerns about international Islamist terrorism. Turkey’s strategic position also makes its hard power of significance to leading states. Among the reasons that Turkey is valuable to the United States are its geostrategic position bordering Eurasia and the Middle East and its ability to project hard power along its borders into these regions. Turkey’s soft power, either in the form of cultural influence over Turkish peoples in Central Asia or religious influence in the Islamic world, is viewed much more ambivalently by leading powers.

Other emerging powers without such traditional geostrategic assets— such as Brazil and South Africa—will fi nd it necessary to convince the existing great powers that their emergence will have a stabilizing effect on the international order because of their ability to exert soft power.

This approach has the potential to convince leading powers of the value of incorporating emerging states into the existing order because of their ability to lower the costs of order maintenance. Soft power will be the preferred option for emerging countries such as Brazil and South Africa because it will generate less resistance from those at the top than pursuing 14 Brazil and the Future of the International Order hard power. Great powers are reluctant to accept the proliferation of hard power unless it contributes to their needs, and in the absence of their strategic value, these emerging states lack that justification.

Yet neither the hard nor soft power of emerging states is likely to have a meaningful or existential impact on the security of the creators of the international order. The choice of targets of emerging states’ power— which are largely either other emerging states or developing nations— reflects the fact that these emerging states have insufficient resources to aspire to be rivals of the great powers that created the international order. Using both hard and soft power for these states is a means to get “buy-in” from the leading powers for a more influential role in system governance.

However, having sufficient military power to keep great powers respectful and cautious in their behavior toward the goals and aspirations of emerging powers remains important. This perspective is captured in the Brazilian view on nuclear capabilities: they want to gain, as Japan and Germany have, the capability to produce nuclear weapons, although they promise never to develop them in normal circumstances.* Therefore, the most successful combinations of hard and soft power by emerging powers are often determined by great power needs. The use of hard power by emerging states is acceptable if it is oriented toward deterring systemic challengers at a lower price. From a great power perspective, emerging states’ soft power should be focused on the unrepresented states in the Global South that the emerging powers claim to represent, offering great powers a less costly means to restrain minor rule breakers and expand the reach of the international order.

In the last decade, analysts have examined whether it may be possible for states to follow both hard and soft power paths to emergence. India and Brazil seem to represent differing routes to leadership positions in the international order, although both are critical of certain aspects of the prevailing international order. India has accumulated hard power, including developing nuclear weapons and a long-range strike capability. In addition, its accelerating economic development and broad global cultural influence have given India both hard and soft power capabilities, which it has used to increasingly align with the United States while *Brazil’s constitution prohibits the production of nuclear weapons, but the constitution can be amended or even replaced— Brazil has had six constitutions since replacing its empire with a republic in 1889.

Brazil and the Future of the International Order keeping a wary eye on China’s rising capabilities. Brazil, in contrast, is geostrategically secure and has deemphasized hard power and relied predominantly on soft power, seeking to emerge through its diplomatic leadership of the Global South. 23 Analysts, policymakers, and the public are familiar with the hard power route to emergence and rivalry, the path that India appears to be pursuing.

But the soft power route undertaken by Brazil is uncharted territory, and Japan’s failure to become “number one” in the 1980s reinforces skepticism about soft power’s ultimate potential. Jonathan McClory, an expert

on soft power, summarizes the pro– soft power agenda well:

The ability of a state to drive change in international affairs in the 21st century will rest on shaping narratives, setting international norms, mobilizing transnational networks, and winning the battle for global public opinion. This is not to say that soft power alone will always win the day—far from it—but its relative strategic importance will continue to grow.

He also points out that

more research is needed on understanding and measuring soft power from the perspective of individual states, and how it is deployed. This could help researchers move towards outcome attribution in the use of soft power.... [F]uture research is needed to better understand how soft power can be leveraged to meet objectives; how soft power strategies can be evaluated; and how causal links between soft power and policy outcomes might be established. 24 Brazil’s extensive experience with soft power and its repeated failure to emerge to major power status make the country a particularly useful case for this research agenda.

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We use Brazil as a case study to examine the possibility that states can pursue a soft power path to emergence. Brazil has some historical constants that allow us to discuss its national aspirations for international standing without detailed attention to variations in domestic policy or 16 Brazil and the Future of the International Order politics. Yet this does not mean that the country is a black box internally: domestic politics do play a key role in developing Brazil’s hard and soft power, and when these politics lead to internal disarray, they fundamentally undermine Brazil’s international influence.

Whether as an empire or republic, dictatorship or democracy, or left, right, or center, Brazilian governments have shared a key aspiration to seek an influential global role for their country. And they have done so even in the face of a lack of interest or opposition from their own citizens. A recent but emblematic example can be seen in the opening speech by President Dilma Rousseff to the UN General Assembly in 2013; in that speech she staked out Brazil’s leadership claim to the global Internet freedom agenda and blasted the United States for abrogating to itself the right to use the Internet to spy on governments and citizens of countries posing no threat to it. She delivered that speech even after weathering a summer of protest by Brazilians tired of government spending on international vanity projects such as the 2014 World Football Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. 25 Another reason to use Brazil as a case study is that it has aspired to great power status for more than a century, permitting us to observe Brazil’s efforts to use hard and soft power to emerge, as well as the reactions of status quo powers to its efforts and designs. Brazil has always supported the liberal status quo during its ascendant periods and been on the winning side in the major confrontations against revolutionary powers that sought to overthrow that global order (in both World Wars I and II and in the Cold War). Brazil believes that it should be accepted in the leadership councils because of its geographic and economic size and because of its peaceful and responsible (from its point of view) international behavior, as evidenced by its consistent support for the liberal international order in moments of great international crisis. Moreover, Brazil has not instigated any major international crisis, preferring to pursue diplomatic avenues for the resolution of confl ict. 26 Even when external constraints placed on Brazil have hindered its international goals, the country has not fought to undermine the international system. In 1926, for example, the League of Nations granted Germany, the defeated country in World War I, a permanent seat at its council, but not Brazil, a state on the winning side. Brazil withdrew from the organization in protest, but did not seek to demonstrate its power through pursuit of an aggressive foreign policy. Similarly, in the creation of the United Nations, Brazil, whose troops participated in the Allied Brazil and the Future of the International Order victory in Italy, aspired to a permanent seat on the Security Council, but the Soviet Union and Great Britain vetoed that arrangement. Brazil, however, accepted recognition of its status as an important but not major international player, instead establishing the tradition of being the fi rst country to speak at the annual General Debates of the UN General Assembly.27 Brazil is also tied with Japan for the most times a country has been elected to the UN Security Council as a nonpermanent member: both have been elected ten times.

However, this approach has meant that Brazil generally has not held much strategic importance for the incumbent great powers in recent decades, reinforcing the role of soft power in Brazil’s attempts to influence global order. Brazil perceives these efforts as reflections of its commitment to a politically democratic and basically capitalist world. Its vision of capitalism, however, falls more along the lines of European social democracy than the U.S. advocacy of liberal market economics. In fact Brazil seeks not only the welfare state of the Europeans but also more “guidance” by the state over the economy than even West Europeans are willing to accept these days.

Brazil is an important case for the analysis of soft power. According to the Soft Power Index developed by the Institute for Government and Monocle Magazine, in 2012 Brazil ranked seventeenth in potential influence. This position put Brazil at the top of developing countries, with Turkey at twenty, South Africa at thirty-four, India at number thirty-six, and China at twenty-two. The authors of the study cautioned, “Many states routinely undermine their own soft power with poorly-conceived policies, short-sighted spending decisions, domestic actions, or clumsy messaging.”28 Brazil has been vulnerable to domestic turmoil, as occurred in the 1980s when the military regime was unable to confront inflation and once again today. The country is therefore a poster child for learning about soft power: one needs both the appropriate international context for it to be relevant and domestic successes in order to wield it.

This history does not mean that Brazil sees no place for hard power.

Although Brazil has no major territorial disputes with its neighbors,* Brazilian governments have been concerned with preventing anyone *A small demarcation issue exists with Uruguay, but this does not threaten to become a major complication.

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