President Trump’s losing strategy: Embracing Brazil and confronting China


US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a meeting with Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia, Brazil, on January 2, 2019.
PHOTO/Marcos Correa/Reuters/Business Insider

The US embraces a regime doomed to failure and threatens the world’s most dynamic economy. President Trump has lauded Brazil’s newly elected President Jair Bolsonaro and promises to promote close economic, political, social and cultural ties. In contrast the Trump regime is committed to dismantling China’s growth model, imposing harsh and pervasive sanctions, and promoting the division and fragmentation of greater China.
Washington’s choice of allies and enemies is based on a narrow conception of short-term advantage and strategic losses.
In this paper we will discuss the reasons why the US-Brazilian relation fits in with Washington’s pursuit for global domination and why Washington fears the dynamic growth and challenge of an independent and competitive China.

Brazil in Search of a Patron
Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro from day one, has announced a program to reverse nearly a century of state directed economic growth. He has announced the privatization of the entire public sector, including the strategic finance, banking, minerals, infrastructure, transport, energy and manufacturing activities. Moreover, the sellout has prioritized the centrality of foreign multi-national corporations.  Previous authoritarian civilian and military regimes protected nationalized firms as part of tripartite alliances which included foreign, state and domestic private enterprises.
In contrast to previous elected civilian regimes which strove – not always successfully – to increase pensions, wages and living standards and recognized labor legislation, President Bolsonaro has promised to fire thousands of public sector employees, reduce pensions and increase retirement age while lowering salaries and wages in order to increase profits and lower costs to capitalists.
President Bolsonaro promises to reverse land reform, expel, arrest and assault peasant households in order to re-instate landlords and encourage foreign investors in their place. The deforestation of the Amazon and its handover to cattle barons and land speculators will include the seizure of millions of acres of indigenous land.
In foreign policy, the new Brazilian regime pledges to follow US policy on every strategic issue: Brazil supports Trump’s economic attacks on China, embraces Israel’s land grabs in the Middle East, (including moving its capital to Jerusalem), back US plots to boycott and policies to overthrow the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. For the first time, Brazil has offered the Pentagon military bases, and military forces in any and all forthcoming invasions or wars.
The US celebration of President Bolsonaro’s gratuitous handovers of resources and wealth and surrender of sovereignty is celebrated in the pages of the Financial Times, the Washington Post and the New York Times who predict a period of growth, investment and recovery – if the regime has the ‘courage’ to impose its sellout.
As has occurred in numerous recent experiences with right wing neo-liberal regime changes in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador,  financial page journalists and experts have allowed their ideological dogma to blind them to the eventual pitfalls and crises.
The Bolsonaro regime’s economic policies ignore the fact that they depend on agro-mineral exports to China and compete with US exports. Brazilian  ago-business elites will resent the switch of trading partners.They will oppose, defeat and undermine Bolsonaro’s anti-China campaign if he dares to persists.
Foreign investors will takeover public enterprises but are not likely to expand production given the sharp reduction of employment, salaries and wages, as the consumer market declines.
Banks may make loans but demand high interest rates for high ‘risks’ especially as the government will face increased social opposition from trade unions and social movements, and greater violence from the militarization of society.
Bolsonaro lacks a majority in Congress who depend on the electoral support of millions of public employees, wage and salaried workers, pensioners, and gender and racial minorities. Congressional alliance will be difficult without corruption and compromises. Bolsonaro’s cabinet includes several key ministers who are under investigation for fraud and money laundering. His anti-corruption rhetoric will evaporate in the face of judicial investigations and exposés.
Brazil is unlikely to provide any meaningful military forces for regional or international US military adventures. The military agreements with the US will carry little weight in the face of deep domestic turmoil.
Bolsanaro’s neo-liberal policies will deepen inequalities especially among the fifty million who have recently risen out of poverty. The US embrace of Brazil will enrich Wall Street who will take the money and run, leaving the US facing the ire and rejection of their failed ally.
The US Confronts China     
Unlike Brazil, China is not prepared to submit to economic plunder and to surrender its sovereignty. China is following its own long-term strategy which focuses on developing the most advanced sectors of the economy – including cutting edge electronics and communication technology.
Chinese researchers already produce more patents and referred scientific articles than the US. They graduate more engineers, advanced researchers and innovative scientists than the US based on high levels of state funding. China with an investment rate of over 44% in 2017, far surpasses the US. China has advanced, from low to high value added exports including electrical cars at competitive prices. For example, Chinese cell phones are out competing Apple in both price and quality.
China has opened its economy to US multi-national corporations in exchange for access to advanced technology, what Washington dubs as ‘forced’ seizures.

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