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Post Brazil Report: Jair Bolsonaro, President-Elect
Created by John Eipper on 10/29/18 3:14 AM

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Brazil Report: Jair Bolsonaro, President-Elect (Istvan Simon, USA, 10/29/18 3:14 am)

Yesterday, October 28th, Jair Bolsonaro defeated by ample margin Fernando Haddad in the runoff for the presidency of Brazil.

Haddad was the candidate of the PT, the Worker's Party, after their favorite candidate Lula sitting in jail for corruption was disqualified from running in accordance with legislation (which did not stop Lula from trying to run anyway from jail). As I write these lines, Brazilians in usual noisy fashion are celebrating the defeat of the PT on the streets, or perhaps the victory of Bolsonaro, or both.

The good news is that Haddad lost in the entire country, even in the North and Northeast, where the PT had its greatest strength. This seems to indicate a certain positive evolution of the population and the toll that the corruption of the PT finally may have taken politically. The bad news is that no one really knows what Bolsonaro will do.

The election was bitterly fought based much more on negative campaigning, attacks and fear-mongering on each side than on positive programs of what the candidates would do. The country has been polarized much like the United States under Trump's campaign and presidency.

Contrary to Trump, Bolsonaro declared that he will be a president for all Brazilians, even those who did not vote for him, but only the future will tell whether this is really what he will do. Trump certainly did not.

I also want to briefly acknowledge and thank the very excellent posts of Michael Sullivan and Tim Brown on the strategic interests of the United States in the Middle East, initiated by A. J Cave and continued by myself. I agree completely with both posts.

Michael is being too modest in his self-assessment. There is no need for security clearances to comment on this broad subject, and his training and experience as a US Marine General, are I think invaluable to reflect on this most important subject.

Indeed, keeping the straits of Hormuz open for navigation is obviously a strategic interest of the United States. As for Israel, once again Michael's comments are right on the dot, and his points on "settling scores" with Iran were identical to my stated position.

I had argued in my post that the three interests A.J. Cave had mentioned were tactical, not strategic. But a thought that occurred to me only more recently, is that individually each of these interests may be tactical rather than strategic, but as a combination, the more of these tactical interests we consider, the more it becomes strategic. In other words even a complete loss on a single of these tactical interests would not be a serious threat to our long-term survival, but the picture would change at some point to strategic the more we combine several of these individual tactical interests. In combination they could become strategic.

The various additional interests that Tim Brown added make this last point even more salient.

These points make me think of the damaging policies of the Trump administration withdrawing and undermining long-term alliances, which are deeply damaging to our strategic interests. We do depend vitally on these alliances. We simply cannot survive in the world without alliances with others, so by my definition this is a fundamental strategic interest. We cannot survive on our own in the modern world.

I am particularly grateful to Tim for mentioning global warming as a strategic interest. I wholeheartedly agree. climate change is currently the gravest threat to our national security. It is a major tragedy and blunder that the current US administration is so stupidly denying the science and the facts in this matter.

JE comments:  Bolsonaro is described as the Brazilian Trump, with his tough talk, willingness to offend, and promises to Make Brazil Great (Again?).  His victory can probably best be understood as the public's disgust with corruption under the long-ruling PT.  Cynics will say that now it's the Right's turn at the feed-trough.

I understood from Istvan's comment that he is currently in São Paulo.  This is a historic time to be in Brazil, Istvan.  Please keep us updated on the local mood.

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